A heart-warming desire to help others at just 11 years old has won a schoolboy a national award.
Charlie Phillips has already started to take direct action locally, to support people living with dementia including his Nan Judy.
His efforts have been recognised by Alzheimer’s Society in this year’s Dementia Friendly Awards, winning the Uniting Against Dementia – Outstanding Contribution category.
Charlie said: “I was so surprised I wasn’t sure I’d heard it right at first. It’s nice to be recognised for what I’ve done.”
His Nan was diagnosed with dementia three years ago. Since then Charlie has seen how the condition has slowly taken her memories and made everyday tasks challenging.
Despite this he regularly visits her, trying to understand her needs and occupying her mind by playing his guitar or solving simple puzzles.
Visiting his Nan inspired Charlie to help others in similar situations. He decided to fundraise for Alzheimer’s Society, starting with a sponsored 5km run at his school summer fair and a bake sale on his street.
He’s already raised over £300 in the last few months and has a list of ideas to increase this.
However, the drive to help doesn’t stop there. Charlie’s raised awareness of dementia among his school peers, giving talks in assembly and sharing his Nan’s experiences. He’s also visited a local care home which provides specialist dementia care, taking his guitar to play to residents, as he knows the joy his Nan gets from this.
Charlie said: “My Nan’s dementia has inspired me to help other people in similar situations. I’ll carry on. I’ve lots of ideas including a music festival at school to raise money. I’m going to be busy.”
Charlie’s mum, Sally, says her son’s thoughtfulness in wanting to help others at such a young age is admirable.
She added: “I feel so incredibly proud of Charlie because he’s wanted to do this himself.
“It’s not something I’ve pushed him towards but raising money and awareness will help people. I’ve had parents at the school say that their children went home and talked about what Charlie had said.
“I don’t think many children of his age would be so spurred on by a negative to do something so positive. Rather than been downhearted by the condition, he’s thinking what can we do?”
Charlie was celebrating success at a prestigious awards ceremony that took place in London on Thursday, hosted by Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador Angela Rippon.
There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK – a number set to rise to 1 million by 2021. Someone develops the condition every three minutes – but too many are facing it alone without adequate support.
The Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friendly Awards aim to address this issue by recognising, celebrating and promoting the inspirational achievements of those uniting to make a real difference to people living with dementia by ensuring they feel included and involved in their community.
Alzheimer’s Society Chief Executive Jeremy Hughes paid tribute to Charlie. He said:
“This year’s Awards celebrate individuals, organisations and communities which form part of a dementia movement that will transform the lives of people with dementia forever – by challenging misunderstandings, changing attitudes and inspiring action.
“There are already more than 2.7 million Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends and over 400 Dementia Friendly Communities changing the way people think, talk and act about dementia so people affected feel included in their community.”
Caroline Dinenage, Minister for Care, who attended the ceremony, said: “All the finalists in this year’s Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friendly Awards are doing their bit to improve the lives of people with dementia – from whole communities to inspiring young people and others who truly embody the principles of a Dementia Champion.
“I was hugely impressed by everyone’s creativity and resolve in ensuring people with dementia are not left behind and remain valued members of our communities. They set an inspiring example for us all and remind me we cannot meet this Government’s ambition to make this the best country in the world to live with dementia without people like them.”
- Winners celebrating alongside the Warriors were: Handmade for Dementia (Trailblazer); Wolverhampton Dementia Action Alliance (Dementia Friendly Community – City or county); Blaby District Dementia Action Alliance (Dementia Friendly Community – Rural area, Village or Town); Oasis Academy, Isle of Sheppey (Youth Organisation); Daisy Coles (Inspiring Young Person); Sarah Williams-Martin (Dementia Friends Champion); Touchstone BME Dementia Service (Championing Diversity Award); Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust (Dementia Friendly Organisation – Large); Charlie Phillips (Outstanding Contribution).
More details of the can be found at alzheimers.org.uk/dementiafriendlyawards.