From gorillas to impromptu Dementia Friends information sessions – the story of a train journey

This is a lovely story from Mike Gale, an Alzheimer’s Society trainer who has been running some initial Dementia Friends information sessions while our newly trained Dementia Friends Champions get set up. It’s a powerful testimony to the amazing connections and coincidences that can happen through Dementia Friends – one Dementia Friend at a time.

On the way back from facilitating a Dementia Friends’ information session at The Space, Norwich, I ended up running an impromptu session for a fellow train traveller. And it was all because of the decorative gorillas.There had been two large plastic gorillas guarding the entrance to our training room at the venue (one in Norwich City FC colours, the other designed to be a Freddie Mercury lookalike – sadly no pictures!). We started discussing them and I found out they form part of a wider exhibition of gorillas around Norwich this spring will eventually be auctioned to support a local charity, Break.

Talking about gorillas brought us on to talking about the real reason I’d been there – the Dementia Friends information sessions. My fellow traveller, Alicia, a Senior Account Manager for a regional newspaper business, said she had cared for her mother, who had Alzheimer’s, for a number of years before she passed away in the mid-1990s. Alicia had seen the launch of Dementia Friends on BBC News and BBC Breakfast and enthusiastically welcomed my offer to run an information session before she got off the train at Ipswich. So, out came the bingo cards and the tea-making and penny exercises (see Angela’s blog below), and away we went.

At the end I gave her a Dementia Friends badge and told her how to set up a Dementia Friends account on Alicia’s first Dementia Friends action was going to be encouraging her daughter, a primary school teacher, to attend the next Dementia Friends Champions’ training in Norwich. It’s on Saturday 6 April, if anyone else would like to join us – just go to the website to book.

2 thoughts on “From gorillas to impromptu Dementia Friends information sessions – the story of a train journey

  1. denise lee

    Please could yousend me info about the Penny exercise, have seen it mentioned a few times now, very curious, thanks

  2. Debbie mcchrystal

    I love this story about the impromptu information session but wondered if Mike Gale could clarify something? I had my dementia champions training yesterday and was under the impression that we have to register any dementia friends sessions we do beforehand. I like the idea of seizing those impromptu moments to spread awareness as well as running formal sessions. Is it possible to do this and register the session after the event?
    Many thanks

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