Final MeetingDem International Meeting in Milan

Participants from the four countries, the Netherlands, Poland, Italy and the UK attended the final project international meeting last week (20th and 21st of January 2017) in Milan.  We were hosted by the Italian project team at the Don Gnocchi Foundation.

Over the two days we were able to reflect on the successes of the project as well as think about the outcomes of the evaluation and plan for the UK National Conference.


Witthout doubt one of the highlights was the visit to one of the Italian Meeting Centres at Carlo Poma Associazone CSRC . We were greeted by the Director Adolfo Cozzolino and were very quickly engaged in some invigorating psychomotor therapy with members and volunteers.


It was a real treat to sit down with members and family carers and share a delicious lunch  and share our experiences of Meeting Centres. There are of course some differences but the atmoshphere and the warmth and friendliness are very much something we all have in common.

Droitwich Spa Meeting Centre Christmas Party


Over 30 people attended the Droitwich Spa Meeting Centre Christmas party. It was a joyous occasion with much fun and laughter with delicious food prepared by the Centre’s amazing team.

Gill Read, Worcestershire Services Manager (pictured right above ) set the scene with a pre-lunch Christmas quiz  – an exciting two-team challenge. After lunch we had pass the parcel followed by a bit of Oomph, what’s not to like?  It really was great fun for all,  a real family occasion for all ages as you can see from the photo below.


There was one sad note though as it was the last day for Jan Little (below) who has worked locally for the Alzheimer’s team for over four years. She will be missed very much not least because she is one of those people who always make you feel better for seeing them. Jan we wish you well in whatever you go on to next.


Droitwich Spa First Year Anniversary Celebration


Friday 25th November 2016 was the  date for the  first year anniversary celebration at Droitwich  Spa Meeting Centre with around  8o people attending. Members of the community including those involved in  the  Advisory Group some of whom had signed the Meeting  Centre pledge a year ago, and most importantly those who attend the  Centre   were welcomed to the event by Alzheimer’s Society Manager Gill Read.

It was wonderful to hear from members and  family caregivers about  their experiences over the year, some of who were not sure about the  Centre at the start but who have since found it to be  a very valuable  and  important source of support, friendship and enjoyment – ‘the  friendship  it brings to all of us is marvellous.’ Professor Dawn  Brooker, Director of the Association for Dementia Studies at the  University of Worcester, spoke about the MeetingDem project,  how far we have come and how we might move forward  with a sustainable funding  model. There is a vision for a Centre in every town.

We also heard from Colin Capper, Head of Research Evaluation and Development at the Alzheimer’s Society about how the society will help support Meeting  Centres in the future.

Gill introduced Sam Arnold, the Meeting Centre Manager who together with his amazing team of staff has spearheaded this innovative and essential service. Many people were thanked during the event and it has been a fantastic team effort but at the end of the day it is all about  the members, they are the people who  make it what it is.

Proceedings were rounded off with a welcome cup  of tea and coffee and cake. It’s hard  to believe we have been  open over a year already. It has been an exciting and challenging journey but I wouldn’t have missed a minute of it. May there be many Happy Returns!

Dementia Friendly Leominster – Mayor’s Civic Service


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The Mayor, Angela Pendleton  with the High Sheriff of Herefordshire, Bill Jackson and Mrs Jackson.

There was a wonderful turnout on Sunday 23rd October 2016 at Leominster Priory Church for the Mayor’s Civic Service. Angela Pendleton is the Mayor of Leominster and she was accompanied by her husband Roger who is the deputy Mayor. Dementia Friendly Leominster, closely affiliated with Leominster Meeting Centre is one of the two charities that Angela is supporting during her year of office, the other being the Children’s Ward at the County Hospital.


Councillor Brian Wilcox  – Chair of Herefordfordshire Council and Air Vice Marshall Michael Smart – Deputy Lieutenant of Herefordshire

Droitwich Spa Meeting Centre 1st Birthday Party

Friday the 30th September 2016 was a very special day for Droitwich Spa Meeting Centre. Over 70 people, mainly members and family carers current and past, attended a celebration of it having been open for one year – hasn’t the time flown and haven’t we had a lot of fun and laughter?

Janet and Jan put on a fabulous buffet and there was a wonderful variety of activities going on. These included Alan and his T’ai Chi; Chris from Encourage; Becky from  Swish; Chris from the Civic Society and Deborah Rose signing traditional folk songs and much more. Not to mention the very popular anagram challenge – how many words can you make out of Many Happy Returns?? Can you beat 150? Let’s hope there are many more to follow!

Meeting Centre welcomes Marches Surgery

Members of Leominster Meeting Centre were delighted to welcome  staff from Marches Surgery based in Westfield Walk in Leominster. 10 members of staff, mainly receptionists visited as part of their CPD programme. They were all quickly embraced into the Meeting Centre and enjoyed a chat with members. I don’t think they had expected that they would be playing Giant Jenga but it was quite soon after arrival that the room went very quiet and everyone was totally engaged in extracting bricks and placing them on the top of the tower. The last time I saw the tower standing it was very wobbly and at a strange angle but this just served as a challenge and there were great skills in manual dexterity and nerve demonstrated – too much for me!

The Marches Surgery are represented on the Leominster Meeting Centre Advisory Group which helps with the embedding of the service within the Herefordshire Dementia Care Pathway. Information can easily be shared and referrals facilitated quickly. It was a real pleasure to be part of this visit and see this fantastic example of joined-up Leominster and what a wonderful community spirit there is.20160915-visit-of-marches-surgery

Droitwich Spa Meeting Centre does Countdown

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I spent a wonderful afternoon at Droitwich Spa Meeting Centre. After a delicious fresh and healthy lunch prepared by Hilary and accompanied of course by plenty of chat and fun the 18 of us there had a game of new age bowls. To be honest I find it very difficult to play and in fact managed to score nothing at all. It is a skilful game and you have to bowl very slowly and very straight. Fortunately there were a number  of much better players than  me  and  quite a lot of rivalry between the two teams – the Reds (Simply the Best) and the Blues (More than  the Best). It is an inclusive game as it is possible to bowl well from a seated position too  as was very ably demonstrated. A  lot of fun for everyone with that and more was to follow with Gill leading on  her Countdown  special. As you can see from  the look on Gill’s face and  the numbers on the flip chart members  really stepped up to the mark  to solve the  numbers game. This is a cheap and simple game to set up – of course not always that easy to play but hugely engaging and in a relaxed atmosphere such as that at the Meeting  Centre it is easy to feel part of it. I really liked the way the two different  activities complemented each other and were in essence just a lovely way to spend time with friends.

Brecon Dementia Meeting Centre Initiative Group Meeting

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18 knowledgeable and enthusiastic people from across the community attended the inaugural Brecon Dementia Meeting Centre Initiative Group (BDMCIG) meeting today at the Muse in Brecon.

The Association for Dementia Studies has been working with Dementia Friendly Brecon to move this initiative forward. Likewise Dementia Friendly Brecon has been supporting Dementia Friendly Leominster by offering advice and their experience of how to make a real impact in the community.

BDMCIG have been working very much to the Dutch MCSP model which has been used in Droitwich Spa and Leominster – using the Meeting Centre guide almost to the letter. A draft terms of reference was drawn up and there was an explanation of how a Charitable Incorporated Organisation called Dementia Matters would operate and relate to the Initiative Group. A Chair and Vice Chair were chosen. The first action for the group to be taken will be to carry out a feasibility/assessment of need within the community – a map of the local dementia care pathway with a list of existing services and opportunities. The next item on the agenda was when group members volunteered for the different working groups – key groups at this stage are the target group, location and of course finance.

It is really exciting to see how this is all taking shape and a privilege to attend the  meetings and to be able to give some insight and use the learning from the first two Meeting Centres. Hopefully there will be many more to follow. The next meeting is in six weeks time and I am looking forward to finding  out about how the project is developing.


Tea Dance at Leominster Meeting Centre

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Today we were invited to a Tea Dance at Leominster Meeting  Centre. The event which saw a good turnout of old friends and new, was led by dancer  Rachel Freeman from Everybody Dance. We had great fun dancing to a range of music from across the decades. After a much needed cup of tea and a piece of cake we ended with a rousing chorus of, and  much swaying to Tom Jones belting out ‘Delilah’. There is a tea dance about every six weeks at the Meeting Centre and there is something quite lovely  and special about dancing in the afternoon, it is not just for festival-goers, it is invigorating and just plain fun. There is a piano arriving this evening and this will be a wonderful addition to the many musical activities that go on including Blow your own Trumpet led  by a Meeting Centre member to name just one.