Sir Jackie Stewart backs dementia initiative in Wendover

Formula One racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart OBE has thrown his support behind a new initiative to make Wendover more dementia-friendly.

The village will officially launch as a Dementia-Friendly Community on Thursday, May 18, with a week of activities, including information sessions, workshops and events aimed at raising awareness of the disease.

The initiative is being spearheaded by Buckinghamshire Dementia Action Alliance, led by the County Council in collaboration with local residents who have dementia, community and health organisations, businesses and the parish and district councils.

It aims to burst the myths surrounding the disease, demonstrating that people can live well with dementia within a supportive community environment. Sir Jackie, whose wife Helen was diagnosed with dementia three years ago, has welcomed the initiative.

The three-time Formula One world champion, who owns a property in Butlers Cross, said: “For a small community like Wendover to take on a project like this is extremely worthy and can be helpful to a great number of people.

“Dementia can seriously affect an entire family and someone with dementia has to be supported, not only by their own family, but by friends and acquaintances who will step in to light up the life of someone who can be very confused, very depressed and sometimes very lonely.

“Well done to those who are making the effort to make dementia better understood and more importantly, being helpful to those and their families who are facing the challenge.”

Sir Jackie, who founded charity Race Against Dementia, said the disease needs to be talked about more openly, with greater understanding of its impact.

He said: “As many people as possible should recognise that all communities are growing older. We are healthier than our parents were and are naturally living longer. We are therefore potentially more exposed to dementia entering our lives, which can be hugely disruptive but, more than anything else, can be sad and frustrating for the sufferer.

“More people should share the concerns of recognising their own lack of short term memory, as well as the behavioural changes and difficulties with mobility that dementia brings to a person who, in the past, was potentially only recognised as growing old and forgetting things. It’s far more complicated than that.”

He added: “Dementia comes in many forms. It can from time to time provoke someone into saying things that would normally not be socially acceptable.It can provide a different choice of words during moments of frustration and sometimes anger, that could be challenging.

“It’s not unknown for the sufferer, through the same frustration, to strike out without the intent to hurt anyone, purely caused by the frustration of their own inability to clearly understand what is being required – even when someone is providing help and assistance to the sufferer.”

“Companionship is a big blessing to someone with dementia. Being taken out, even if it’s in a wheelchair or being supported whilst walking, which is sometimes uncomfortable, can also be a blessing.”

The launch event will take place at Wendover Library on Thursday, May 18 between 10am and 3.30pm, showcasing a number of services available for families and people with dementia.

There will be a number of free workshops run by experts including on the lasting power of attorney (10.15am), an information session on Dementia Friends (11.30am), and how to be aware of the dangers of fraud for vulnerable adults (12.45pm). For further information please call Natalie Judson 01296 382140.