August 11 2017

Children and staff at Holbrook Primary School have received a special award from Alzheimer’s Support to mark a year of school-charity partnership.

The Going the Extra Mile award was handed over by dementia aware project worker Claire Thomas in recognition of the hard work by the school where all 240 pupils are now Dementia Friends.

The partnership started in 2016 when Holbrook got in touch with Alzheimer’s Support as part of its whole-school Happiness project.

Deputy headteacher Rose Nunn said: “We wanted the children to understand that helping other people can be rewarding and make them feel happy in turn.”

Connecting the generations

Mrs Thomas and colleagues visited the school with the charity’s therapy dogs to run assemblies and hold specially tailored Dementia Friends information sessions. All 240 pupils and staff and some parents are now Dementia Friends, meaning they have a greater understanding of what it can be like to live with dementia.

Since then more than 60 pupils have spent time at the charity’s day club in Mill Street in a series of visits. As well as performing songs and dances, the children have taken part in reminiscence work, with both children and club members bringing in baby photos to share.  

Rose Nunn said: “Going to the club is an important part of the project as it makes it real for the children. They stand up in assembly and tell everyone what happened so it is a shared experience. Our community links are very important at Holbrook and this has been a fantastic partnership that is now truly embedded in our school culture.”

Pupils from the school also played a key role in the launch of Dementia Friendly Trowbridge in November 2016, where they read out a poem they had written about dementia before a packed conference hall. They have also and taken part in fundraising events, helping then Mayor of Trowbridge Linda Self with charity bag packs, selling knitted chicks, cake sales and other events.

'A fantastic partnership'

Babs Harris, Alzheimer's Support CEO said: "This has been a fantastic partnership. Young people are so natural and non-judgemental about people with dementia and they connect so well with our members. We have absolutely loved having them in the clubs and when they read out their poem at our dementia conference their words touched many people. We have had enormous support from the staff and from parents at the school and are looking forward to working with Holbrook for many years to come."

Alzheimer’s Support is now working with Mrs Nunn and her colleagues to develop an information pack that can be shared with other schools who wish to become dementia friendly.