Guest blog: Alan Richardson
The NHS was always part of Alan’s family. When his father died, Alan made an amazing discovery – the birth of the NHS recorded as an entry in his father’s diary.
This year that diary was passed around at a service celebrating 70 years of the NHS. As a Join Dementia Research and Alzheimer’s Society champion, Alan has been inspired to pass on knowledge of his own.
Join Dementia Research Champion
My father Gerald never kept a diary, except for once.
When he died in 2003 I discovered the only diary he had ever written, from the year 1948.
A special year
At the start of the diary my father had written “hopefully this will be a special year” – and it was. Not only did he start working with the NHS, it was also the year he met my mother.
The St John’s Ambulance service brought them together. My father worked there, and one of my mother’s sisters took her along to a training evening. They were married within 6 months.
Just over a month later he transferred to start working for the NHS. He was there from the very first day, on 5 July 1948.
That historic moment is recorded in his diary: “State med service starts.”
Ambulance driving was his life. He really believed in the NHS, and was very fortunate to work through all the way until his retirement.
It was amazing for me to go to the service at Westminster Abbey celebrating 70 years of the NHS on 5 July 2018. I had to pinch myself really.
I knew I had the diary, so I decided to take it with me as well. At the service I got talking to people, and everyone I met wanted to see the diary and hear its story.
I think nearly 30 people ended up seeing it. There was a mini queue behind me outside the Abbey after the service.
It just felt like having my dad there with me – a way of remembering everything he did.
Passing it on
I’ve been inspired by my father’s diary, so now I’ve started to write down some of the things that happened to me when I was young. I think it’s about time I started putting some of these things together so my own experiences can be passed on.
After my late mother was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia, I spent 15 years caring for her. Once she passed away in 2009, I wanted to give something back.
I kept notes of my journey acting as a carer, just like my father’s diary. I believe it’s important to pass that knowledge on – that’s why I was interested in research.
In 2015 I became a Join Dementia Research Champion, in order to share my experiences of being a carer for someone with dementia. Everybody needs to have the chance to register their interest in research, and Join Dementia Research makes this possible.
I’m now been lucky enough to go to events and talk at conferences as well as sitting on some research projects, and I see the passion of the people involved in dementia research.
My mother and I had a lot of very good support during our dementia journey, and I want to make sure everybody is aware of the support and opportunities available.
We can all play our part, either by taking part in research or simply taking personal action to spread awareness. Together, we can make a real difference to the lives of people living with dementia.
This World Alzheimer’s Month, you can help raise awareness of Join Dementia Research. #PassItOn to someone who you think should know about the chance to take part in vital studies.