Daily Sparkle at National Dementia Care Awards 2019

“Listening to all the stories of each nomination shows just how many good people there are in care.” Our regular columnist Robyn Taylor shares some of her thoughts and insights from an inspiring night at the National Dementia Care Awards 2019…

I had the pleasure of joining some of The Daily Sparkle team at the 10th National Dementia Care Awards 2019 to witness lots of amazing people be recognised and rewarded for the incredible things they do in the dementia sector of care.

As always, it is great to mix with the team, meet new people and have a sociable night. But when you attend awards like this, what really hits home is how lucky you are and how thankful we have to be for those people who work tirelessly to provide the best care, come up with new innovations, and raise money to help those who are living with dementia.

Awards events often tend to have a celebrity guest presenter, who often don’t have much experience of the issues of the night, however, rugby player Ollie Phillip stunned us all with his tireless fundraising – which amounted to over £1 million – to support charities in memory of his grandmother, who died of dementia. He spoke about how she was the life and soul of the party, how she taught him to embrace everything and to keep on making memories. As he talked about all the challenges and world records he has accomplished, he said that he hoped his nan was proud of him, and how much he wished she was there to see his achievements. He went on to say that, for him, his best achievement in life was becoming a father, and how it saddened him that his grandmother wasn’t around to witness this milestone part of his life. As I was listening to his speech, his voice thick with emotion, it made me realise how blessed I am to have some of my baby’s great-grandparents around. At that precise moment, while I was at an awards dinner listening to the story of a much-missed grandmother, my baby was being looked after by his 76-year-old ‘great nan-nan’. With all the inspirational people in the room, it was clear that the host was also one of them.

Listening to the stories of each nomination shows just how many good people there are in care. We always hear the negative stories in the press, but we very rarely hear the positives. It was nice to be able to watch people being rewarded for such dedication to their jobs and such incredible hard work and commitment.

The awards included Outstanding Dementia Care Resources, Outstanding Dementia Care Innovation and Best Activities Coordinator For People Living With Dementia, which was presented by the founder of The Daily Sparkle, Chris Harding. The winner, Angela Hedley of the Oaks Hill Care Home, was selected because of her confident, gentle demeanour. The judges said: “The way she described her work was both authentic and inspiring. Her commitment to her residents and what makes them shine is why she was chosen as the winner.”

The Daily Sparkle also sponsored the Outstanding Contribution by a Person Living with Dementia award – an award which we were instrumental in adding to the awards list several years ago, because we wanted to recognise the commitment of those living with dementia who still campaign tirelessly for better funding and awareness. This year’s winner, Wendy Mitchell, is a tour de force, her blog – whichmeamitoday.wordpress.com – features daily entries about her life with dementia, her campaigning and her experiences, and she is also a Sunday Times bestselling author with her beautiful memoir Somebody I Used To Know – a heart-rending tribute to the woman she once was, and a brave affirmation of the woman dementia has seen her become.

There will be thousands of people out there who support someone living with dementia, whether that be a relative, friend, neighbour, care home worker, manager, researcher or someone who provides resources to support people. And many more. All those individuals who haven’t yet had recognition for their dedication, passion, and making the world a nicer place, should still be proud of what they do – making a difference to someone else’s life is the most important thing in the world.