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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

Opening eyes in Rochester Cathedral

Ensuring a dementia-friendly welcome at Rochester Cathedral

Anna Chaplaincy is permeating the life of Rochester Cathedral. A dementia service there this month inspired steward Sheila Langley to write the following poem:

Another world

At the cathedral I volunteer gladly,

But today I carried out my duty sadly.

Those once bright and joyful minds

Seemed dulled, as if someone had

pulled down the blinds.

Then suddenly when worship started,

the prayers they learned so long ago

Repeated without hesitation

their faces now aglow.

It was as if we’d turned the key

and there before us all to see.

They sang the hymns we know and love,

words flowed as if from above.

The joy upon those faces, minds awoken

from their sleep. These memories I will keep.

They touched my heart, no longer sad,

everyone was just so glad.

And when the hymns and prayers were done,

we gathered round for cups of tea

and chatted as best we could, for some

more difficult than others.

It’s time to leave, until we meet again.

We are the dementia ‘band of brothers’.

Sheila's only previous encounter with dementia was a neighbour living with the disease. Clearly, she found the service and tea which followed a moving experience.

Shelia Langley, at an Anna Chaplaincy commissioning event this summer

Spearheading the first cathedral-based Anna Chaplaincy, Christine Bostock has been based at Rochester Cathedral as an Anna Chaplain for two and half years, helping the cathedral to offer a dementia-friendly welcome. Chris is a Licensed Lay Minister (LLM) and a Dementia Friends Champion.

Anna Chaplain Christine Bostock has a ministry at Rochester Cathedral

She is also a member of Medway Dementia Action Alliance, and on the steering group for Rochester and Strood Dementia-Friendly Community, encouraging businesses and community groups to become dementia-friendly.

Following Rochester's example

To find out how this way of offering spiritual support to older people and their carers might be developed where you live, whatever your denomination, do request a copy of the new Anna Chaplaincy in Rochester Diocese: A blueprint for other dioceses across the UK, and remember to send us your full name and address:



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