Calling all schools in Torbay

Low angle waist up portrait of delighted mature male sitting at table outside. He is holding cup of

The Purple Angel memory cafe will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

As we hear news about schools opening again, I thought this would be the perfect time to tell you about Torbay Purple Angels dementia campaign's ongoing relationships with our local schools.

I have stood and taken assembly at a few schools in Torbay in my time - my old teachers would be gasping in disbelief right now but all true!

When I do my presentations about dementia, I have different ones for differing audiences and the children are no different.

How I explain it to five to 11 year olds is different to how I explain it to 12 to 16 year olds, but there is one constant that never changes, the kids get it, every time, so very different to adults sometimes.

One of my favourite times was stood in front of a full assembly at what was called Westlands School, now The Spires, and when I told the children that some people think that dementia is contagious, so many laughed, shook their heads and shouted: "Don’t be silly!"

It was incredible, kids are so wise these days and a lot wiser than they are given credit for.

I have long been a huge supporter of the youth of today and as corny as it sounds, I really do believe they are our future.

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At the memory café we run, we have had so many visits from children on a Saturday afternoon, giving their time up helping others when they could quite easily be doing something else.

I always end the sessions by saying while we have children who do this our future will be very secure, and I passionately believe this.

One particular school, Torre primary, just before the lockdown were sending children to the memory café once a month to help out and the relationships between the members and the children was heart-warming to see.

We are, of course, hoping to start this up again as soon as we possibly can when the war on Covid has been won.

But it works both ways and we also help out where we can in other ways.

We have worked with Galmpton school for years now and have a wonderful relationship.

We even bought a bench for the school so those who were elderly picking up grandchildren could sit a while and enjoy the gardens the children had been working on while waiting for the kids to come out.

Every Christmas we are, and have been for many years now, been involved in donating 20+ Christmas hampers worth £50 each to families in schools in Torbay who are struggling just to make sure their Christmas times are a little easier to enjoy.

I have to say this is one of my favourite things to do and enjoy it immensely every year.

The schools also return the favour as well, not just by sending the children to the memory cafe but thinking about us when it comes to a little fundraising and have non-uniform days to raise money for our MP3 project, so it’s a great partnership and something we would love to extend with other schools.

So, once thing settle down, if your school, cubs, brownies, scouts groups and sports groups would like me to come and chat to them about dementia, I am more than happy to do so - please contact me.

As the children grow and take the message with them that dementia is nothing to be frightened about, then in time the stigma of dementia will diminish, and be gone forever.