The idea was simple. We wanted to hold a free event to help and support our fabulous, rapidly growing community.

But we knew holding an event, even a free one, might be a challenge. After all, it’s often very difficult for family carers and people with dementia to actually get out of the house, let alone attend an event in London. So, would the 14 free workshops we had on offer (led by a variety of dementia experts) be enough to entice enough people? Would the free lunch and cakes we put on ensure all those who attended felt like staying a while? We hoped so and, since our mission has always been to help everyone affected by dementia, it seemed like a risk worth taking.

We’re now delighted to say that the risk paid off. On Thursday September 20, within one hour of opening its doors, our bright, stylish venue in central London was already a hive of activity.

Our DJ for the day, Mycal Miller (a cool dude who runs discos for people with dementia) helped us create a fabulous atmosphere, with an impressive playlist including everything from the Beatles to Bob Marley.

Then, after coffee, croissants and lots of chat, it was time for our workshop programme to begin. We had a wide range of subjects on offer; from how to become a music detective (building a personal playlist for people with dementia) to understanding vascular dementia and using technology in dementia care. Some of the seminars were so well attended that we ran out of seats… but nobody seemed to mind standing. In fact, the attendees were so interested, and had so many questions to ask, that the only problem we had was making sure each workshop didn’t over run!

Memorable seminar leaders included Simon Warner-Bore from Music & Memory who asked everyone to recall the first record they’d ever bought – a discussion that went on for a long time – and Sarah Reed from Many Happy Returns who kicked off her reminiscence seminar by asking everyone to describe a table they remember from their childhood. It proved a fascinating exercise. Try it yourself and see how revealing such a simple question can be. (A guest blog from Sarah is coming soon!)ma

In between workshops, there was time to take a look at some of our new Unforgettable products, which were displayed around the venue. Many people (family carers and professionals alike) were impressed by the innovative Unforgettable Music Player & Digital Radio, and our lovely new caregiver gifts went down a storm, as did our delicious Unforgettable cupcakes!

On a more serious note, Zoe Harris from Mycarematters and Julia Jones from John’s Campaign both spoke passionately in their powerful seminars about hospital care for people with dementia. They also had some great tips and advice to help make the hospital experience a little easier. Later, Rachael Litherland from Innovations in Dementia told a packed room about the many new ways people with dementia can take control of their lives, including the fabulous Dementia Diaries project.

So, was our first free event a success? Judging by the lovely comments and feedback we’ve received from guests, we’re proud to say yes, it certainly was.

Thank you to everyone who attended and helped us create such a special day. We hope you all found it useful and enjoyable.

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