Tonbridge’s ‘school with a heart’ on shortlist for dementia award

It has been nominated in the category of intergenerational activity for the ties it has established with Barnes Lodge Care Home.

The school was put forward for the award by Chris Parker, chair of Tonbridge’s Dementia Friendly Community.

Pupils have been visiting residents since the school opened 18 months ago.

During their fortnightly visits to Baker Lane they sit with the residents and create various arts and crafts projects together.

Mrs Parker said: “I do so very much want to be engaging with children and young people because they must understand – I want a completely dementia-aware generation.

“They’ve got grandparents or parents, and it’s not the science stuff, it’s about not being scared when you’re around people with dementia.”

Headteacher Donna Weeks said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have been nominated.

“This is a wonderful recognition of our special visits to Barnes Lodge.

“We are so proud of being shortlisted for our second award this summer.

“It’s recognition of all that we have achieved as a school with a heart for its community.”

For a third year in a row, Mrs Parker is in the running for the Emma Kent award for outstanding contribution to improving the lives of those affected by dementia.

She has also been shortlisted for National Dementia Champion of the Year.

“I’ve been really happy to lose to the people who have won the Emma Kent award in the past,” she said. “It’s just wonderful to be nominated.”

The 72-year-old is standing down as Managing Director of Abbey Funeral Services on August 30 after 35 years in charge of the family business.

Now the firm, based at 173 High Street, has been shortlisted as a Dementia Friendly Company with less than 50 staff.

Last year the prize went to another Tonbridge nominee, Castle Cars taxi service.

“The selection is done by people with dementia and their carers, so it’s people who understand,” said Mrs Parker.

“That’s important, that the beneficiaries are the ones who think we are doing a good job.”

Tonbridge won the top prize in 2018, Most Inspiring Dementia Friendly Community [DFC].

It has been nominated again – and finds itself up against East Peckham.

The new DFC has been set up by the village’s Community Warden, Sarah Edmonds

“It’s the parent community and the baby one, and we are up against each other, which I love,” said Mrs Parker, who has now taken over the reins at Tunbridge Wells DFC.

Building for the future

Bishop Chavasse has won the School Building national award at Education Business magazine’s ceremony in the City of London.

The school was designed by architects Arcadis, and the judges commented: “Headteacher Donna Weeks was heavily involved in the planning of Bishop Chavasse’s new building.

“The calm and spacious environment provides great opportunities for learning both inside and outside.

“The new library forms an integral part of the school, which features inspiring book areas in every classroom and breakout reading spaces.

“Comments from pupils and parent have been extremely positive.”

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