Dedicated volunteer wins award for supporting people with dementia

December 2023 · min read

One of our incredible volunteers has been named Unpaid Carer of the Year at the Yorkshire and Humber Great British Care Awards (GBCA).

Anne Martin, 72, won the award for volunteering in weekly dementia cafes held around Rotherham.

She was presented with her trophy by actor and comedian Steve Ward at a gala dinner at The Armouries in Leeds. As a winner in the regional awards, Anne will now go forward to the national GBCA final.

Anne volunteers with our Rotherham Dementia Support Service, she said: “My mother had dementia and she passed away around the same time I retired,” said Anne. “I had lots of spare time and wanted to do some charity work. I saw an advert for befriending people with dementia, so that’s how I got involved.”

Anne was nominated for the award by Service Manager Amanda Tomlinson, who was also at the awards as a finalist in the Dementia Carer category.

“The dementia cafes couldn’t function without volunteers, and Anne devotes so much time and has so much experience she genuinely changes lives at every session,” Amanda said.

“She’ll do whatever she’s able to make life a little bit easier for someone else, and she does it all with a big smile on her face.”

Anne Unpaid Carer

The award judges praised Anne for her commitment, saying: “Anne is clearly very dedicated to her role. She goes above and beyond for those she supports without expecting anything in return. It’s people like Anne who make social care great.”

Anne said she was shocked to be nominated for the award and didn’t expect to win.

“I’m happy just to be in the background helping out at the cafes,” she said. “I went to the final with my husband and we were just there because we thought it would be a lovely night out. I really didn’t expect them to call my name – it was a big shock.”

However, after getting over the initial surprise, Anne is now keen to use her awards success to raise awareness of the dementia support on offer in Rotherham and encourage others to volunteer.

“You don’t need any particular skills or experience, you just need to get on with people,” she explained.

“We have activities like quizzes and puzzles, sometimes we just sit and talk. Everyone who comes for the first time says how friendly and welcoming the cafes are. It’s an outlet for people and a place they can come to spend time with others in the same situation.

“Once a month, we also have a respite group to give carers a bit of time off. People with dementia join us at the cafes for a few hours and we have lunch, entertainment and lots of other activities. Anyone who comes to the cafes can register to attend.”

Cath Magee, Regional Head of Operations said: “As the judges pointed out, Anne’s contribution as a volunteer helps to make social care great. We are very lucky to have such professional and caring volunteers and colleagues who strive to go above and beyond for all the people we support and help them to live happy, fulfilling and enriched lives.

“We would also like to congratulate Amanda for reaching the final, and the whole team behind our Rotherham dementia services who were also shortlisted in two categories. All the finalists thoroughly deserve this recognition.”

Anne will now go on to the national finals taking place at the ICC in Birmingham in March hoping to win the UK-wide award.

Well done team!

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