Eight years on and still going strong

Torbay Weekly

This month sees the eighth anniversary of the Purple Angel dementia campaign which was born right here in Torquay.

Most will remember us starting out as the Torbay Dementia Action Alliance and that’s something we are so incredibly proud of and something that will never be forgotten.

It’s a little known fact that on the very first day when we held the meeting we had councillors attend, doctors, nurses, carers and the public and with a dream to make Torquay dementia aware, not knowing what the future held but with hope in our heart and a plan, well, sort of.

Many spoke about what was wrong within Torbay regarding dementia care but we explained very politely that we knew all that, and we were there to change things for the better so we asked them to concentrate on what we could do, not on what has happened previously,.

We can’t change the past, we said, but we certainly can change the future!

And with that, the meeting continued! It wasn’t until the end of the meeting and plans had been made when we all suddenly realised we had no funding whatsoever, not even for paper to print the minutes out - I kid you not!

So one of the councillors grabbed a vase from the room we were in, pulled out the plastic flowers and passed it round for people to throw in whatever they could.

And that, my friends, is how the Torbay Dementia Action Alliance / Purple Angel dementia campaign began!

So very hard to believe from that very humble start we are now, eight years later, recognised in over 65 countries around the globe, have been to Downing Street for lunch with David Cameron, and had Prince Edward visit our memory café.

But, more importantly, have now have thousands of Purple Angel dementia ambassadors in the UK and around the world who have their very own teams, so there are too many to count.

We opened the very first memory café in Africa, which made CNN news no less, and also were responsible for opening the very first memory café in the USA, of which there are now 1,500 across the States.

We like to think that The Beatles weren’t the only ones to crack America!

We also hold every year, and have for seven years now, a World Rocks Against Dementia where people all over the world hold a small or large event in memory of those we have lost to this awful disease.

We have had more than 22 countries worldwide join In and so many people across Torbay and the UK are also so supportive on this very special day.

We had to change our name to Purple Angel dementia campaign as everybody has to have a logo and because of the way we do  things, with nobody in the world being paid for what we do and all of us being volunteers, when we launched, the whole world and his wife wanted to know how we did it.

I must admit sometimes, just sometimes, I look back and think 'Oh, my word, what have we done' but then I know I am surrounded by so many like-minded people around the world who just want to help others, not for the praise or the pat on the back, but just knowing you have helped a fellow human being enjoy life a little better.

Please remember that we are open to all at our incredible memory café each Saturday and it’s absolutely free, including the laughter - see you all there.