Published: 14/07/2005, Volume II5, No. 115 Page 42

My family will not discuss it. They think I am stupid to worry. But I do. I really do think that Jack may have Alzheimer's.

No-one is using the A-word; he just gets memory loss. Some days are better than others. Sometimes It is funny, sometimes sad - you know the sort of thing. His CT scan showed nothing to fear for a man of 86, but his business empire is getting pretty stressful. What will happen to him and those that depend on him?

It must be like this in lots of households; the waning of a once clear intellect, and family and friends living day to day.

My family do not care about Jack. They just think the whole thing is trivial. But for me It is anxiety, furrowed brow and worry.

My disquiet reaches crisis point when I hear Jack's voice - every Sunday from 10am. And that is when I know It is not just me that worries. His wife, Peggy, all of The Archers and (at the last count) about 5 million others pause to reflect on the troubles of a man at the centre of Ambridge life.

My own family's indifference is staggering. They torment me about the silly plot lines and the endless tea drinking. And I am forced to show a lack of concern for Jack. But I strike the final blow. When I make the tea, I sing a merry tune. As I put the kettle on I fill the house: dum-di-dum-di-dum-di-dum, dum-di-dum-di-dah-dah... Steve Collins is deputy chief executive of Surrey and Sussex Hospitals trust.