Background to "Dementia - A Practical Guide for Family Carers" by Brenda Walker
I first met Ben, as she liked to be called, in 2015. Milly's Foundation had invited her as a professional dementia trainer to come to Alderney to spearhead a programme of dementia awareness sessions. In 2015, 2016 and 2017 she made two visits each year. She initially stayed with Sally Mendham, who joined Ben in the training programme, and then at The Vines. We became good friends and in conversation one evening she told me about a book she had started to write when she had been diagnosed with cancer several years earlier. Ben had started the book because her prognosis at the time was very poor. However, she went into remission and the book was put to one side.
I asked Ben to let me see what she had written and she forwarded it to me. I read the text and found that it was inspiring, just as Ben's presentations to the public and professional staff on Alderney had been. I requested that she re-commence her writing in order to produce a written record of her inspirational knowledge and style. To encourage her to re-start the book I asked if I could purchase the distribution rights. This was agreed.
Ben got back to work on the manuscript and, in the fullness of time, it was finished and printed for Milly's Foundation sharing the proceeds with Ben's family. The book appeared just a few days before Ben died of a recurrence of cancer. We managed to get the book into her hands just before she left us on March 1, 2018 so that she knew her ideas and style would live on.
Her next planned visit to Alderney in April 2018 clearly never happened but I can say from personal experience, that her spirit and inspiration captured in the book lives on making a real contribution in helping those who look after family and friends with dementia.
By Colin Williams