Hands outstretched around the world 

Robin Williams

Robin Williams - Credit: PA

Last Monday, I had the honour of speaking to other board members of the New York-based Lewy Bodies Association USA via Zoom.

I was asked to join the board earlier this year. It’s the only organisation of its kind in the USA and advised on the film about actor Robin Williams, who sadly passed away because of Lewy bodies dementia.

It's surprising how different we look at things across the world when it comes to dementia and as big as the USA is, they really do look to the UK when it comes to ideas and how to help those with dementia.

It is said that the Purple Angel campaign started right here in little old Torquay was the inspiration for the first-ever memory cafe in the whole of the USA - a place called Arthurs Café in Minnesota.

Now there are more than 1,800 memory cafes across the USA, so not a bad legacy!

And we did open the very first South African memory cafe, which actually made CNN News!

So by sharing what we do, and not being precious about what we do is, in our humble opinion, the best way to help others and sharing info is free, a great mantra we live by here in Torbay.

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The chairperson of the board of Lewy Bodies USA has some very exiting ideas herself and that’s the reason I was asked to join the discussion and give, my advice, which I did readily, but I have to say it's two very different worlds.

Where we in the UK would do what we do without much worry of lawsuits and being sued, in the USA they are held back so much by such thoughts and worries which is so very sad.

It's as if they are handcuffed and guilty even before they do something and most of the time it really is for the good of others.

Goodness me, I hope that never happens here in the UK and it really is up to me to learn and understand their ways before I open my big, Northern mouth and say what I think, which is something I am known for!

But I really do think about what I say before I say it. I am much better since moving to Torquay all those years ago, believe it or not!

But I am sure we will come to some agreement as I learn how it works, because isn’t that what it’s all about? Understanding and learning from each other?

We all have our different ways of doing things so compromise is a wonderful thing.

I am blessed that I have this opportunity to make a difference to those in need across the globe.

I have advised on many things here in the UK and farther afield, and it gives me a voice, a purpose, keeps me busy and according to my doctors, is the reason I keep as well.

But as the saying goes, 'north, south east or west always know that home is best' and I regard Torquay as home and have done for years.

That’s why I am so grateful for the Torbay Weekly for giving me the chance to discuss dementia with you guys every week so we can drag it, kicking and screaming, out of the Dark Ages, lay it bare, and show people what it really is, which is just another disease like the next one.