May 25 2017

A pupil at Aloeric Primary School in Melksham has become the 1,000th Dementia Friend for Alzheimer's Support's Dementia Aware project worker Sheila Ashley.

Jamie Whiting was one of more than 50 Year Six children to take part in the specially tailored information session as part of Dementia Awareness Week.

Sheila her colleagues and volunteers have created more than 4,800 Dementia Friends in Wiltshire since 2015, in a project run jointly with Alzheimer's Society and funded by Wiltshire Council. Sessions have been held for council workers in libraries, leisure centres and social care, for taxi drivers, shop and restaurant workers, firefighters, police and many more.

Sheila said: "It was so fitting that my 1,000 Dementia Friend was a school pupil. Young people are very receptive to learning about dementia as they have fewer preconceptions about the illness and some have had experience of dementia in their own families. We have run these age-appropriate sessions in several Wiltshire schools now and they are always a joy to deliver."

Dementia Friends is a national campaign led by Alzheimer's Society in which groups of people of any age come together to learn more about what it is like to live with dementia in an interactive one-hour information session. Friends are encouraged to turn their understanding into action to make their communities more supportive of people living with dementia and their carers.

Jamie won a copy of Grandpa's Great Escape by David Walliams as his prize and the classes shared a celebration cake. 

Sheila's colleague Claire Thomas is due to reach her 1,000th Friend at some point next month.

How Wiltshire is becoming dementia friendly.