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Quilting for Scotland

177. Ann Hill

A woman from Dumfriesshire creates memory quilts for people living with Alzheimer’s.

Ann Hill, who lives in Mouswald, has volunteered thousands of hours over the past nine years teaching quilting to over 250 people a week at Alzheimer Scotland’s Dementia Resource Centres in Dumfries, Castle Douglas, Stranraer and Clarencefield and other quilting groups. Memory quilts are created with the help of the families of people with Alzheimer’s, who share memories and stories with Ann and her volunteers. Together they create a quilt using images of these memories for families to use as triggers to start conversations with their loved ones.

Ann’s grandmother taught her how to make quilts when she was very young, but she did not have the chance to use her skills during her working career as Chief Executive of the Scottish School Board Association. After retiring, Ann took up quilting again and found it a good way for her to meet new people and while helping those with Alzheimer’s.

Ann spends three days a week volunteering and spends further time travelling to local organisations such as Church Guilds, The Scottish Women’s Rural Institute, and schools and quilt groups both at home and abroad to deliver talks on dementia and the benefits of memory quilting. She was given a citation by the Mayor of Annapolis for her work with quilting groups in the USA.

The members of Ann’s group say they have become more confident to try something new, talk to people outside of their usual circles and let other people into their lives to help them. Since Ann’s Hampden Park Quilt Project in 2013, where 5,000 quilts were brought together to cover Hampden football pitch and raising £40,000 for Alzheimer’s Scotland, volunteers have gone on to teach others the joy of quilting. Since then, other quilting resource groups have formed across neighbouring towns.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Ann is helping people living with Alzheimer’s in a really innovative way. Each quilt Ann creates with her team of volunteers is totally unique, incorporating special family memories into the design. I am pleased to name Ann a Point of Light.”

Ann said:

“I am hugely honoured and very humbled to be given this award. To say I am chuffed would be an understatement. My husband David and my family have always come first in my life but quilting comes a close second. I see quilting as a way of reaching out to others, encouraging them to use their skills to help others and to make new friendships. In this day and age nobody should have to go through dementia alone. On behalf of quilters the world over – thank you”.

David Mundell, Ann’s Local MP said:

“Ann is an inspirational figure who has positively changed so many lives. Her boundless enthusiasm and good humour is legend and everyone feels included and part of all the projects she has been involved with. I have seen her in action myself at the quilting sessions, and the worked produced is truly impressive. Everyone locally will be delighted to see Ann recognised in this way.”

Henry Simmons, Chief Executive of Alzheimer Scotland said:

“I am delighted that Ann Hill’s incredible work has been recognised in this way. She is an inspiration and a true force of nature; bringing passion, motivation and many, many quilts wherever she goes! It has been a joy to work with her. Alzheimer Scotland, and the thousands of people we support, have benefited hugely from her enthusiasm and dedication.”

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

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