Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The Choir of a Hundred Hugs

Thank you Linking Voices for a musical treat and a smile which lasted me long after the enthusiastic applause died away- from now on I will always think of you as "the Choir of a Hundred Hugs".

Going along to the Exeter Phoenix on a dank and chilly Saturday in early December 2010, I wondered if there would be much of a turn out. Surely most people would be heavily involved in preparations for Christmas and far too busy to make time for a concert by a choir of potentially frail old folks run by something unglamorously entitled "Age Concern"?

How mistaken could I have been. By the time I managed to make it into the auditorium, more seating was being brought out and mutterings of "it'll be standing room only soon" could be heard. As I settled into my seat, notebook at the ready, I heard a voice behind me - "What's this, a Simply Red tribute band?!" Looking up I understood - a stage full of women wearing every shade of red, and even some in purple, jostled for space under the bright lights, joined by the smaller but always crucial male section, the men being slightly more soberly clad. The relaxed approach of the choir's leader, Vicky, allowed a friendly atmosphere to develop as seating problems were resolved and she prepared the singers for their first song; a tender rendition of "California Dreaming" which put a smile on my face lasting the rest of the afternoon and set the tone for a varied and most enjoyable concert, including plenty opportunity for audience participation. It didn't take much urging from Vicky before the Phoenix was humming with exciting vocal harmonies, not to mention Maori hand gestures.

Chatting with the singers afterwards, I experienced a full confirmation of my own experience of the multiple benefits to be had by anyone joining a community choir. Perhaps due to the particular "fifty plus" age range of the members of the Linking Voices choir, I heard several poignant stories  of how the restorative experience of joining the choir had not only brought them safely through periods of serious  sickness or bereavement, but also enriched  their lives with a sense of belonging to a new "family". One member graphically described how her friend had seemed "small and shrunken and fearful"when she first came along. The best description I can offer today is "sparkling with fun and confidence" as she tells me of the difference the Linking Voices choir has made to life and how she now sings in three different choirs.

When asked if she could say what she gets out of the choir, their smiling leader Vicky told me:
"I can’t stop singing, I’ve always been singing and it keeps me healthy and happy and connected to people - I see people who've been looking at the ground, singing very quietly - if they're daring to sing at all - having been told since childhood they couldn’t sing - and suddenly they're standing on a stage dressed in bright red, singing out, with no piano accompaniment, feeling powerful with their voices and really enjoying themselves. I just love to see people grow in confidence, to see them coming out of their shells and just growing - and just having a really good time. And it's a two way street for me - I’ve made lots of new friends and as for the hugs, with hugs on the way in and hugs on the way out, I get a hundred hugs a day!"

Thanks to Meg Compton for her review

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Cuts and Older People

After all the hype and speculation about the comprehensive spending review, the country now knows where George Osborne and the Coalition Government are planning to target cuts of £81 billion over the next four years. But what will the likely impact be for older people? Age UK, the new national body formed from the merger of Age Concern England and Help the Aged, has been lobbying government hard over the last weeks and months to protect the interests of older people, both financially, and in health and social care services. So what’s the damage? Actually, on the financial front remarkably little it seems, unless you’re in your early fifties and will have to work longer before you get your state retirement pension, or you still qualify for child benefit and are in the higher tax bracket.

Universal benefits, such as free prescriptions and eye tests for people over 60, free televison licences for those over 75 and the highly valued Winter Fuel Payment, have all been retained. Many had been concerned that the Winter Fuel Payment that pays £250 per household to people over 60, and £400 to those over 80, would be withdrawn. So the fact that it is continuing, for the time being at least, is a relief. Less positive, however, is the government’s announcement that it intends to phase out the Warm Front scheme, which provides help to make the homes of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society – many of whom will be older people dependent on Pension Credit – more energy efficient and therefore warmer and safer. The Governmant plans to reduce Warm Front’s current £280m per annum expenditure by more than half next year, before phasing the scheme out altogether in 2013. This is a real concern when one considers the large number of excess winter deaths that are still recorded each year.

It is vital, therefore, that older people check they are receiving everything to which they are entitled. If you are single and have a total income of less than £130 per week or a couple with less than £198 per week then you should check to see if you are entitled to pension credit. You can contact the pension service on 0800 99 1234 (have your NI number, details of income and savings and the account to which you want the payment to be made ready when you phone). Alternatively, you can contact Age Concern Exeter’s Information & Advice service, which runs Monday to Thursday, 10am to 1pm, on 01392 202092 with this or any other query.

Of course, as well as cuts, the chancellor also announced changes to the state pension age. A policy to change the state retirement age to 66 for both men and women has been accelerated, and will now come into force from April 2020 – six years earlier than originally planned. Women’s pension age will now increase more quickly between 2016 and 2018 to reach 65, before rising to 66 in 2020. The Government is also considering a timetable for future increases in state retirement age to 68 – goodness knows what our friends across the Channel would make of that!

The other announcement that will have a big impact on many older people is the cut of 28% to local councils. This is a huge reduction in expenditure for council’s to manage over four years, and will have a serious impact on local services. Many councils, Devon included, have been planning for a 25% reduction, so this is even worse than they feared. At a recent meeting, I heard Phil Norrey, chief executive of Devon County Council, say that if the cuts were in the order of 25%, then even if the council got rid of its 200 most highly paid staff and all its corporate services such as HR, IT, finance etc, it would still only save half the money required by Government. The consequence is that frontline services will inevitably be hit.

Devon County Council has responsibility for commissioning – that is paying for – social care services. Services that support the most vulnerable to live independently at home through a range of support, or, where that is not possible, by funding their long-term care where they do not have the finances to pay for it themselves. Of course, the majority of people who desperately need such support are older people and their carers. My plea to John Hart, the leader of Devon County Council, and Stuart Barker, the elected member responsible for social services, is to do all they can to protect social care funding.

We all know the demands for social care services are rising with an ageing population and an increase in the number of families coping with dementia. To remove funding from already over-stretched services could actually increase costs through older people ending up in hospital or long-term care sooner than would otherwise be the case, or carers being left unsupported and therefore unable to cope. The Council is obviously between a rock and a hard place, but protecting the most vulnerable must be their first duty. John Hart is currently asking for people’s views on how the Council should deal with the difficult decisions ahead. If you agree with me, that social care services should be protected in just the same way health services have been (they are two sides of the same coin, after all), then please let John Hart know your views. You can write to him at County Hall, Exeter, EX2 4QD, email him at or go to the Devon County Council website and completing the 5 minute ‘Tough Choices’ survey.  Vulnerable older people and their carers need our support.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Kathy's Parachute Jump

I finally jumped on Sunday at 16.30pm and can honestly say it was the most exhilarating and amazing experience of my life.

Dunkeswell has the fastest jump plane in the UK, most Tandems are 10,000 feet, this is due to the altitude, if you are at a height above 10,000 feet you will normally need oxygen, but the plane at Dunkeswell is so fast, you are only at this extraordinary height for a couple of minutes before jumping.

As the plane gained height, I looked out of the window with mounting excitement and could not help but think of the 101st Airborne as they would of flown this exact route on D-Day, Upottery Airfield is only a stones throw away from Dunkeswell, and this is where they took off from .

After a few safety checks and 8-9 minutes in the air, a loud buzzer sounded, the door opened and the "Green Go" light appeared, everyone started shuffling forward (we are all in a sitting position) I watched amazed as one by one my "fellow jumpers" disappeared from sight out the plane door, I reached the open door, the plane flying level at 15000 feet and my partner shouts "Knees", so here is me, on my knees leaning out of a plane door laughing my head off, I feel a push in the back and that's it, I am out, free falling at a speed up to 140mph, the G Force is incredible, my ears are screaming, I am turning my head (with difficulty) from left to right to take in all the beautiful scenery, next thing I see is a Proffesional Freefaller in front of me holding my hands and giving me the thumbs up, I cant believe I am having a conversation at about 12000 feet with another person, he shouts "Bye" and waves and then flies off! My nose is running, my eyes are streaming behind the goggles and as I try to whoop and shout the force of the wind stifles the noise from my mouth, next thing I feel is myself being sucked back up into the sky and the most incredible silence and feeling of calmness and tranquility, the canopy has opened and I am now floating gracefully over the clouds, I am allowed to take control of the canopy and shown how to spin and twist and turn, it's the most magical feeling ever, we descend through the clouds and the view is just awesome, I feel free and alive and excitedly go into "Kathy" mode, chattering non-stop, I can see as far as Portland Bill on my left and Torbay on my right, we swing the canopy round and I can see Lundy Island illuminated by a perfect red sky, this is just stupendously wonderful, I look down (a little sad) as the ground is rushing towards us at an incredible speed and pull my knees up ready for landing, we land perfectly and slide on our bottoms to a stop about 20 metres along the grass, my partner unclips my harness, and I turn and hug him, thanking him profusely.

What an amazing experience, one I need to repeat and will never forget.

Kathy Knight, Ground Floor Manager

Monday, 8 November 2010

Talking Heads Review

Last Wednesday, I attended the first of two Talking Heads shows at the Globe Hotel in Topsham. Although I'm a Northerner, Alan Bennett seems to have escaped me so I really didn't know what to expect. I also wasn't sure what a 'rehearsed reading' would be like. I certainly didn't expect it to be as animated and enjoyable as it was!

There were two performances, first from Beth who is a drama student at Exeter University. Her role was that of an aspiring actress who thinks she's got a big break in the movies. It was wonderfully acted and I stopped seeing the piece of paper with the words because it was so well rehearsed that Beth hardly looked at it. She made lots of eye contact with the audience and delivered the story well.

The second performance was from our own Nicola Weate. Her character was a much older lady who finds herself widowed and unable to do as much for herself as she'd like. It was quite poignant because of the work that we do at Age Concern Exeter and the clients that we have. I felt quite emotional throughout. Nicola played the part wonderfully and both actresses received long applause after each monologue.

If you were in any doubt as to whether to attend the next event this Friday, buy your ticket now! It was a truly wonderful evening of entertainment and I can't wait for the next one which features our own Tony Harvey and Corinne Bailey.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Talking Heads

Age Concern Exeter is celebrating the talents of playwright, and national treasure, Alan Bennett in two nights of rehearsed readings of his much applauded Talking Heads series. The monologues will be performed by staff and supporters of Age Concern Exeter on Wednesday 3rd and Friday 12th November at The Globe Hotel in Topsham, starting at 7.30pm. The first show features ‘Her Big Chance’ and ‘A Cream Cracker Under The Settee’, performed by Beth Kennedy and Nichola Weate while the second showcases ‘A Chip In The Sugar’ and ‘Bed Among The Lentils’ with Tony Harvey and Corinne Bailey bringing Alan Bennett’s words to life.

Martyn Rogers, Age Concern Exeter’s director said “In these difficult times we are looking at a whole range of new fundraising events to support our services for older people in Exeter. I am really excited that through the keen acting talents of some of our staff and the help of Beth, a drama student at Exeter University, people can enjoy Alan Bennett’s brilliant monologues as theatre in the lovely atmosphere of the Globe Hotel. The shows will be both moving and funny and provide a great evening out. All the proceeds from the shows will go to help fund our service providing support and information to carers of people with dementia”.

Tickets are £8 each call 01392 202092  

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Easy Fundraising - Easy Free Money!

A couple of months ago, I discovered a website called EasyFundraising which offers a cashback donation for shopping with over 2,000 well known online shops. It costs nothing, just a few seconds of time to login and then click on your favourite retailer.

I'm not a fan of going into the City Centre so online shopping really works for me. Here's some of the purchases that I made:

  • I bought some clothes from Marks and Spencers and BHS.  M&S and BHS both offer 2.5% cashback and so £2.36 was raised from these purchases. 
  • Grocery orders with Sainsbury's give a 50p contribution with every grocery order placed. 
  • I bought my favourite band's new CD from who gave a 1% contribution. 
  • Organising a courier delivery from Parcel2Go offered a £2 cashback to new customers
  • Littlewoods catalogue company awarded £1.20 for spending £30 on clothes. 
  • An assortment of nominal eBay purchases amounted to £1.50 - they offer a whopping 15% cashback!

In total, I've raised £8.30 for charity in two months by buying things that I'd have bought anyway. Although some purchases only awarded a few pence, it does all add up.  Now imagine all of our Facebook and website users using this website! EasyFundraising could potentially be an excellent source of income for us. Please spread the word.... every bit really does count.

Heather Pearson - Community Fundraising Administrator

Find out more on our website

Thursday, 5 August 2010

We're going to jump out of a plane!

We're doing as much fundraising as we can at the moment; the next big thing we've got coming up on the Age Concern Exeter calendar is the skydive on the 21st of August - and we cannot WAIT! Come along and support us, it's going to be a great day out :-)

Nerves are edging towards us, as we edge closer towards the date of our jump...the last bits of fundraising are going on, as we try and ensure that we hit the £400 target that we each have. Some of our fantastic volunteers have raised far above that already - a MASSIVE well done to them!!

We want to raise money to make a difference to older, possibly vulnerable, people that need out support in anything from having someone to chat to over the phone for ten minutes, take them for their weekly shoppingm or talk them through their financial plans for the future. Age Concern Exeter offers a fantastic range of services but, without the funding that we so desperately need, we won't be able to keep helping our local community.

Any support you can give us is always much more than welcome. If you want to find out more about Age Concern Exeter, give us a ring on 01392 202092.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Margaret Branch, RIP

A Brownie Guide thinks of others before herself, and does a good turn every day. This certainly was how Margaret Branch continued to lead her life and make an impact and impression on those she met.

It was a sad day at Age Concern Exeter when we heard Margaret had passed away on Friday 30th July 2010. Throughout her 90 years she had been actively involved with the pioneering young women's movement the Girl Guides. Latterly though, we had also had the privilege of getting to know her as she had been involved with Senior Voice, Age Concern Exeter’s platform for allowing older people’s voices to be heard by those in power, for over 4 years. She was a member of the Senior Voice Panel for 3 years and always contributed much to the meetings; she had a great understanding of the needs of vulnerable older people and championed the cause on many occasions.

I was honoured to spend time with her last winter when she contacted me and suggested she really wanted to walk 100 miles to raise money for Age Concern Exeter. She explained the Guiding was celebrating its centenary year and people had been challenged to make a difference to their community but to use the number 100 if they could. Margaret challenged herself to a half a mile a day walk, perhaps not a hazardous expedition that Baden-Powell might have sent his young people on in the North West frontier in India 100 years ago but a challenge no less for a nonagenarian with a walking aid on the pavements of Exeter. But determined she was and up until very recently set out for her daily constitutional. She clocked up 63 miles and had raised over £500. We are indebted to Margaret for her thoughtfulness, her sense of humour and her generosity. We are determined to complete the 100 miles in her honour and will be taking up the mantel in September to complete her challenge.

Our thoughts go out to her family and friends, a truly remarkable lady who leaves behind some fond memories and a sense of awe at her achievements.

Corinne Bailey

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Arctic Challenge - AGE Concern Exeter WLTM volunteers with GSOH, NTW please!

Last year, our very own Penny went to the Arctic with two student volunteers, and spent seven nights surviving in the wilderness, and, what's more, she's lived to tell the tale...

This year we're hoping to recreate this Swedish adventure, on a much larger scale! Age Concern Exeter is recruiting, yet again, for brave souls to venture into a place where you are tested to the limit, can experience somethinglike nothing else, and have a massive amount of fun. We're going in April 2011, and we cannot wait!!

The goal is to raise money for Age Concern Exeter; we want to get enough sponsorshi money to make a difference to those people that we're trying to help daily. This is a massive challenge for all of us who are going to do it. We're going to be getting down and dirty with everything from snowmobile safaris to Husky dog sledding, shelter building to ice fishing, and loads more greast stuff! It's a jam packed week, with a hot tub and sauna day to finish with! It looks to be a once in a lifetime thing, and definitely not something to miss.

You don't have to be super fit, you've just got to be prepared to give something new a go! It's all about having a great time and raising money at the same time. Give us as ring on 01392 202092 and ask to speak to Penny, Corinne or Jen if you want to find out more...

Jen goes skydiving :-D

Just over a month until jump day...6 weeks and two days until jump day...44 days until jump day...63,360 minutes until jump day...3,801,600 seconds until jump day...any way I look at it, it seems rather close! But, out of all of the above, time time in seconds is the most reassuring so far! I think I'm focussing far too much on how long there is before the actual jump; it's making me far more nervous than it should be!

Still going with the fundraising - am up to about £300 now, which is great! Have had a bit of a lull in getting sponsorship, need to do the final push to reach the minimum of £400! It's very much a case of grovelling for money from my a student myself, I know how hard-up we can think we are, which makes it much more difficult to get anything for sponsorship! If one particular friend reads this, thankyou for so kindly emptying out your purse into my sponsorship envelope; it is much appreciated!!

A weird mix of apprehension, dread and excitement has crept up on me - I still can't believe exactly what it is that I've signed up for! I'm sure all the others that we've got on the books for this are feeling the same way. It's going to be a fantastic day - I really hope the weather holds so that we can get a great view of the Devon countryside.

We're still recruiting people for the skydive - if you're interested, it's not too late! If you can't do the 21st of August, but still want to skydive for Age Concern Exeter, there is not another date - the 25th of September...any takers?! Let us know...01392 202092...I very much hope to jump out of a plane with you!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Cheese Tasting Evening

Last week, we held a Cheese Tasting Evening at the Bridge Inn in Topsham and what a lovely evening it was. 

It was a sellout event with 50 people eager to taste cheese from Topsham's own Country Cheeses.
The cheeses available were: Sheep's Tor; Sharpham Brie; Beenleigh Blue; Keen's cheddar; Rachel and Trelawny - all different and flavoursome in their own ways.

As well as the 6 tasters which came with crackers, there were scrumptious breadrolls to go with cheddar at the end of the evening if anyone was still peckish, and a blind taste competition where 3 other cheeses had to be identified.

Our good friend, Dave Pollard, produced a cheese related quiz and other puzzles to keep people pondering during the evening. He also did a rather splendid job of compering the evening.

Thank you to everyone who supported the event. We raised £304.15 and enjoyed an evening of lovely company in the process :-)

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Success at the Great Plant Sale

A huge thank you to everyone involved with last week's plant sale. We took a fantastic £611 in total, £155 of which was for the sale of tools by Men in Sheds!

Well done everyone

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Jen Goes Sky Diving

So – a little bit about me! My name’s Jen, I’m currently a Law student at Exeter University, and on August 21st 2010 I, along with hopefully about 50 others, am going to willingly jump out of a plane in order to raise money for Age Concern Exeter!

I have been asked to write a sort of personal blog about how I feel about doing the jump – ‘why did I sign up to this’ seems to be springing to mind! I am currently hassling people for sponsorship money, and have just this morning set up my very own justgiving page - It was surprisingly simple to set up, and it’s easy for people to donate online! If you’re looking to set up your own page, follow the link on how to use the justgiving website – I would thoroughly recommend it!
I first saw about it on the Age Concern Exeter Facebook page several months ago; I sent a few e-mails, made a couple of phone calls, and here I am, just a couple of months away from tandem skydiving from 15,000 feet up! I can’t say that I’ve done particularly many adventure sports, or that I’m the most active of people; I literally have no idea what to expect! Having looked around the website of the skydive centre that we’re doing it with (Skydive UK, near Honiton), the reviews of other people who have done skydives previously reassure me somewhat – they all seem to have really enjoyed it! If you want to see more about Skydive UK, follow this link to their website:
For some reason, absolute terror hasn’t quite struck me yet – the fact that I’m doing it hasn’t quite sunk in. When I tell people that I’m doing this, they say that I must be very brave – I’m sure that in their heads, they’re thinking that I must be very foolish! In spite of that, the three words that can sum up how I’m feeling about it at the moment? ‘I cannot wait!’

All donations are very welcome ;-) - I’m trying to raise a minimum of £500 – so far, I have raised about £250, so am halfway there…still a long way to go, though!

Friday, 28 May 2010

Walk the Walk

Age Concern Exeter is holding its eighth annual sponsored walk on Sunday, 6th June and the charity is keen for as many people as possible to get involved. 

The walk starts at Miller’s Crossing by the Mill on the Exe at 11.30am and has three distances – 2 miles, 6 miles or 12 miles to suit all levels of walker. The route takes in the Quay, Double Locks and then on to Turf Locks and runs alongside the beautiful Exeter Canal. All funds raised will go towards Age Concern Exeter’s work in the city providing a range of services that combat the loneliness and isolation faced by so many local older people. 

Martyn Rogers, Age Concern Exeter’s director said “The sponsored walk is a brilliant day out in beautiful countryside and because it follows the canal there are no hills! It has a couple of pubs along the way for refreshment and people can choose the distance they feel comfortable with. Last year we raised just over £3,000 and we’d love to beat that sum this year. The walk is the perfect way to get some fresh air and enjoy good company while at the same time helping to improve the quality of life of isolated older people in the city. Every £5 or £10 raised in sponsorship will make a real difference to our ability to improve the lives of so many older people in Exeter.”  

To find out more about the walk and to obtain joining details and a sponsor form contact Age Concern Exeter on 01392 202092. Alternatively, you can support the event by sending a donation to Age Concern Exeter, 138 Cowick Street, EX4 1HS.

For further information please contact:
Jane Moffatt or Martyn Rogers at Age Concern Exeter on 01392 202092

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Devon County Show

Loving Life with Age Concern Exeter.

Ball gowns and wellies are the dress of the day for the girls on the Age Concern Exeter stand at the Devon County Show! ‘We really wanted to do something different,’ commented Corinne Bailey, the marketing manager of Age Concern Exeter. ‘This is our first show and we are very excited about having the opportunity to tell everyone about the fantastic services we offer to people over 50s in the Exeter area.’
On their stand will be the information and advice team who can give details of all the many services that are available to the older community in the Exeter area including issues regarding overdue bills, long term care and benefit claims.

‘Last year we helped older people in Exeter claim over £500,000 in benefits’ said Martyn Rogers, Director of Age Concern Exeter, ‘in this current economic climate with heating bills and heavy fuel costs every penny counts towards maximising your income as much as possible.

‘Isolation, even in a city like ours, can also be a problem. Older people who are housebound and do not have immediate family at hand can go for days without seeing anyone, so our Voluntary Visiting and Enabling Services can relieve the situation, and those who rarely venture out of their homes can very soon have a full social life!’
Also available on the stand will be details of the exciting fund raising activities planned for 2010 by Age Concern Exeter’s promotions team, ‘anyone who wishes to take part even in a small way is very welcome and they will have the knowledge that the funds raised will go towards enabling us to continue delivering the services that are vital to the health and well being of older people in Exeter’ said Corinne.

You can find Age Concern Exeter’s stand at 195, Avenue B, where a human fruit machine will be entertaining the crowds on the hour, every hour. Sounds like an offer too mind-boggling to refuse!

For further details regarding Age Concern Exeter please ring 01392 202092, visit the web site: or pop into their offices at 138 Cowick Street.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Diary Entry for April

Margaret is well on her way to her 100, miles that is, not birthday….although she is so fit and active that there can be little doubt that important occasion will be celebrated in style in 10 years time… but anyways I digress…

Margaret has walked 40 miles now and money is still coming in, in support of her incredible achievements. She has raised £369 since January. That is so fantastic, we are firstly so grateful and secondly, so in awe.

Margaret is also moving house, which is no mean feat (pun intended!)…and does her daily walk, in between packing boxes and such like. When she has settled into her new house in Topsham in a month, if you would like to meet her and walk with her for an afternoon, she would love it. She has particularly asked me to ask people whether they would. Such an interesting woman, you would have a lovely afternoon – please get in touch with us and we can introduce, just as a one off would be fine.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Please Sponsor Margaret's 100 mile walk

Margaret Branch, 90 years young, is committed to walking 100 miles to raise money for Age Concern Exeter!

Not only will the ‘Half a mile a day’ walk keep her active and healthy, but she is hoping that she will get a lot of sponsorship.
Margaret got a Pedomoter for Christmas so there will be not cheating, she promises! So all Margaret needs now is your support!
Please contact us on 01392 202092 if you’d like to sponsor her.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Innovations in Dementia to launch inspirational films by people with dementia

On 12th April we will be launching four films made by people with dementia.

In 2009 we set out to make a series of films to illustrate the creativity and positivity with which people with dementia were living their lives

We worked with people with dementia living in the South-West who wanted to help spread the message that although a diagnosis of dementia may be life-changing, it is not life-ending

We have made four short films. Three of these were made by people living in Exeter (ACEx), and the fourth by the Forget-me-Not group in Swindon.

These are not just films about dementia, they are a testament to the energy and creativity of people living their lives with dementia.
We would be delighted if you would join us for the public launch, where we will be screening the films for the very first time.

Please feel free to invite anyone else you think might be interested in seeing the films. This will be a dementia-friendly event and everyone is welcome.

The launch will take place at the Picturehouse cinema in Exeter at 1.45pm on Monday the 12th April.
If you would like to come – please RSVP to, or telephone Steve Milton on 01392 420076.
If you can’t come to the launch, the films will be available to view, or to download at our website from 13th April 2010.
Help us help spread the message that a diagnosis of dementia may be life-changing, but it is not life-ending.
(ACEx) “There is a connection with Age Concern Exeter here, you may be interested in this showing, I think its great that it’s gonna be at the Picturehouse” – Corinne

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

We Survived the Arctic!

Despite the temperature reaching a very chilly minus 34 degrees, we’ve both returned safely from our Arctic Challenge week with all fingers and toes thankfully still intact. And what a week it for myself and Ruth in Northern Sweden!

Admittedly when we arrived at the cabin to temperatures of minus 30 and experienced the weird sensation of our nostril hairs freezing, we wondered what we had let ourselves in for! But with Penny being a reassuring presence, a team of three excellent training members, and our fellow eleven friendly Arctic Challengers, we soon settled down to the week ahead.

The first three days were designed to allow us to acclimatise to the amazing environment. This involved cross country skiing around the frozen lake and even trying our hands at the equivalent of water skiing but on snow, whereby we were pulled along by holding a rope tied to the back of a snowmobile. It provided a very good spectacle for the onlookers as both Ruth and myself fell down at very regular intervals! We also got the chance to be taken around the lake by a team of husky dogs and one of my favourite moments, spending a day up in the mountains on a snowmobile. It was brilliant fun to share almost 30 miles on one with Ruth, singing at the tops of our voices as the snow came down all around us!

However, it was not all relaxation because we still had the main part of the trip to complete-the survival phase! It was truly back to basics, for each day we had to light the fire, create the toilet facilities, eat only rations, get blinded by the fire smoke, and of course, construct a shelter for each night. They were a canvas tent, a fir tree shelter and finally the snow hole. It was in the snow hole that we had the hardest night. Not only was it tiring having to do a candle watch for an hour during the night, but also the dampness within the hole made it feel very cold. However, at 6am we were told to go back to the cabin to warm up for we had successfully completed the survival phase!

Looking back on the week, we have so many memories, of both the fun and hard times. We both said before the trip that if things got tough, we would just try to laugh and keep upbeat. Luckily everyone in the group got on so well that there was plenty of laughter and more importantly, plenty of support for each other. We feel lucky to have been given the opportunity by Penny and Age Concern Exeter to have had such an amazing experience. It definitely made all the various fundraising over the last year worth it and we are looking forward to handing over the total money we raised in the near future.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Arctic Challenge 2010

Are you tired of the Big Freeze gripping the nation? Do you look forward to the days when the temperature stays above freezing? For us, this spell of weather is mild compared to what awaits us between 5th and 12th March of this year!

Adventurous, brave or just plain stupid, our names are Pippa Field and Ruth Hopkins and we have chosen to undertake an Arctic survival week in Sweden to raise money for Age Concern Exeter. We are both second year students at the University of Exeter and came across Age Concern Exeter at a university volunteering fair last year. One of us is involved in the home visiting scheme, visiting a lady in Heavitree once a week to talk about everything and anything! The visits are very lively, sometimes even divulging into French for an hour or two!

After hearing Penny’s stories upon her return from last year’s Arctic survival week, we thought a similar trip this year would provide a unique experience and certainly something different from lectures and essays. The week involves learning how to survive in a harsh environment with sub-zero temperatures as low as minus 30. Without doubt, the week is going to test us to our limits. This recent cold weather has really highlighted how cold it is going to get and the dangers of the trip.
As unforgettable as the trip will be, the reason for which we have chosen to undertake it is very important; to be able to donate a large sum of money towards the Social Support projects of which voluntary visiting is a large part. From being a part of Age Concern Exeter for the last eighteen months, we have seen how important the work is for the community. From our perspective, volunteering for Age Concern in Exeter has provided us with way of emerging out of what can quickly become a student bubble, to see the work that takes place within the older sections of the community. For this reason, we are very happy to raise money and support such a worthy charity.

Fundraising events that we have organised so far include various bag packs, running the Great West Run, a classical music concert, quiz night and a guess the number of sweets in a jar competition. We are not finished yet though and have a series of further events planned between now and the trip to help us reach our all important targets.
Hopefully we’ll get an account of how they got on very soon. Well done girls!