Awareness campaigner takes over Tunbridge Wells ‘dementia friends’

Awareness campaigner takes over Tunbridge Wells 'dementia friends'
HAND IN HAND: Terry Hill’s grandchildren, Camron and Erin, take part in the Haysden Memory Mile walk

THE founder of Tonbridge’s award-winning Dementia Friendly Community [DFC] has been appointed Chair of the Tunbridge Wells organisation ahead of Dementia Action Week, which begins on Monday May 20.

Chris Parker, Managing Director of Abbey Funeral Services, set up the Tonbridge DFC in 2015, and has encouraged numerous businesses in the town to take notice of how they cater for customers who live with the condition.

Last year Tonbridge DFC was named the most Inspirational Dementia Friendly Community by the Kent Dementia Action Alliance.

Now Chris brings her expertise and enthusiasm to Tunbridge Wells as she takes over from Kate Sergeant, who will be concentrating on her work with the Alzheimer’s Society.

“I am delighted to be taking over the Chair of Tunbridge Wells DFC from Kate Sergeant, who has done an amazing job there,” she said.

“Thanks to Kate, we already have a small but dedicated team. I would love to build on this and see some retailers taking an active part in building a dementia-friendly town.

INSPIRATIONAL: Chris Parker, Tonbridge DFC founder

“Dementia Friendly Communities don’t just happen, they grow – one person, one business at a time. It’s another exciting challenge.”

Kate Sergeant said: “Chris has done a marvellous job in Tonbridge with her local knowledge and contacts, and is already making great progress in Tunbridge Wells.

“We need to build our connections with local businesses to create a network of dementia friendly people and places across the town.”

Tunbridge Wells DFC started in 2012, and she added: “The fear and stigma around dementia is definitely reducing and people are far more comfortable talking about it.

“However, living with dementia can be challenging and we still have a way to go before there is enough understanding of the condition and appropriate support.

“I would like Tunbridge Wells to be a place where anyone affected by dementia can feel understood, accepted, included and valued.

“In fact that would be a good thing for everybody, wouldn’t it, regardless of their medical condition. A dementia friendly community is a friendly community as well.”

Tunbridge Wells Dementia Action Week begins on Wednesday [May 22] with a meeting of the Trinity Encore seniors choir at Camden Centre – the usual venue is Trinity Theatre – at 10.30am.

At 2pm Chamberlain Court care home on Mount Ephraim will launch its Dementia Café.

CLOSE KNIT COMMUNITY: (l-r) former Mayoress Julie Rhodes, volunteer knitter Claire Leeson and Janet Richardson run the stall at Hildenborough Farmers’ Market with the forget-me-not yarn-bomb featuring walkers’ dedications

And the new Farmer’s Market at Market Square will feature an information stall and ‘yarn bomb’ on Saturday [May 25] from 9am to 4pm.

Three United Reformed Churches in the town, at Mount Ephraim, Hawkenbury and Rusthall, will also be ‘yarn bombing’ knitted designs on the railings outside their churches.

Members of the congregations have come together to produce artworks made out of knitted forget-me-not flower designs.

A similar creation was on display for Tonbridge DFC’s Action Week from May 6-10.

Their programme featured a Memory Mile walk around Haysden Country Park and a Virtual Dementia Tour at the Forget-Me-Not Café at St John’s Church Hall in Hildenborough.

Terry Hill, owner of Castle Cars, who won the Kent Dementia Action Alliance award in the Small Business category last year, said: “My staff and I would like to thank Chris Parker for arranging today’s Virtual Dementia Tour.

“Castle Cars have been involved with Tonbridge DFC for some time but this event certainly opened our eyes to what it would be like to be in the shoes of somebody suffering from dementia.”

For more information on Dementia Action Week, which runs from May 20-26, visit

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