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New Dementia Service Officially Opened by Henry Sandon MBE

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Droitwich Spa’s new Meeting Centre project for people affected by dementia was officially launched by Henry Sandon MBE, of Antiques Roadshow fame, with a crowd of over 100 people in attendance.

The Meeting Centre opened in September and has been building momentum and interest in the local community. A host of speakers were introduced by a rousing summons from the Droitwich Spa Town Crier before Henry Sandon MBE cut a celebration cake with one of the Centre’s members to officially declare the Centre open. Following this, representatives from a wide range of organisations who have been involved in planning the establishment of the Centre in Droitwich Spa signed a pledge of ongoing support.

Henry Sandon MBE said: “It is not only a great joy but a great honour to be asked to come here today. Congratulations to all of you for putting Droitwich on the map as I think the Meeting Centre will be a symbol of joy and hope in this country for the future.”

The Meeting Centre is the first of its kind in the UK and offers services for people with dementia and carers jointly. Combined support is not always readily available and the implementation of Meeting Centres in the Netherlands has improved the links between care and welfare organisations across the country.

The project, led by the University of Worcester’s Association for Dementia Studies, follows on from the successful implementation of Meeting Centres across the Netherlands and is being conducted as part of a pilot with Poland and Italy.

Professor Dawn Brooker, Director of the Association for Dementia Studies, said: “Although we are leading the Project, this is very much a community based initiative and the Centre would not have been established here without the active support of so many people who have been meeting together over the past 18 months to plan and prepare for today’s event and who will continue to be involved in overseeing its work.”

Colin Capper, Head of Research Development at the Alzheimer’s Society, which is currently funding the Centre, said “We are pleased to be involved in this exciting project and are hoping that this will be the first of many across the UK.”

The Meeting Centre’s usual activities were taking place at the same time as the launch and there were options such as dementia-friendly exercises and an introduction to porcelain by Henry Sandon for members to engage in.

Sam Arnold, of the Alzheimer’s Society and Manager of the Meeting Centre, said: “In a short amount of time that we have been open there has been a tremendous effect on members who attend the Meeting Centre.”

Hilary Hansell, one of the speakers during the launch, who lives in Droitwich and who attends the Meeting Centre with her husband Barry, said: “When this was set-up, we started coming along and I saw my husband come alive. We do puzzles, quizzes and exercises for our brains: I think this is the future of dementia care.”

Please follow this link for further photos from the event: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/4v0ytks51we7nmi/AACMKLIrmuDqJP52VLbtpRdda?dl=0

For more information on the Meeting Centre, please visit https://droitwichspameetingcentre.wordpress.com/, call 01905 621868 or e-mail sam.arnold@alzheimers.org.uk.