Getting out from behind my desk to go and talk first hand about Alzheimer’s Research UK is a privilege I enjoy as part of my job, but the most amazing part is the people I meet through our work.
One Saturday in the summer, I drove through the picturesque countryside near Bedford to the small village of Chawston. A local community group had organised their annual family fun day and hog roast and chosen Alzheimer’s Research UK as their charity partner for the event.
I arrived in my purple tee shirt with a box full of goodies to sell and leaflets to hand out. A gentleman in black leather trousers and matching purple tee shirt greeted me and introduced me to the event organiser, Caroline. Lloyd, who worked with Caroline, had arrived on his Harley Davidson motorcycle, and was the reason we’d been chosen as the charity for this event.
The original intention was for me to do a short talk in the marquee that held the bar and dance floor before the hog roast was served. But, unusually at the time, the sun was shining and everyone was outside sitting at tables enjoying the pleasant weather. The idea of a presentation style talk was abandoned and it was agreed that I go round the tables and talk to the guests in a more informal way.
By sitting down at different tables I had the chance to talk personally to many more people and they had the opportunity to ask questions which, in a presentation format, they may have been uncomfortable in doing. Lloyd and I, in our Alzheimer’s Research UK tee shirts, probably talked to thirty or forty people. Lloyd was an absolute hero, though he had never done anything like this before.
Hearing personal stories
I’m practiced in talking about the charity, about what we’ve achieved and the immensity of the challenge ahead of us all in defeating dementia. Although I’m a confident speaker, it’s always a little daunting to go to an event on my own where I don’t know anyone. I can recite statistics, I can answer questions, but what really made an impact was when Lloyd spoke.
Lloyd would say ‘My wife was diagnosed at 48′ and then tell everyone about how their lives were affected.
After my introduction about Alzheimer’s Research UK and a general chat about our work, someone in the group we were sitting with would inevitably say ‘But doesn’t it only affect old people?’ At this point, Lloyd would say ‘My wife was diagnosed at 48’ and then tell everyone about how their lives were affected – how her behaviour slowly changed, the joy and the grief, the challenges of caring for her and how at just 55 she’s now in a care home full time.
Lloyd was so open and honest and would answer the most intimate of questions. And he did this again and again, at each table we visited. We’d the opportunity not only to represent the charity, but to get to the heart of our cause and make it real and personal.
I’d like to think that we made a difference that day, and giving up my Saturday evening was certainly no hardship when I got to meet so many interesting people and, in particular, Lloyd.