Honiton Dementia Action Alliance was enormously proud to be named Dementia Friendly Rural community of the year at the annual Alzheimer’s Society Awards ceremony at Church House Westminster on 30th November.

The Dementia Friendly Awards are about celebrating the people projects and organisations who understand the challenge of dementia and are making the changes much needed in their communities.

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Jeremy Hughes CBE and Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Society welcomed about 200 nominees and guests to the sit down champagne lunch saying how astounded he was by the breadth and calibre of the 400 nominations received this year and commended the judging panel made up of people living with dementia along with national experts from the world of dementia.

Representing HDAA and to receive the award were Chairman Heather Penwarden along with Min Rennolds Honiton Memory Café Coordinator and Ben Willis and Victoria Price Honiton Community College 6th form students who volunteer at Honiton Memory Café.

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In announcing the winner Angela Rippon OBE and Ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society said “this award recognises a community who have shown evidence of exemplar planning, progress and impact towards being dementia-friendly”.

Following a formal on stage presentation of the award Heather said,

“This is truly an award for a community – our community – where individuals of all ages, voluntary groups, businesses and organisations all understand that life does not end with a diagnosis of dementia and do amazing things to help people live well with dementia. If everyone who has helped Honiton work towards becoming dementia friendly was here today then there would not be enough room for them all on the stage.”

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Heather went on to add, “the national spotlight is firmly focussed on Honiton now as successful model of how to galvanise a community to work towards a common cause.  This means that we will have to raise the bar even higher on what we want to achieve.

We have already received a request from an academic who wants to study the elements involved in bringing a community together in such a way and many others around the country have shown an interest in the range and breadth of dementia friendly work we coordinate from our intergenerational work to promote a dementia friendly generation to our social activities which enable people to live well with dementia to all our dementia awareness work for individual, groups and businesses.

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In the new year we will be announcing our theme for 2017 which will be about how to lead an active life to reduce the risk of getting dementia as you get older. The focus for this will be a Honiton Health and Wellbeing day in Alzheimer’s awareness week on May 20th along with a family fun run to raise awareness on the same day. As with all HDAA activities this will be a truly community event with many groups and organisations in the town already helping with the planning process.

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Heather paid tribute to the whole community of Honiton for working together to help people live well with dementia and feel safe and included in their daily lives.