22nd January 2024

Sheila Jennings, who has died at the age of 92, first joined Alzheimer’s Support as a volunteer in 1991, having previously volunteered in a dementia hospital in the United States. 

In 1994 she was instrumental in setting up the Friends of Alzheimer’s Support, the charity’s volunteer fundraising arm in West Wiltshire. For the next two decades, the group of friends baked, ran cake, chutney and bric-a-brac stalls, attended Christmas markets, May fayres, open gardens, fun runs and carnivals, and organised carol concerts, coffee mornings and fashion shows.

The money that they raised paid for the extras that made all the difference to our work – the outings, cream teas for the people we supported, equipment for activities, and much more besides. The small band of volunteers became good friends and held regular planning meetings as well as running events and helping build the charity’s profile in West Wiltshire.

Sheila was a keen runner, so in 1996 she approached her club, the Avon Valley Runners, with the idea of a charity run. In return she agreed that her ladies would lay on refreshments for everyone taking part and their supporters, with the proceeds going to Alzheimer’s Support.

It was a brilliant idea. Nearly 30 years later, the annual Over the Hills run is still going strong and is a popular event in the club’s calendar. Sheila, at the age of 91, was a very welcome visitor at the most recent event in November, and brought one of her famous lemon drizzles along for the cake stall – still a highlight of the event. 

Sheila expanded her volunteer role in 2014, joining our team of memory awareness volunteers giving talks about memory loss to local groups in the community and GP surgeries.

But before long Sheila and her husband Ron were themselves being supported themselves by the charity, after Ron was diagnosed with dementia. He attended the Mill Street club in Trowbridge, and the couple both went along to the fortnightly Movement for the Mind group in Melksham. Sheila also joined our carers computer club, was given her own laptop and proved a quick learner.

When Sheila moved to Wadswick Green retirement village near Corsham after Ron's death, she took a break from fundraising, but kept in touch. Last summer she helped arrange a coffee morning for Alzheimer’s Support at her new home. 

She supported our charity so loyally, and will be missed by her family and many friends.

Her family has asked for any donations in memory of Sheila to go to Alzheimer's Support.

Click here if you would like to make a donation in memory of Sheila.