Special tree planted by Dementia Support Group

Cookstown Council chairman Sean Clarke joined members of the Dementia Support Group at the ceremony
Cookstown Council chairman Sean Clarke joined members of the Dementia Support Group at the ceremony
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MEMBERS of the Mid Ulster Dementia Support Group remembered past and present loved ones at a special ceremony earlier this month at Ballyronan Marina.

The group, formed almost seven years ago, planted a Tree of Remembrance to signify the establishment of the group and the great work it has done since 2005.

Dementia Support Group Chair Ann Cardwell speaks at the recent tree-planting ceremony at Ballyronan Marina

Dementia Support Group Chair Ann Cardwell speaks at the recent tree-planting ceremony at Ballyronan Marina

Group chair Ann Cardwell joined fellow members - all of whom have been through or are currently coping with the devastating effects of having a loved one diagnosed with dementia - on April 4 for the ceremony.

The group aims to provide support for carers whether it be emotionally through a shoulder to lean on or practically with small ‘sitting service’ grants where someone can be provided with a short break from caring now and again.

Currently the support group has a best-buddy scheme where carers who can’t attend on a regular basis can keep in touch by phone or text with the occasional meeting. Ann, who lost her mum to Dementia, explained that for some people this can be an easier way to keep in touch with the group and still avail of the support network that is there.

Speaking to those in attendance, including Cookstown council chairman Sean Clarke, Phil Hughes who is Head of Mental Health Services for Older People, Jacqueline Williamson Head of Fund Raising and Development at First Housing Aid and Support Services and Annie-Rose Neill who is the youngest carer with the group, Ann told of her gratitude to all those involved over the years.

“The Mid Ulster Dementia Support Group are eternally grateful to Mrs Phil Hughes who had the vision to create a support group for carers within the Mid Ulster area,” said Ann.

“With the planting of our tree, the roots symbolize the founding of the group back in 2005, these roots are now firmly planted in the community. The branches of the tree are the Dementia journey which patients and their carers are now travelling and the buds of the tree are the beginnings of new carers meeting with the support group. We trust that this cherry blossom tree will flourish and offer a source of continuous support and encouragement to carers in years to come, in the tranquil and beautiful surroundings at the Ballyronan Marina.”

Anne Cummings, Carers’ Co-ordinator for the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, said support groups like this local one are invaluable to those affected by dementia.

“It’s really important that local groups support family carers. Sometimes caring for a loved one can be stressful and a support group can help ease that stress.

“The Northern Trust works closely with many carers groups and also provides other services aimed at enabling carers to sustain their caring role. I am delighted that the Mid Ulster Dementia Support Group organised this event as it really helped to raise the profile of support groups and will encourage many family carers to access support that can help them.”

The group added their thanks to Daniel at McAtamney’s Butchers in Cookstown for providing refreshments, and Andrew Donnelly from Garden Pride Nursery in Moy for providing the tree.

Ann said, “Once again The Mid Ulster Dementia Support Group would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who joined with them on the day to make this a most memorable occasion.”

Anne Cummings can be contacted on 028 2766 1392 or at anne cummings@northerntrust.hscni.net should anyone want any fruther information.