On Saturday 17th November, I found myself in Windermere at what turned out to be one of the best days of my year. I had been invited by David Richardson to speak at the 3rd annual Cumbria Churches Dementia conference. Their aim is to make every church in Cumbria dementia friendly.
The lovely venue was the Carver Uniting Church in Windermere. The atmosphere was vibrant, welcoming and happy. We had a full house and delicious homemade cakes!
David opened the day, with an update on the impressive progress made in making the churches dementia friendly. The feeling of community was palpable. The Revd Richard Teal followed speaking about the challenge of dementia in rural areas. He spoke of how in the summer we see a beautiful farm in an idyllic setting with contented animals and the sun shining, but we need to remember that in the depths of winter the picture is very different, isolated, cold, a battle to look after the animals and if dementia is present what a lonely and frightening place it could be.
I then spoke about my life and my faith. This invitation triggered many happy memories I had long forgotten. I was once a Sunday school teacher of 5 to 7 year olds at Southwell Minster in Nottinghamshire. One recollection was on Palm Sunday, a donkey was brought into the service, it was a male donkey and I recall we lost the story of Jesus riding the donkey into Jerusalem and turned to biology instead! Children are wonderful.
Hilary with Colin Capper and others at the conference. All photos by Peter Paniccia
I was followed by Colin Capper of the Alzheimer’s Society who gave an excellent presentation on ‘The Search for Treatments’.
We heard about great local initiatives, including ‘Lunch and Lyrics’, ‘music to feed the brain and lunch to enjoy together’. And we did Biblical Yoga developed by an outstanding lady – Yvonne Myers – as a different form of worship. It really engages the residents of the care home she works in, by ‘acting’ out whilst seated the movements of well known bible stories it creates activity whilst triggering memories of the stories we heard in childhood. The residents love it. Yvonne is happy to provide information to anyone interested ([email protected])
The day closed with a beautiful service led by the Revd Richard Teal and we sang my favourite hymn, Dear Lord and Father of Mankind. And to finish, here’s my favourite verse:
Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
Where Cumbria leads, I hope others will follow.
Hilary Doxford, December 2018