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Building a dementia friendly world

457. Joy Watson

An Eccles woman set up the DementiaHavens group to raise awareness in her local area after she was diagnosed with early onset dementia.

After getting over the shock of being diagnosed with dementia at the age of 55, Joy Watson decided to dedicate her life to raising awareness of dementia and its impact, and improving everyday life for those with dementia.

Since her diagnosis three years ago, Joy has worked tirelessly in her local area to raise awareness and to make Eccles and Salford more dementia friendly. With the support of her husband, Tony, she takes part in large events, delivers training and offers support to people newly diagnosed with dementia – rarely taking a day off. Her work has made her an inspiration not only to those living with dementia but also their carers and local professionals.

She set up Dementia Havens as an awareness raising group with a mission to raise awareness in the community of the ways that people in customer facing roles can help people living with dementia, their carers and families. In Eccles she has signed up over 100 businesses to be part of a Dementia Haven, inspiring organisations to ensure their staff are trained on how to be dementia friendly.

Joy is also a national ambassador to the Alzheimer’s Society and is part of many of their high profile campaigns – often recognised in the street as a result of her trademark purple hair. As part of her role, Joy helps with local fundraising, hosting coffee mornings, helping with information stands in local supermarkets and taking part in dementia friendly events across Salford.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Since being diagnosed with Dementia, Joy has worked tirelessly to help people understand how we can all support people in our communities with dementia and Alzheimer’s. She is an incredible ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society, reaching a huge number of people and businesses with information and advice that will help them join the Dementia Friends movement. I am delighted to recognise Joy’s service by making her the UK’s 457th Point of Light.”

Joy said:

“Receiving an award for doing something I’m passionate about is bizarre. We all need a point of light in what can sometimes be a dark world. A diagnosis of dementia can throw you into a dark place, but if we can lift our eyes, there are lots of lights out there. People, who like me, want to help in any way we can, so that a diagnosis of dementia is not the end of the road but the beginning of a new journey. If you want to be a light in the midst of dementia, please become a dementia friend, the more lights we have, the brighter the future will be.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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