The Sevenoaks Dementia Run 2017 held on the 14th of May was a huge success, raising a few thousand pounds for local initiatives to help those living with dementia in the local community.
As part of The Good Care Group’s vision for excellence in care, I am proud to wave the flag across Kent for the quality service we deliver. One of my biggest passions is the part I play as co-chair of the Sevenoaks District Dementia Friendly Community Forum. This work is born of the Prime Minister’s 2020 challenge to raise awareness of Dementia, to improve communication, support and information for those families living with or who have been given a diagnosis of dementia and to connect with businesses across the area to make them aware and part of the community movement for change. This vision dovetails perfectly with what we do every day.
Last year our forum decided that we wanted to do something big, something that would raise enough money to make a real difference. I pondered on this and realised that we needed to link what we do with challenge and fun. In 2015 Penny Hibberd, our former Consultant Admiral Nurse, and I had delivered dementia friends sessions to volunteers at National Trust Knole House as part of their initiative to be community focused and aware. Penny and I had been power walking with the Sevenoaks Ladies Joggers in Knole Park on a Saturday morning when a light bulb came on, I called my colleague Anton at Sevenoaks District Council Business and Communities team who are also part of our forum.
‘Anton we need to have a dementia run in Knole Park in Dementia Awareness Week next year’.
Anton was excited and we discussed how we could achieve this, my co-chair Symone Salwan from Home Instead was equally excited, and so the journey began.
We met regularly to scope out the possibilities and to plan the event, Anton took everything back to Sevenoaks District Council who took up the challenge and made things happen through their fantastic teams. We leveraged our local contacts for volunteers, services and communicated with Knole Estates.
This year, on the 14th of May 2017, the vision became a reality and I was proud to stand with the Chairman of Sevenoaks District Council Councillor, Larry Abraham, and Symone Salwan from Home Instead at the start line of the first ‘Run Walk or Push against Dementia’. A strange name I hear you say but read on.
This was a family and community event with three different categories. A 3k walk/run which was completed by a cross-section of people, the youngest was five months old in a buggy, there were quite a few buggies pushed by mum or dad and a couple of young people on their scooters! At the other end of the scale an elderly man who completed the course with a small oxygen cylinder in a rucksack, which he required to breathe. Then came the 5k run/walk completed by children, families and short distance runners. The 10k runners were a little more competitive and some strove for a good time. Everyone who had registered for the event had a number they attached to their shirt containing a chip which was triggered at the start of their event and at the end. It was very special to see three different run/walks events, competing for one cause.
Sevenoaks District Council organised a fantastic event using their mighty machine and the blessing of their Chief Exec. Almost every department was involved including the management of Business and Communities, media and communications, IT, the print shop and the whole facilities team. We were also supported by the Sevenoaks Ladies Joggers who completed warm-ups and encouraged everyone around, the Rotary Club; who hold a run every year, donated equipment, who were astounded by the number of entrants to our event. And a thank you to Tesco Sevenoaks who donated water and bananas, keeping participants hydrated and nourished. The event secured 450 entrants and we actually had to close the registration a bit early. Each entrant who registered donated an average of £10 each to run, we also had private donations made.
In the next few weeks’ we will have the total raised from the event (already in the thousands) and through the JustGiving pages which is still open for any generous donations. The Sevenoaks District Dementia Friendly Communities have set up a constitution and bank account and the money will be used for local dementia friendly projects and initiatives which will be reviewed regularly and communicated through the council’s quarterly magazine Inshape.
I am really proud to say that Belinda Berkley our MD, Dominique Kent our COO and Paula Smith our Head of Recruitment ran the 10k race. They were first on the start line and I was delighted to welcome them back all as they crossed the finish line together. I would like to thank them for supporting me and The Good Care Group on the day and for being part of the Sevenoaks Dementia Run – ‘Run Walk or Push against Dementia’, which I know will now become an annual event and will continue to be sponsored by The Good Care Group.
I wrote a thank you letter to Sevenoaks District Council which was received by their Chief Executive Dr Pav Ramewal, he included my quote in a communication to every member of his staff at the council along with his thanks.
Excerpt of communication: – Dr Pav Ramewal Chief Executive Sevenoaks District Council
‘A huge “well done” to all colleagues who also participated in the run/walk – I hear there were some great times achieved and a few sunburnt faces too!
It makes me really proud to hear such wonderful comments, one of which I would like to share from Elaine Ferris & Symone Salwan, Co-Chairs of Sevenoaks Area Dementia Friendly Community:
“We are very proud to stand with Sevenoaks District Council who embrace diversity, champion the wellbeing and opportunities for those who face adversity and who raise awareness which changes attitudes”.’
Thank you, and please enjoy the pictures, which can be found here.
Written by Elaine Ferris, The Good Care Groups’ Area Manager for Kent. Elaine has over 25 years’ experience gained in a number of health and social care settings, including NHS Trusts, hospitals, military hospitals, GP’s surgeries and residential care and nursing homes. Most recently, Elaine was General Manager and Registered Manager of a private care home for seven years where she operated a large dementia community, managing and training professional care teams. She was also responsible for building partnerships and developing business locally.