Inspiring award winners give hope for dementia-friendly future

Date added: 23 May 2023
Last updated: 23 May 2023

Individuals and organisations from across the county have been recognised for making a difference to people living with dementia.

The inspirational heroes – selected from a host of impressive finalists – received well-deserved honours at the 2023 Dementia Friendly Kent Awards in a ceremony at Kent Showground's Kent Event Centre.

Hosted by Kent County Council (KCC) Leader Roger Gough, and Minister for Health and Social Care Helen Whately MP, the awards were a highlight of the Kent Dementia Showcase – organised by the Kent Dementia Action Alliance to coincide with national Dementia Action Week

Celebrating outstanding contributions to dementia support, and judged by people affected by dementia and their supporters, two of five categories were won by extraordinary young people.

The Most Dementia Friendly Community Award went to students at Sheppey’s Oasis Academy Dementia Group, who have been working in the community for the last decade helping people with dementia.

The Community & Partnership Project Award went to Valley Park & the Wrinkly Network, an impressive joint initiative in Maidstone that brings together sixth formers at Valley Park School with community volunteers to improve the lives of local people living with dementia.

An amazing retired nurse, ground-breaking NHS services and a dedicated Kent charity also received accolades for outstanding contributions to dementia support.

KCC Leader Roger Gough said: “Presenting these awards and hearing about all of the finalists’ dedication to changing lives for the better has been inspirational.

“As well as individuals like Wendy Richley and organisations like Kent & Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust using their extensive experience to improve services for people living with dementia, it’s been wonderful to recognise so many young people for their efforts to make our communities dementia-friendly.

“We have come so far in the past 10 years, with great advances in awareness and understanding of dementia. The students of Valley Park and the Oasis Academy give me confidence we will continue to make progress into the future.

“On behalf of everyone in Kent, I say thank you to all our winners, and to everyone working across the county in dementia care for your commitment to making a difference.”

Former New Romney nurse Wendy Richley received the Symone Salwan - Outstanding Contribution to Dementia Award for her tireless work to improve dementia awareness and support across Romney Marsh – including setting up five Memory Cafes that provide support and advise to dementia patients, their families and carers.

Wendy said: “I’m flabbergasted and honoured to accept an award in recognition of not just my efforts but on behalf of all the voluntary groups and healthcare professionals working in the community. Together we are improving services for people living with dementia.

“It’s so important we continue to work together to remove the stigma and fear of the diagnosis and condition to allow people with dementia, and their families and carers, to live their lives the way they want to.”

Kent & Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) won Most Dementia Friendly Organisation for its ground-breaking work around rapid dementia diagnosis.

Dr Afifa Qazi, Chief Medical Officer and Consultant Psychiatrist at KMPT, is leading the work across KMPT services to transform dementia care in Kent & Medway.

Dr Qazi, named Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Psychiatrist of the Year in 2022, said: “Over the last two years, we have undertaken a radical review of our diagnosis services, and this process has fully included people affected by dementia, ensuring that we continue to use lived experience to shape our services.

“This award recognises the hard work of everyone who has worked tirelessly to make these improvements to provide faster diagnosis which unlocks the door to care and treatment.

“A big thank you to all staff and a special note of thanks to the invaluable contributions made by our Dementia Envoys in shaping our service development and transformation.”

Local charity with a huge heart Alzheimer’s & Dementia Support Services (ADSS) scooped Most Inspiring Dementia Care Provider. ADSS, based in Northfleet, has been providing exceptional care and support for over 30 years to people and their carers who have been affected by dementia.

Alzheimer’s & Dementia Support Services added: “We are thrilled to have been recognised for the way in which the support we provide makes such a difference to people living with dementia.”

Commenting on their success, Valley Park & the Wrinkly Network, said:Being awarded for supporting others is so humbling. It demonstrates to the students how important volunteering your time to give to others, especially those living with dementia, is. Human kindness is so important.”

Oasis Academy Dementia Group said it was great to be recognised for integrating different generations and raising understanding and awareness of dementia.”

Alison Carter, for the Kent Dementia Action Alliance, said: “This was our first Kent Dementia Showcase bringing together under one roof more than 90 public, private and voluntary organisations which support people affected by dementia.

“In addition, we had 25 talks from dementia professionals and in the afternoon celebrated with 16 finalists the Dementia Friendly Kent Awards.

“We hope the showcase will become an annual fixture in May during Dementia Awareness Week.”

To read more about this year’s Dementia Friendly Kent Awards winners visit: