Val Wilson

I became a Volunteer Ambassador for Dementia UK having looked after my mother with vascular dementia for 14 years.

Dementia can be an incredibly lonely and isolating experience and it was so hard to know where to go to for advice and support. It actually took a friend to tell me about Admiral Nurses, which shows the importance of talking to each other and realising that sometimes help or advice can be just round the corner.

When my mother died five years ago, I felt passionately about increasing awareness of Dementia UK.

Val Wilson's Time for a Cuppa

As a family we would have benefited greatly had we had an Admiral Nurse available to us. The support and compassion that our Admiral Nurse in Purbeck gives to families is quite simply a lifesaver and more families should be able to benefit from this.

Holding Time for a Cuppa events is a fabulous way of raising awareness and involving both families and people living with dementia as well as reaching people who haven’t maybe given dementia any thought. It’s a very positive way of making new memories and connecting with people affected by the condition.

My last Time for a Cuppa was great fun. Each year I invite the local Women’s Institute and partners to an open door event at my house. Last year, we all ended up singing old time songs which proved to be quite hilarious, and evoked childhood memories. My mother and I used to listen to music every day, especially in the later stages of her dementia. It was lovely to sing together and a great tool to use if she was agitated, it also calmed me.

We thoroughly enjoyed the tea party themed quiz in the fundraising pack as well, with everyone getting quite competitive – luckily I had the answers!

I like decorating my dining room with the flags, posters and balloons, and have an area with my display board of local events I have held. I have lots of leaflets around and I always update everyone about our Admiral Nurse and what Dementia UK is doing and achieving to date. At the end of the event I sell off any leftover cake for a donation.

My husband’s Dorset apple cake won the day for the best cake (not that I am competitive at all!!)

As a Volunteer Ambassador for Dementia UK I try and go to every Time for a Cuppa event locally. On average it’s about five or six events a year. These events range from town halls to much smaller events where there may only be 10 people. It really doesn’t matter about the scale as each and every event has its own merit and provides an opportunity for me to say a few words about Dementia UK and the absolute importance of Admiral Nurses.

My top tips include joining the Time for a Cuppa Facebook page as you will get amazing inspiration and support. Don’t overstretch yourself, doing whatever you feel able to organise and cope with. This can include sharing a packet of biscuits with friends to organising a large community event. If you only inspire one person to become more interested in helping raise funds and bringing awareness of dementia and Dementia UK, then you have helped in ensuring that every family can have the specialist dementia support they need.