On Monday 13 September, the Lord-Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Mrs Johanna Ropner, visited Dementia Forward’s Hub in Burton Leonard to present their Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service; the highest award given to charitable organisations in the UK.
Dementia Forward is one of 241 groups of volunteers to be awarded this special recognition in 2021, and the charity was proud to also receive a special designation, for providing impactful support during the initial lockdown. Mrs Ropner presented a certificate signed by HRH Queen Elizabeth, along with an engraved glass trophy and pins for every volunteer.
Dementia Forward is in its 10th year, having started in 2012 with just 7 staff providing support to people living in the Harrogate District. It now delivers support to over 4,000 families living in North Yorkshire, with a local helpline and teams of staff and volunteers in all areas of the county.
Debby Lennox, Community Liaison Lead for the charity, said:
This award recognises our amazing team of over 180 volunteers and our wonderful board of Trustees, without whom our work would not be possible. Every week our volunteers deliver support through wellbeing cafes, singing groups, welfare calls, driving, administrating and fundraising for Dementia Forward.
They always say that they don’t do it for the thanks, and that they get as much out of it as they put in, but we are delighted that their hard work and dedication has been celebrated in this way.
The event, in the garden of George Armitage House, where Dementia Forward run day services, was attended by many of the volunteers from across North Yorkshire, who arrived to the sound of a harp, played by Georgina Wells, also volunteering her time. Also at the event were the Deputy Lord-Lieutenants Mrs Linda Fenwick and Mr David Kenworthy and the Very Revd John Dobson, along with Patrons Valerie Armitage and John Middleton.
Jill Quinn CEO of Dementia Forward said:
When lockdown happened in March 2020 we, like many other charities, knew that funding would be in jeopardy, but also that now more than ever our help would be needed.
The Trustees were incredible, making brave decisions that meant we could offer even more support than usual and working with the team to design innovative ways to keep that support going. In the first month we made 1,246 support calls, we posted thousands of hand-painted postcards with our helpline number on, and volunteers put together a video to spread the word on social media that we were still operational.
Our volunteers have been patient, supportive and flexible throughout. Instead of diminishing, our charity has grown, and we are now receiving even more referrals than before the pandemic – people with dementia have been very badly affected and we need to be here for anyone in North Yorkshire who needs our support.