Peterborough dementia champion receives award for selfless volunteering

Heather Hooper and Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra. Photo from Fergus Burnett
Heather Hooper and Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra. Photo from Fergus Burnett
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A former carer who has helped hundreds of people become Dementia Friends has received an award for her volunteering contributions.

Heather Hooper from Peterborough won the ‘We Are United’ award as part of Alzheimer’s Society’s People Awards. They recognise both volunteers and employees at the charity who make incredible contributions within their community and to people affected by dementia.

A ceremony was held at St James’s Palace during Dementia Action Week, with the society’s Royal patron, Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra, presenting the awards.

Heather cared for her mum who lived with dementia for eight years. After her death she wanted to turn her experience into something positive and became a Dementia Friend. This is when she pledged an action to help more people understand the condition, which more than 1,900 people in Peterborough are living with.

Heather said: “Throughout my mum’s experience of dementia it became very clear the lack of awareness and understanding people had around the condition. A little education would have gone a long way.

“An interactive Dementia Friends Information Session gives you that glimpse into how it might be for someone living with dementia and the simple actions we can all do to make things a little easier for them.

“I was made aware of Alzheimer’s Society and the Dementia Resource Centre in Lincoln Road. I found out about training to become a Dementia Friends Champion, giving me the tools to go out and deliver the information sessions to others in the community.”

Heather has been a volunteer for Alzheimer’s Society for three years. In that time she has helped nearly 700 people become Dementia Friends across Peterborough.

She also visits Peterborough City Hospital once a month to deliver awareness talks to healthcare assistants and widely promotes services available at the city’s Dementia Resource Centre.

On receiving her award, Heather said: “I don’t do it for praise. I do it as a lasting memory for my mum. I’ve experienced first-hand the impact dementia has. If I can help others to change their attitudes towards dementia and see ways in which they can help, then it is all worth my time.”

Debbie Holmes, Alzheimer’s Society volunteering officer in Peterborough, said: “Heather is committed to making a difference locally, and thanks to her we are helping to make Peterborough a more dementia friendly community.

“We are always looking for volunteers and have a variety of opportunities available. Just a few hours of your time can be very rewarding, bring about new friendships and even enhance a CV should you still be working.”

Anyone interested in volunteering for Alzheimer’s Society in Peterborough can call Debbie on 01733 893853 or email debbie.holmes@alzheimers.org.uk.