Dementia Awareness Week was a busy one for Join Dementia Research Champion Chris Carling. Here we find out why.


What did you get up to during Dementia Awareness Week?

Not only did I give talks in libraries in Bedford and in Oakham based on my book ‘But Then Something Happened: A Story of Everyday Dementia’, I also visited Peterborough’s purpose built Dementia Resources Centre to promote Join Dementia Research.

Can you tell us about your book on dementia?

My book tells the story of how my own family dealt with a double dose of dementia – my Mum had Alzheimer’s and my Dad had vascular dementia, both at the same time. The library talks arose from the book being included in the recently-compiled list of Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia (for more on this Reading Agency scheme, see

How did people respond to your story?

At Bedford Central Library I had a good audience who seemed to be listening with rapt attention as I highlighted the way emotions and feelings can remain intact in people with dementia even as cognitive abilities fail. Among the audience was a group from the impressive Tibbs Dementia Foundation ( set up by ex-social worker Margaret-Anne Tibbs and offering a host of activities for people with dementia and carers. And though the talk was not strictly on Join Dementia Research I made sure I mentioned it and encouraged people to take leaflets and consider signing up.Leaflets_NEW

Similarly in Oakham, an enchanting little town near Rutland Water, I also went equipped with Join Dementia Research leaflets. Though organised by the library the venue was the fine Great Hall known as Oakham Castle – I had been pleased when I’d been told there was a lot of interest in my talk and they therefore needed a bigger venue. The audience there too were very much with me as I told of my journey as a carer. Some said afterwards that my experience mirrored their own.

The Dementia Resources Centre is the first of it’s kind in the UK. How did you find it?

My visit to Peterborough was in the company of Julie Philps, a Clinical Research Network Research Nurse from Cambridge who is taking the lead there on Join Dementia Research. The Dementia Resources Centre were having a lunchtime Open Forum so we were able to see the range of services they provide under one roof (from the Memory Clinic through activity groups to a drop in coffee bar) and then over lunch we had a Join Dementia Research stand where we were able to talk about the scheme and encourage people tHelpUsSpreadTheWordo spread the word. We were able to talk to people running Memory Cafes, a very dementia-aware GP as well as managers from Boots who agreed to take Join Dementia Research posters and leaflets for their stores.

These experiences demonstrated for me how awareness about dementia is slowly spreading – the more widely it spreads, it seems to me, the more willing people both with and without dementia will be to sign up to Join Dementia Research.

Read more about Chris and why she decided to champion Join Dementia Research.

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