Just in case you didn’t know about the Purple Angel campaign

Purple Angel founder Norrms McNamara and Elaine at Number 10 Downing Street

Purple Angel founder Norrms McNamara and his wife Elaine at Number 10 Downing Street - Credit: Submitted

I’ve been posting for a couple of weeks now so thought I would tell you all a little history of the Purple Angel dementia campaign and how it all started.

I have to say little did I know then where it would lead but so pleased it has.

The Purple Angel dementia awareness campaign logo, a purple figure depicting a person on a light-purple coloured background

The Purple Angel dementia awareness campaign - Credit: Submitted

When I was first diagnosed I was horrified how little there was going on for those with dementia, and even less, or nothing at all, for those diagnosed at aged 50!

Something had to be done but it all came to a head when I walked into a card shop in Torquay and I was having trouble recognising my money and said to the guy behind the counter: “ Please don’t worry, I will be with you in a minute, I have dementia you see."

His reaction was not only horrifying but something that has stayed with me. He laughed in my face, he laughed so loud and said: "Hey, I’ve got that as well." And everyone in the queue behind me also laughed.

As I walked out that day, seven years ago, the Torbay Dementia Action Alliance was born as I was determined  nobody in Torbay would ever suffer the kind of embarrassment I had.

A couple of years later, the name was changed to the Purple Angel as we know today and this is just a little what we have done in the last seven years.

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We are now known as the global Purple Angel as we have over 1,350 Purple Angel ambassadors all over the world. 

They also have their own teams and volunteers so the number is probably triple that.

We are now recognised in more than 65 countries and every year for the last five years have held a World Rocks Against Dementia or WRAD as we call it, this year’s being on June 19 with many countries around the world joining in every year including the USA, Canada, India, Australia, Turkey Pakistan, France and China, Italy and Spain.

We helped open the very first memory café in the USA , hard to believe as it’s such a huge country but there are now well over 1,000 with all different names but all based on our very own here in Torquay.

We opened the very first memory cafe in Turkey and South Africa and even made CNN News that time.

We really have put Torbay on the international map when it comes to dementia awareness and helping those less fortunate.

Closer to home, my work has taken me to Downing Street for lunch with David Cameron and Prince Edward visited our memory café a couple of years ago at Barton Baptist Church, where we hold it every Saturday, Covid allowing.

Did you know Torbay Hospital was the first hospital in the world to become dementia aware under the Purple Angel dementia campaign? A huge undertaking by the incredible staff who work there. It took us over three years to complete.

So many shops in Torbay display our logo, to which we are so very proud.

And those that don’t? Don’t worry, once all the pandemic is over, we will be revisiting Torquay town centre and surrounding areas.

We are community based and always will be, it’s the people of Torbay who count and we will always be grateful to them for all their support.

Norrms McNamara

Norrms McNamara - Credit: Submitted