Get involved Volunteer Why we got involved Marlyn Jones Marlyn volunteers at Art group Holt, the Wildlife group, Movement for the Mind in Bowerhill and Devizes, Music for the Mind in Seend - and she also helps out with fundraising. "Hi everyone, let me introduce myself, my name is Marlyn Jones and I was married to Alan for 52 years. We got the diagnosis of Alzheimer's on 15th February 2016, (my 71st birthday). I knew several years before that something was wrong, to be honest for me it was a relief to get the actual diagnosis. Anyway Alan died in March this year after a fall at home in January. He enjoyed many of the activities arranged by Alzheimer's support, the art at Holt, the movement for the mind, the singing - and his biggest love was the wildlife sessions at Lower Moor Farm. Since his passing I have tried helping out at these sessions and am trying to help raise money for the organisation. I have a go at making jewellery and selling at craft fairs, but my biggest enjoyment is being with all the wonderful people I meet at all the sessions I attend. I find it very rewarding. These people don't know just how much they help me in dealing with my loss. I will always be grateful to them for the help and support they gave my Alan." Julian Lawson Julian volunteers at Lyneham Art group and earlier this year stepped up to lead a session when the art facilitator was on holiday. He created stencils for the group to use and helped everyone to produce some beautiful images. "I was born and grew up in Gloucestershire and moved to Wiltshire in my 20’s. I moved to a plot of land with the intention of setting up a smallholding or caravan park but got evicted because there was no planning permission. I had nowhere to go and no money, so was homeless from the early 1990’s until 2004. I lived in a tent, on towpaths and in fields, it was a really stressful time as I had quite a struggle with the local council and have also had anxiety issues since childhood. I did move back to the old plot (caravan/small holding) for a while and managed to get a cleaning job. Art kept me going, I’d plan excursions to places I’d like to draw – it was good for me socially, people would stop and talk. Art helped to keep me calm and to relax. It was good to focus on something positive. By now I was in touch with Doorway, a homelessness charity in Chippenham. Once I got settled I took an A Level art course at evening classes. Due to my anxiety issues I was also in touch with Building Bridges project and they sent me to the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. It was through them that I found out about Alzheimer’s Support art groups. They supported me to connect with and get a space with the group and I been here ever since. I enjoy the company – I do feel it’s a privilege to come here – such a friendly relaxed group. I enjoy working the group and see all the different approaches. I find it really stimulating. One of my favourite moments was when we were doing portraits so we were looking at faces on stamps. One of the wives was trying to remember the name of someone on the stamps. Her husband turned to her and said ‘Of course he’s a famous artichoke, you know!’ One bit of advice for other volunteers is don’t be scared to share your ideas." Wendy Clayton Memory Awareness Volunteer and Alzheimer's Support ambassador. Hello, I'm Wendy, a 71 year old retiree. I have a husband, three children, seven grandchildren and I play and coach bowls, which means I don't often have enough hours in the week. Certainly I never thought of volunteering. However, one Sunday after lunch I asked my daughter-in-law, Annie, about an article she'd written for the local paper. Alzheimer's Support were looking for volunteers to help with a new project, funded by Comic Relief. The first meeting was the next day and Annie suggested I 'come along'. The rest is history. My role has the title of Memory Awareness Volunteer and involves regularly attending a local GPs surgery and library, giving advice on the differences between normal ageing and dementia and signposting those needing help in the right direction. Talking to local groups is also an important part of the work - spreading the message that early diagnosis is vital. I've visited 16 groups during the last three years, this has not only been enjoyable but also very satisfying. I also bake and help out at fundraising events, including the Memory Tree event and Fun Days, where I man the Alzheimer's Support stand and chat to people about the work of the charity. My highlights have been some very positive write-ups in the local press, a trip to Westminster as a guest of local MP Claire Perry, and an enlightening visit to the Trowbridge Mosque. The latter showed how other groups cope, usually with no outside help, but as one lovely lady there reminded us in no uncertain terms: 'This disease is a b..... nightmare'. Volunteering with Alzheimer’s support has reminded me to listen and to always count my blessings." Rosie Westacott Rosie is a former trustee and fundraiser for Alzheimer's Support. She also volunteered regularly at Music for the Mind. "I started volunteering at Singing for the Brain in 2013 with a friend of mine. We both sing regularly in a choir, but this isn’t essential. What is essential is a desire to communicate with people, a willingness to join in (and sometimes look a bit daft) and a sense of fun. In return for one morning a week of our time we get to meet the most amazing, wonderful people, to hear a little bit about their lives, to (as they kindly say) brighten up their day – and to sing as well! Our typical session might include welcoming people, chatting to both people with dementia and their carers (for whom the singing is often a really important break in the week), making tea and coffee and, of course, singing. As volunteers we follow the singing teacher Caroline’s lead. We might be joining in with gusto, leading part of a round or singing a harmony. After learning new songs together, we sing some old favourites; it’s wonderful to watch a member who might have been quiet or closed off suddenly light up: a toe taps, a head nods, hands clap and, seemingly out of nowhere, someone who struggles to communicate ordinarily is singing along and smiling. So, all you really need to know about being a volunteer is that you will leave every session knowing that you have been part of something extraordinary that day." If you are a volunteer and would like your story to appear here, please let Annie know!