National Dementia Care Awards

It was the 12th UK National Dementia Care Awards in late September, and Research Associate Thomas Morton was there to represent the Association for Dementia Studies (ADS). Over to Thomas to tell us about the day:

I headed down to Winchester with a car full of banners, booklets and leaflets on September 29th, ready to set up at the National Dementia Care Awards. The awards, established in 2009 by The Journal of Dementia Care, seek to acknowledge care providers and individuals who have made a significant difference to the quality of life of people living with dementia. ADS Director Dr Shirley Evans was one of the judges this year. My role, however, was to man a stall to talk about the work of ADS, and specifically Meeting Centres, as there is growing interest in the Dutch model of dementia support in the region.

The Dementia Care Awards logo, next to a photo of the front of Winchester Cathedral
Winchester Cathedral, which hosted the National Dementia Care Awards 2022

This year the event was held semi-outdoors, in a marquee in the impressive and quite beautiful grounds of Winchester Cathedral, made all-the-more glowing by the unseasonable sunshine – a stroke of luck after a couple of distinctly cold and cloudy days beforehand. I was sharing a table with Dementia Friendly Hampshire and Dementia Friendly Alton, groups involved in hosting the event. We have worked closely with them in setting up Meeting Centres in the region, and it was great to catch up with them.

The event started with bagpipes played by Liv McLennan of Sounds Better CIC and after a glass of bubbly and lots of chat and mingling there was an impromptu singalong before everyone took their seats for the gala dinner. The award trophies themselves were in the style of stained glass sun-catchers, made to order by John Jacques, who himself lives with Alzheimer’s. Amazingly, he only took up the hobby of working with stained glass at the end of 2021 – less than a year before the awards.

Dawn Astle, daughter of legendary footballer Jeff Astle, was key-note speaker. Jeff was 59 when he died in 2002, and was among the first examples of dementia being explicitly linked to the repeated heading of the ball in the game that he loved. Dawn gave a moving speech calling for more to be done to tackle the issue of increased risks in contact sports, and support for those affected.       

There was a familiar face among the nominees, as former ADS Senior Lecturer and researcher Dr Izzie Latham was there with the Hallmark Care Homes Dementia and Wellbeing Team, for whom she is now an in-house researcher. The Hallmark team was nominated in the category of Best Dementia Team.

A photo showing Ronald Amanze and Jane Ward standing either side of the Dementia Friendly Hampshire banner
Ronald Amanze with Jane Ward of Dementia Friendly Hampshire

But for me the most moving moment of the day was when the winners were announced for Exceptional Contribution by Person Living with Dementia. This award was given to two of the nominees jointly: Ronald Amanze and Chris Maddox. Throughout the awards, winners had generally not done acceptance speeches, but Ronald asked specifically if he could say a few words. He used them to give heartfelt thanks to Chris Maddox for helping him to regain his confidence and do what he had done, becoming an active voice speaking up on behalf of people living with dementia – a speech which found Chris not able to hold back her tears in response.

After another round of singing that turned the whole crowd into one big choir, the event drew to a triumphant close, and it was back up the motorway to Worcester for me! For the full list of awards, nominees and winners, visit the Journal of Dementia Care website.

Connect with ADS on twitter @DementiaStudies and on Facebook @adsuow

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