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  • Debbie Ducille

Enriching Dementia Awareness Day at Rochester Cathedral

Anna Chaplain Chris Bostock and Canon Gordon Giles

Canon Gordon Giles and Anna Chaplain Chris Bostock organised a stimulating and helpful Dementia Awareness Day at Rochester Cathedral on 15 April which was attended by around 250 visitors. Canon Gordon is a BRF Ministries author and editor of New Daylight Bible reading notes. Chris was one of the very first Anna Chaplains in Rochester Diocese and the first Anna Chaplain in a cathedral setting.

A highlight of the day was the launch of a beautiful new song about dementia with words by Canon Gordon, and music by composer Thomas Hewitt-Jones, featuring singer Freddie Benedict. It is now available on Spotify and iTunes and here are the lyrics:

If one day

If one day I forget your name,

hold my hand and spare my shame.

Stay beside me in my forgotten years

Our love remains through silent tears:

Our hearts connect still

We’ll live and love, we know we will.

All the time we’re given comes to this

Sorrows spent and hours of bliss,

All are blended in a moment’s blur

Yet love remains through what we were:

Our minds apart now,

We’ll live and love, we know not how.

For all we have been - we give thanks,

For all that is to come we say yes.

Till the end comes we pray and care:

love will hold and help us bear

The onward journey which we share

Forget me not, I’ll be there,

So when we laugh and cry,

I’ll love you till the day I die.

©Vivum Music 2024

Julia Burton-Jones spoke in her capacity as Anna Chaplaincy lead for Rochester Diocese. (She is also training and development lead for Anna Chaplaincy at BRF Ministries.) Rochester Diocese Anna Chaplains and Anna Friends took part and several helped with the Anna Chaplaincy display table in the marketplace.

Dr Jitka Vseteckova speaking on The Five Pillars for Ageing Well

The keynote speaker was Dr Jitka Vseteckova, from the School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care at the Open University, speaking about ‘The Five Pillars for Ageing Well’. Participants were offered a tour of the cathedral precinct gardens where a sensory garden is being developed.

The director of music at the cathedral, Adrian Bawtree, led a community singalong. Adrian is working with the Royal College of Church Music to encourage churches to host community singing for older people and those living with dementia. He is contributing to a panel discussion at the Church Times Festival of Faith and Music in York from 26 to 28 April on the subject ‘Not forgotten: Music and Dementia’. He and Julia contributed to a recent Church Times article on the topic of singing and dementia on 28 March.

The day finished with the cathedral’s regular CAMEO (Come and Meet Each Other) service, which is a dementia inclusive act of worship held in the Lady Chapel and led by Anna Chaplain Chris.

Among the organisations represented in the marketplace were Medway Council, Medway Adult Education, Age UK Kent Rivers and the local NHS teams, including Admiral Nurses who cover Medway. Creative arts charity Brightshadow provided a quiet space in the Ithamar Chapel in the Cathedral Crypt.

There was a display representing Rochester Parish (where Christine Seth-Smith and John Portman are Anna Chaplain and Anna Friend) with information about the many groups and activities in which the parish is involved: Dementia Memory Café; Singing for the Memory Medway; Rochester Carers Group; Medway Dementia Friendly Gardening Group; Medway Dementia Peer Support Group; Rochester Cluster Dementia Inclusive Worship.

A video on dementia-friendly church, created for North Staffordshire University, was filmed in Rochester Parish in 2019, with John Portman and Julia Burton-Jones speaking.

Speakers Canon Gordon Giles, Julia Burton-Jones, Dr Jitka Vsetechova and composer Thomas Hewitt-Jones.



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