Community volunteers Lesley Fisher, Jeanette Cutt and Anne Bellis joined together at Salford’s Hug in a Mug cafe to talk to Quays News about Dancing with Dementia.
Lesley founded Dancing with Dementia back in 2016 after her sister, Jean, had been diagnosed with dementia.
The diagnosis meant that Lesley and her sister ended up spending a lot of time at appointments, in dull and lifeless waiting rooms.
Lesley noticed that there was nothing for herself, as a carer, or her sister to look forward to and she didn’t want their lives to be ruled by the cruel illness.
As the pair used to dance and the Grand Palais in Salford had just been done up, Lesley saw a perfect opportunity to create something for the community, she said:
“I thought ‘I like dancing, perhaps I could do something along those lines.’ I’d done some reading about dementia and found that dancing and music were very good for people living with dementia. It’s very good for people remembering the words and the dance steps.”
Taking up such a huge responsibility of creating an event wasn’t daunting for Lesley as she was brought up by parents who invested lots into the Salford community.
“I’ve been volunteering and fundraising since I was 15. My parents were always doing things for the church and for the community. It’s almost second nature!”
Lesley has very exciting plans for the future in terms of Dancing with Dementia and has no intention of slowing down her pursuit of creating something fantastic for the Salford community and surrounding communities.
Coming up is; a hotpot evening at Hug in a Mug, a trip to Blackpool and a speed quiz to raise money for the charity.
Despite being the founder of Dancing with Dementia, Lesley credits a lot of the success of the event to the people who work alongside her.
“You just need a magical mix of people and we’ve got that at Dancing with Dementia.”
Anne Bellis helped Lesley from the beginning in setting up the event with her 60’s music and dancing knowledge which were vital for the success of Dancing with Dementia.
Anne’s mother sadly passed away from dementia over 20 years ago, with the condition so close to he heart Anne couldn’t pass up the opportunity to help setting up an event to aid those suffering and their carers.
Anne said: “It was easy for me to get involved because I’d lived with it (dementia) for around 3 years and it was horrendous.”
The power of music and dementia had been clear to Anne while caring for her mother as old cassette tapes would bring joy to her mother who would sing along to her old favourite songs.
As Anne loves dancing and music, particularly from the 60’s, it was a no brainer for her to help out with Dancing with Dementia.
Anne reminisced about the early days of the event: “At one of the first dances that we had, a man and a woman were sat on our table. A rock and roll song came on and he got his wife up dancing. His wife said they’d never jived for years but he’d not forgotten to dance – she was heartbroken,”
Describing the experience of living with dementia as “a nightmare” Anne just wanted to be able to bring joy to people still being affected by the illness.
Jeanette Cutt is also a vital member of Lesley’s team who helps out with the money side of things, ensuring that Dancing with Dementia is on every month for the guests.
Working at Lloyds Bank, Jeanette happened to bump into Lesley whilst she was looking to help out the Salford community via the ‘Day to make a difference’ scheme.
The Lloyds Bank scheme is set up to encourage employees to fundraise as the bank will match any money raised and donate it to the charity involved.
The pair joined together for an Alzheimers Society charity event at the Grand Palais, Swinton before Dancing with Dementia was set up February 2016.
A few months after the event Jeanette’s sister Rosemary was diagnosed with dementia and ended up being admitted to hospital. Jeanette said:
“I began to get more involved (with Dancing with Dementia) as my hope was to get Rosemary involved when she came out of hospital. Sadly, Rosemary had a fall in March 2016 and never really got out of hospital. She died in August 2016.”
Being affected so closely by the disease, Jeanette continued to help out with the events after the passing of her sister.
“I looked at Dancing with Dementia as a way that I could give back something or to try and help.
“It’s a passion, It’s in my heart to do something. I feel that this is a great outlet that I can perhaps help others.”
Jeanette helps to raise a lot of money for Dancing with Dementia by fundraising, and then helps Lesley with the books to make sure all of the money being raised is used to full effect.
These three inspirational ladies have helped to create a very successful event which helps people across the community.
Another pivotal person in the running of Dancing with Dementia is Jean Brock who couldn’t make the interview.
Lesley paid tribute to Jean’s fantastic work in terms of the admin side of Dancing with Dementia, she’s quiet but an essential part of the close knit team.
If you’d like to get involved or attend the next Dancing with Dementia event then please see the below flyer with all of the information you need: