Not too many people can say that they have started a group that has not only improved the lives of many vulnerable people, but has also had that group nominated for an MBE from Her Majesty the Queen herself.

One person that can is Lesley Fisher as the group that she founded – Dancing with Dementia – has just been nominated for the prestigious award.

Lesley was initially surprised by the nomination: “When I got a phone call on my mobile the signal wasn’t very good and I missed some of what was being said. I heard the word award and as we had been recently applying for funds I thought the conversation was about a funding bid! The lady said she would forward me a link. When I opened the link and it was about the Queen’s Award for the Voluntary Service I couldn’t believe my eyes!”

Lesley Fisher started Dancing with Dementia in 2016 after she found out her sister, Jean, had been diagnosed with the disease.

She took her sister to various treatment centres but found that they weren’t helping in the way that they had hoped.

Lesley said: “There was a lot of clinical l appointments in dreary rooms which were tedious and depressing. I thought there had to be something that can be done.”

“A friend told me about singing with dementia at Humphrey Booth centre and as Jean had been in a choir I took her there. Jean was far happier when we came out and we made friends there too. I met the Dementia Champions there who inspired me to do something. Here we’re ordinary people doing extra ordinary things. If they could, so could I!”

Soon after she created Dancing with Dementia, a place where people with dementia could feel safe and supported.

Women from Dancing with Dementia. Image taken by James Holt.

“I read up about a little about dementia and discovered that music and dance were the best therapy for people living with dementia. Dancing with Dementia was born!”

Lesley said that after a few sessions, there was a notable difference in the behaviour of the groups members: “Many of our guests arrived to the venue with a blank face and complaining that they didn’t want to be there.

“When the music started and they were encouraged to sing along with the records and dance if they wanted to the whole demeanor changes and suddenly they were agile and happy.

“The transformation was remarkable.”

Lesley and Dancing with Dementia have made a real difference to dementia sufferers and have been dually recognised for their efforts with this award – hopefully, the first of many.

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