Campaign: ‘It’s David vs Goliath - but we can rise to the challenge’

The Admiral Nurse campaign launches at St Francis Hall. Ref shs 6123-20-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton

The Admiral Nurse campaign launches at St Francis Hall. Ref shs 6123-20-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton - Credit: Archant

A ‘phenomenally important appeal for Sidmouth’ – to help people living with dementia and their carers by bringing a crucial, specialist service to the valley – was launched this week.

Driving forces behind the £100,000 campaign for an Admiral Nurse say they face a David versus Goliath task – but believe the community will rise to the challenge.

The Sid Valley Memory Café and Sidmouth Herald have teamed up for the appeal – which would fund a nurse for two years.

It is hoped the six-figure sum can be raised by early next year.

If the appeal is successful, Sidmouth will be the first place in Devon to have an Admdiral Nurse.

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The campaign was officially launched at a packed St Francis Church Hall on Monday.

Sid Valley Memory Café’s chairman of trustees, Duncan Watt, told those present: “This is a phenomenally important appeal for Sidmouth.”

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He described the ‘invaluable addition’ of an Admiral Nurse as the ‘most important’ project in the memory café’s five-year history, adding: “It is a monumental milestone for Sidmouth that we are about to embark on.

!It is a David and Goliath situation – we can’t do this unless the town fully supports this campaign. It is a challenge, but one I am sure we can all rise to.”

Mr Watt said that the Sid Valley is at ‘the top of the tree’ when it comes to the percentage of people living with dementia.

The town also has the second highest proportion of elderly people in the country.

Memory café chairman Rachel Johnstone quoted Helen Keller by saying: “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

Trustee Adrian Ford told how the £100,000 will pay for the costs of an Admiral Nurse for two years – and then £50,000 would have to be raised every 12 months to keep the service going.

He added: “It is very much a long-term project. It is important that before we recruit a nurse we are confident that this is going to be sustainable.

“Every £85 that we raise we can make a huge difference to one family in the community for a whole month and I think there is a real need.”

An impressed Hilda Hayo, chief Admiral Nurse and CEO of Dementia UK, which is backing the campaign, said: “We haven’t got an Admiral Nurse in Devon. We are fully behind you.”

She explained that an Admiral Nurse has between five and 10 years of training and offers practical and emotional support for people living with dementia and their families.

“It is important to have dementia awareness and a dementia friendly community. If we haven’t got the support available, that is going to leave the families in difficulty,” she added.

The campaign got an immediate boost thanks to a cheque of £530 from the Waitrose Community Matters scheme.

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