Uplifting news brought campaigner comfort on his death bed.

Mark Williams

Mark Williams - Credit: Archant

Tireless Mark fought to improve the support available to dementia sufferers - and was ‘thrilled’ to learn of progress.

A TIRELESS campaigner, who found out he had just weeks to live, was ‘thrilled’ to learn on his deathbed that some of his hard work was to come to fruition.

Tributes have poured in for Mark Williams, 64, who was at the forefront of a bid to improve older people’s mental heath provisions in the Sid Valley.

Mark went to hospital with suspected pneumonia, but was diagnosed with inoperable, late-stage lung cancer shortly after and died just three weeks later, on Wednesday, April 24.

The Knowle Drive resident was this week described as a ‘tremendous person’ whose passionate fight to improve the support available to those with dementia in the Sid Valley was ‘unstinting’ and widely appreciated.

Mark told a close friend that ‘everything is in place’ for progress to be made for the people he strived to help - just three days before he died.

He had previously received good news in hospital from Richard Anderson, NHS Devon’s health and social care cluster manager for Seaton, Axminster and Sidmouth.

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Richard, who is also a member of the Sidmouth Older People’s Mental Health Implementation Group that Mark chaired, said: “I told him we’re working on plans developing services for people with dementia in the Sid Valley.

“Mark was thrilled. He put so much work into this. He was a man of great vision, had a real heart for service and really did touch everyone he met. To be able to tell him some of the work he had been doing is coming to fruition, particularly at the time, was very touching.”

Richard added that the developments involved establishing a ‘memory clinic’ group for people with dementia.

Derek Eagles, who launched the Sid Valley Memory Café three years ago with help from Mark in his capacity as a dedicated member of the Rotary Club of Sid Valley, said: “Since then, many people affected by dementia and mental health issues have been touched by the unstinting support Mark has fought for in local, regional and national health services.

“His last words to me were ‘don’t worry Derek, everything is in place to get the best support available for these people’. He was on his deathbed. He did it all for the benefit of the people in this valley. ”

Family of Mark described him as ‘an incredibly kind and loving husband, father and grandfather, who delighted in being the centre of our family’.

The Williams family told the Herald: “He was generous and passionate in his involvement with the many charitable works he undertook. He will be missed immensely by us all.”

Mark was chairman of the Sidmouth Older People’s Mental Health Working Group, set up by the town council in 2011 following the closure of respite services at Stowford Lodge, and his extensive work was lauded far and wide, writes Stefan Gordon.

Under Mark’s leadership, the initiative produced a detailed report with 14 recommendations and subsequently became an implementation group.

Ian Skinner, who was a colleague of Mark’s on the project, said: “He was a tremendous person and worked tirelessly for the group.

“He chaired it with great enthusiasm, expertise and dedication.”

Ian said the group would work to achieve the many objectives set out in Mark’s memory.

“It is a real tragedy this has happened to him in such a short space of time,” he added. “He will be a very sad loss to our group and the community as a whole.”

Town council chairman, Stuart Hughes, added: “He will be remembered for the sterling work he has done.”

Mark was also working on making the Sid Valley part of the Dementia Action Alliance – and had gained widespread support from the town – before his death.

John Summerside, chairman of Sid Valley Memory Café of which Mark was a committee member, said: “We are just so thankful for the time and effort he gave to dementia sufferers in Sidmouth. He got involved in so many things.”

Mark was a dedicated member of the Rotary Club of Sid Valley and president Alec Dunn said: “We lost a great friend, a great club member and a great Rotarian.”

He praised former president Mark’s ‘tremendous contribution’ and his championing of youth and international activity.

Mark’s funeral will took place at All Saints Church on Tuesday, May 7.

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