A NEW smartphone app which helps users test their memory and identify early signs of dementia has been launched by Auf Wiedersehen, Pet star Kevin Whately.

The TV star, whose mother Mary died of dementia, is fronting a research campaign supported by Alzheimer’s Society.

Kevin (67) also famous for starring in Inspector Morse and Lewis, is urging people to download GameChanger, a new brain games app.

Researchers say data recorded on the app will enable them to understand more about how people usually perform – which will later help them to identify the warning signs of Alzheimer’s.

Kevin, from Humshaugh, became an Alzheimer’s Society ambassador following his mum’s diagnosis.

“She was a very bright woman,” he said.

She did all the right things, such as walking a lot and completing crosswords. She even used to take part in archaeological digs.

“But in her 70s, she became more forgetful.

“She would forget where her car keys were or where her car was parked, and it really destroyed her confidence.”

Alzheimer’s Society has worked with scientists at the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute on GameChanger, which features a series of games designed to test specific aspects of memory and thinking that are affected in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

And as World Alzheimer’s Month draws to a close, the charity is calling on the public to download the app and play the games for five minutes a day, every day for a month.

Kevin officially opened the Dementia Care specialist day centre at Haugh Lane, Hexham, in 2016.

He added: “GameChanger is going to be a very important innovation because the more people play, the quicker we can detect what causes this awful disease.

“It’s fun, it’s easy, and it will really drive forward dementia research.”

There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, an estimated 35,000 of them in the North-East.

Dr Chris Hinds, from the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute, said: “People using the app are just playing games, but their phones are doing much more – collecting data that we can use to learn about the brain, to help us understand what is a natural part of ageing and what’s a warning sign.”