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Spotlight on dementia as Calendar Lads complete latest challenge

Friday, 01 July, 2016
Spotlight on dementia as Calendar Lads complete latest challenge

A group of hospital staff have completed their latest fund-raising challenge to help people and their families living with dementia.

The Calendar Lads – so-called because they bared all for a charity calendar for their first challenge in 2013 – walked 82 miles from Berwick Infirmary to Wansbeck General Hospital over two days last month.

The group, who all work for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in Northumberland and North Tyneside, raised more than £5,000. The money is to be split between the trust’s Bright Charity, which provides the extras that make a difference to patients in hospital, and MIND Active, which promotes activities for people living with dementia.

Raising awareness of dementia has been the group’s focus for the last year and they have donated fiddle mats to hospital wards across the trust and more than 300 nursing homes in the area.

They have also signed up more than 400 dementia friends – people who pledge to learn a little bit more about what it’s like to live with dementia and then turn that understanding into action.

Craig Leathard, charge nurse in the emergency department at The Northumbria hospital, is the driving force behind the campaign.

He said: “Increasingly, dementia touches the lives of so many people and working in emergency care we see first-hand every day the scale of the issue and the effects it has on people and their families.

“It’s so important that people understand more about dementia and what they can do to be able to make a small difference to these people and this has been the crux of our year-long campaign.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure to be involved in helping to ensure that fiddle mats, which can help to soothe and calm someone with dementia, are available whether they are in hospital or in a nursing home and we are delighted to enlist so many people to vow to help them.

“The walk itself was indeed a challenge and we would like to thank everyone who helped us along the way from our colleagues at the trust and at North East Ambulance Service who joined us, supported us and made sure we had everything we needed, and everyone who cheered us along the way.”

The Calendar Lads were formed three years ago and have so far raised thousands of pounds for Bright and a chosen charity each year.

Brenda Longstaff, head of charity development and volunteering at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “We would like to congratulate the Calendar Lads for all their efforts and thank them for their continued drive and enthusiasm to help us provide the extras for our patients.

“As a trust we’ve invested in many initiatives over the years to ensure the increasing numbers of patients we care for with dementia have the best experience possible. These have ranged from improving the hospital environment, facilitating activities and holding tea parties and events and these funds will help us to continue to do this much-valued work.”

Stephen Ward, project manager of MIND Active, said: “Our charity is committed to help enhance the quality of life of hundreds of people living with dementia in the North East, and we can’t thank the Calendar Lads enough for supporting us to promote equality, fairness and inclusion of our deserving older generation.”

The group is continuing its fund-raising with a rock night next month and plan to hold at ‘memory walk’ at Kielder later in the year. More details to follow.