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A Splendid Trip on the River for Dementia Friendly Abingdon Group, 28 August

Posted 2 September

Members of a coffee-morning group set up by Dementia Friendly Abingdon, had a great river trip, organised by ourselves.  We set off from the Henley Rowing Museum in the boat  "Rivertime", at 11 am for a two-hour cruise. Our group was a mixture of people with dementia and their carers. One person was in a wheelchair. This presented no problems as the boat is equipped with a lift that allows seated wheelchair users to access the boat via a ramp, and to be lowered quietly down to the saloon.

group on boat

It was the most glorious late summer day, sunny and warm. We headed upstream for the first leg of our trip which was expected to be about an hour in that direction, followed by an hour's return.

However, as we approached Marsh Lock (the first) we learned that an incident had resulted in the temporary closure of the lock, and that we could go no further upstream.

Not to be deterred our crew turned the boat around and we sailed back through the middle of the town of Henley - a great experience on a very busy day. Riverside pubs and cafes were bursting with people. Beautiful and historic boats were tied up on the moorings. We felt very privileged as we glided coolly along in the comfort of our shaded saloon. We passed under Henley Bridge and on past the Rowing club stands. Once clear of the town, the scene became more rural, with a lot of birds including ducks swans, and red kites circling overhead. Refreshments were served!

We passed through Hambledon Lock which was quite busy. After a short distance downstream our crew (Derek and Tim) decided we should turn back upstream and head back towards Henley as there were signs the river traffic was higher than usual, probably because of the closure of Marsh Lock. This proved to be the case, and we had to wait quite a long time at Hambleton Lock as a result.

We arrived back at the Museum about twenty minutes later than planned, thanked Derek and Jim for looking after us so well and made our way to a very welcome afternoon tea at the Museum Café, before deciding to make our way back to Abingdon after a great day out.

The "Rivertime" is a 42 ft boat owned and operated by the Rivertime Boat Trust Charity, and staffed by volunteer crews. Details are on their website .

This trip, and an earlier one in May, took place with the help of a much appreciated grant from Christ's Hospital Charity of Abingdon, which covered the hire of the boat.

Dementia Action Week, 20 to 24 May 2019

The Dementia Friendly Abingdon Steering Group put on a great week of events to raise awareness of dementia and the work which the group is doing to make the town more dementia friendly.  The poster for the week shows to range of events.

Poster of week's events
Dementia Action Week Poster

Groups exhibiting in the Guildhall Roysse Room on Monday included Dementia Friendly Abingdon, Kennington Memory Club, Carers Oxfordhsire, Chawley Grove Care Home (Cumnor Hill), Fiddle Fingers Quilts, Alzheimer's Society and OM Interactive (interactive floor/table projection).  This event was reported on by the Oxford Mail and the Abingdon Blog.

Exhibitor team photo taken for the Oxford Mail Exhibitors in the Roysse Room
Exhibitor team photo taken for the Oxford Mail Exhibitors in the Roysse Room

On Tuesday, we held dementia awareness sessions at 35 Ock Street at which we signed up 13 Dementia Friends.  These sessions were led by Jeannie Pyle who is a Dementia Friends Champion and a member of the Dementia Friendly Abingdon steering group..

The Abbey Cinema showed the Wizard of Oz in a dementia friendly showing on Wednesday morning.  This may be the start of regular showings aimed at those with dementia and their carers.

On Thursday, the Library put on a play called Connie's Collander by the Human Story Theatre.  Sensitively, with humour and tenderness, this newly written play traces the evolving relationship of Connie and her daughter caused by  the impact of Connie’s Alzheimer’s.  The play was followed by a Q&A Session with Kate Czeczko of the Alzheimer's Society.

Wizard of Oz poster Gaye Poole and Amy Entickmap of Human Story Theatre
Wizard of Oz poster Gaye Poole (R) and Amy Entickmap As Connie and her daughter

On Friday, we took over the Market Place to hold "Singing for the Brain" sessions led by Kate Czeczko.  Kate runs these sessions twice a month at the Peachcroft Christian Centre; link.  We also had stalls on the market for people to talk to Dementia Oxfordshire, Alzheimer's Society, Carers Oxfordshire, Dementia Friendly Abingdon and Kennington Memory Club.

Singing for the brain session in the market place. Singing for the brain session
Singing for the brain session Singing for the brain session

During the week, Barry Reeves and his wife Enid were interviewed about their experience of living with dementia and their involvement in a study at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust to help researchers understand the experiences of people with dementia.  Barry is the carer for Enid and is also a Trustee of Healthy Abingdon and a valued member of the of the Dementia Friendly Abingdon Steering Group.  The interviews can be found here

Bariry and Enid
Barry and Enid Reeves

Music for the Mind and Body on 21 March 2019

Posted 25 March 2019

There is lots of evidence that music has many benefits for people's health and wellbeing. Listening to music is good and plying music or singing even better.  Combing music with movement brings in another dimension to the benefits.  We therefore held and event in order to hear about some of the many exciting musical activities going on in Abingdon.

The first presentation was from Jim Hines who is the Chair of the Abingdon Music Centre Trust who described the wide range of work they do to encourage the playing of music by people from small children to the very old.  This includes work in schools and outreach work with care homes.  More information on their work can be found here.

Presentation by Jim Hines

Ben Heaney, continued theme by talking about his wide experience as a musician and teacher.  He has invented an inovative scheme called the Black Spot System to enable people to participate in musical activities.  To fully illustrate this, he had us all following the system in order order to create music.

Ben Heaney illustrating a point with his violin Making music using Black Spot

Angela Conlon from Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust told us about the work on music and movement she is doing in various community hospitals including the Abingdon Hospital.  This really helps to keep patients active as well providing much-needed fun.  Angela illustrated what she does by having us all engage in music and movement activities.

Music and Movement

Kate Czeczko of the Alzheimer's Society told us about the new Singing for the Brain sessions in Abingdon.  She told how amazing it was to find that people with dementia who were not able to speak could find their voice when singing songs from their past.  You can find more on these sessions here.

Pat Bryden told us about sessions that she has set up on exercise to live music for people with Parkinson's disease.  Her late husband had Parkinson's and they found it annoying that no such sessions took place nearer to home so she has set our to change this.  Find out more here.

Hanne Fahl told us about an exciting new event that she is helping organise called Make Music Abingdon which will be on 21 June.  Email her for more information.

Trinity Learning were not able to attend the event but left leaflets to say that they are seeking volunteers to help with singing sessions for children with special needs.  Email them if interested.

Healthy Abingdon at the Clubs and Societies Day on 16 March 2019

Posted 20 March 2019

This regular showcase for community groups in Abingdon was held in the newly refurbished Guildhall complex in Abingdon.  Healthy Abingdon and Dementia Friendly Abingdon had two stands side by side.

Both stands together Dementia Friendly Abingdon Stand with two of the dementia-friends-scheme organisers, Susan and  Olga
Both stands together Dementia Friendly Abingdon Stand

We were kept busy all day with visitors to our stands and were able to spread the word about what we are doing to make Abingdon a better place.  We signed up many people who wanted presentations from us in order for them to be recognised by the Alzheimer's Society as Dementia Friends.

Some of the interesting visitors to our stand were the Town Mayor and the Town Crier.  We were also visited by creator of the Abingdon blog who covered his visit in one of his posts.

Town Crier with Healthy-Abingdon's Ollie in frint of our banner, Visitor to the Dementia-Friendly-Abingdon stand.
Town Crier with Healthy-Abingdon's Ollie Visitors

We asked visitors to our stand what they thought we should do to make the town healthier and invited them to write down their idea on flip-board sheet.  There was obviously a mixed bag of ideas with some being more practical than others but the main theme was to make it easier to cycle around the town.  We will be considering which of the ideas we should take further.

The comments on our flip chart

Healthy Abingdon Event on helping community groups, Thursday 6 December 2019

Posted 7 January 2019

Healthy Abingdon aims to bring community groups and statutory bodies together to improve health and wellbeing in the town.  to do this well, we need a thriving community sector.  This event was therefore to bring together the various organisations that can provide health and advice to community groups and small charities.

The meeting was very lively and was attended by 28 people - see pictures below.

The meeting was chaired by Ros Alstead OBE of Healthy Abingdon and involved the following presentations.

  • Dave Butterworth of Healthy Abingdon covered what drives community groups and why they need help from the organisations giving the following presentations.  View slides.

  • Roz Warren of Charity Mentors explained how they could provide experienced people to help mentor groups who needed to develop their operation and activities.

  • John Hayes of Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action (OCVA) outlined the range of services they provide to voluntary groups.

  • Hillary Lombard of Community First Oxfordshire explained some of the ways the charity workes with the community.  View slides.

  • Maurice McCartney talked about The Student Consultancy at Oxford University could provide teams of students to work on projects.  An example of a project on Abingdon can be found here.

  • Grant Hayward of ROBIN (Responsible Oxfordshire Business Involvement Network) described  how the network brings businesses and community groups together to pride help to the voluntary sector which does not involve transferring money.

Maurice McCartney making his presentation

In addition to these presentations, Pat Bryden announced that a new group called Parkinson's Exercise to Live Music had been set up in Abingdon.  Find out more.

Following the presentations, attendees had chance to talk directly with the presenters.

Individual discussions following the presentations

The next meeting will be in the new year and we hope to have something on music for therapy and wellbeing.


Healthy Abingdon Event on helping those with mental issues, 25 September 2018

Posted 16 October 2018

This was a lively event attended by 25 people including health professionals, people from the voluntary sector, members of the public, representatives of the health trusts and community police officers.  The meeting was chaired by Ros Alstead OBE, a director of Oxford Health.

Attendees listening to a presentation
Listening to one of the presentations

There were the following presentations which included slides which can be viewed by following the link.  There is also a link to a video for the last presentation.

  • Making Abingdon more dementia friendly. Olga Senior, Chair of Dementia Friendly Abingdon Steering Group.  Slides

  • Mental health services for older people and memory clinics. Philippa Cuttell, Team Manager, Dr Lola Martos Consultant Psychiatrist and Clare Hamblin Memory Clinic Lead.  Slides

  • TalkingSpace Plus. Amanda Robinson, Clinical Psychologist, TalkingSpace Plus.  Slides.

  • Safe Places. Jan Sunman, Oxfordshire Family Support Network, working on Safe Places and Elizabeth Smith, S&VDC Antisocial behaviour officer.  SlidesVideo.

The presentation was followed by discussion sessions and the points made by the three discussion groups are given below.

Group 1

The group noted that

  • Problems with contacting mental health teams out of hours (police find this a problem)

  • TalkingSpace Plus needs advertise their services more to the public.

  • TalkingSpace Plus should attend Thames Valley Police training days

  • Community transport an issue particularly for elderly and vulnerable people causing isolation.

Group 2

The group suggested that Healthy Abingdon (HA) could help with

  • Providing information about local support (some information on web site on Services and Associates page)

  • Providing dementia training in schools

  • Give help to people newly-diagnosed with dementia and those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI)

  • Give post natal support for both men as well as women

  • Give help to women with post natal depression

Group 3

The group noted that

  • It is important to publicise what is available

  • There are diverse nationalities in Abingdon

  • It is important to know who to refer people to if there is a problem/potential problem

  • We need to know our own neighbourhood better

  • Sometimes difficult to recognise vulnerable people, e.g. those with autism

  • More training needed about vulnerable people in shops and other places that deal with the public

  • Vital to involve the police in many issues

  • We need to involve the traditional charities more like WI and Rotary Clubs

Healthy Abingdon is reviewing these ideas and suggestions and deciding how best to deal with these.

Safe places presentation
Safe Places presentation

Launch of Safe Places

Posted 26 July 2018

South and Vale District Council, Abingdon Fire Service and Community Police were present on Thursday 26 July to launch the Safe Spaces Scheme for Abingdon.

If someone is lost, anxious, confused or feels they are being bullied, abused or harrased while out, they can go to designated Safe Places.

Safe Places offer support to elderly people, people with dementia, those who may have physical or learning disabilities, people with mental health needs or someone who feels unwell.

For more information, go to

News feature in Abingdon Herald

Posted 18 July 2018

"Dave Butterworth, founder of Healthy Abingdon, writes for Friends of Abingdon...

Civic pride is more than just about our history and buildings but it is also about the people of Abingdon today. In particular we should celebrate that we have more than 200 community and voluntary groups based in, or with major presence in, the town.

These groups cover a wide range of activities including sports, fitness, music, drama, history, nature, conservation, healthy eating, helping people with problems and much more. Their activities are aimed at children, the elderly, young people, those with chronic health problems or mental health and learning difficulties, and lonely people. You can find most of these groups listed on the town web site.

One common theme that unites these diverse groups is that they help to improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Abingdon.

Over the last year, another charitable group has been created called Healthy Abingdon whose aim is to bring these groups together to find ways of doing more by collaborating.

In addition, and very importantly, Healthy Abingdon brings together the community groups with the NHS and local government services so that by working together they should be able to achieve much more than working in isolation. Also we can see where the gaps are and find ways to fill them.

One thing that became clear from the start is that Abingdon is not doing as much as it should to make life easier for people with dementia. Indeed, some towns in Oxfordshire are doing much more than we are.

Healthy Abingdon has therefore brought a team of people together to develop ways to make the town more dementia friendly. The Alzheimer's Society is helping with this.

A main aim of the dementia initiative is to sign up as many people as possible as Dementia Friends. This includes those that work directly with the public such as café and shop staff, police and fire fighters.

Dementia Action week was on 21st to 27th of May and Healthy Abingdon used the Community Free Space in the shopping centre to raise awareness about dementia.

During the week various groups talked to the public about what they offer. These groups included The Alzheimer's Society, Dementia Oxfordshire, Soha Housing, Abingdon Court and Stowford House Care Homes, Daybreak, Oxfordshire Carers and Fiddle-Finger Quilts.

Another new initiative in Abingdon is to provide Safe Places for people who feel under threat or are just lost. This is mainly aimed at those with learning difficulties who, sadly, are sometimes the target of unprovoked abuse when out and about. This initiative is being led by the Oxfordshire Family Support Network in collaboration with South and Vale District Councils. A launch event is planned for Thursday 26th July.

So Abingdon is not just a pretty and historic town but one that takes pride in helping its people to experience happier, more-fulfilling and fun lives."

Dementia Action Week, 21 - 26 May

Posted 26 May 2018

Healthy Abingdon is working to make Abingdon more friendly towards those with dementia.  We took the opportunity of Dementia Action Week to launch this initiative by setting ourselves up in the Community Free Space in Abingdon shopping centre.

During the week, different groups were present on different days/times

Also, some time was set aside for carers of those with dementia to come for a chat and have a cuppa.  Both Stowford House and Abingdon Court Care Home brought some or their residents to join in the fun.

During the week, we talked to 68 passers-by about various aspects of dementia.

Scroll down to see some pictures of the week.

Abingdon Dementia Action Alliance

Dementia Action week is only the start for us.  We have set up a Dementia Friends Steering Group which will be developing a number of ways of making the town more dementia friendly.  This includes

  • Signing up Dementia Friends, including both members of the public and those who deal with the public like shop keepers, police and firefighters.

  • Encouraging shops and public events to be more friendly for those with dementia.

Contact us if you want to help.  If you are a Dementia Friends Champion, we need your help in signing up more Dementia Friends in the town. Email or phone 01235 525955.  Also, contact us if you want to register with the Alzheimer's Society as a Dementia Friend.  We can provide an awareness session for you.


Our new logo for making Abingdon dementia friendly Our Action Week poster was seen around the town.


Lisa Thompson

Display of quilts

Lisa Thompson from the Alzheimer's Society Fiddle Fingers Quilts


Team outside shop

     Team from Soha Housing

Stowford House encouraged people to talk to them by providing treats and entering names in a draw for the champagne


Team outside shop

Accordion player

Team from Abingdon Court with the Town Crier

Ian Giles entertained us with his playing


Our third event - hearing about community groups

Posted 26 April 2018

Individual discussions Dance to Health presentation

At our first event, it was suggested that we all need to hear what community groups provide to help with people's health and wellbeing.  So, for this event we had presentations from community groups as well as providing the opportunity for other groups to talk directly with people.  The four presentations were

  • Sheila Furlong of Archway Foundation on relieving the distress caused by loneliness.  Including information on the new young people project.  See the slide presentation.

  • Eleanor Dangerfield of Abingdon Green Gym on keeping fit by doing countryside conservation work.  See the slide presentation

  • Rachel Hammond of Stonehill Community Garden on bringing people closer to nature and to share the joys of being outside and gardening together.  See the slide presentation.

  • Hannah Godden of Dance to Health (Aesop) on getting fit and improve strength, balance and flexibility, making new friends and having fun.  See the YouTube video.

Other groups present were

  • Shedoxford

  • Thames Valley Police

  • ARCh

  • ABCD Film Society

  • Kingfisher Canoe Club

  • More in Common

  • TalkingSpace Plus

  • Community Dental Service

Our second event - working with the NHS

Posted 14 December 2017

This event was attended by members of the community and providers of a range of NHS services including dental, mental, physiotherapy, community hospital and occupational therapy.  the meeting was chaired by Ros Alstead of Oxford Health who also gave a presentation on the range of services NHS services available to the people of Abingdon.  You can see the slides here.

Ros Alstead chairing event

Most of the meeting was taken up by table discussions followed by feedback and plenary discussion.  A report on the discussion will be included in this news item soon.

Discussion group

Discussion groups

Developments from first event - we are listening

Posted 12 November 2017

As can be seen in the next news item below, there were very many suggestions made at our first Healthy Abingdon event.  We are keen to take on as many of these that fall within our remit and have so far

  • Set up a Facebook page with the help of Ashley Chapman of South and Vale District Councils.

  • Received a report giving statistics on health and wellbeing in Abingdon.  This is with thanks to John Courouble of Oxfordshire County Council.  This gives lots of useful information which will help us focus our ideas in future.

  • And we bring to your attention a report done in the past on the possible use of display units around the town to advertise events.

  • A suggestion was made that community groups wanted to have more opportunity to present themselves to the statutory bodies.  This is causing us to make rethink how we run our future events.

Where we cannot deal things ourselves, we will pass them on to organisations who can.

Our first event, working with local government

Posted 12 October 2017

Our first event at Peachcroft in the early evening was well attended and extremely lively.  The purpose of the meeting was to get community groups and others in Abingdon to talk to to representative of the Oxfordshire County Council, The Vale of White Horse District Council and the Town Council About what we we need from them to make Abingdon a healthier town.

Over thirty people attended the meeting and these included representatives from local government, the NHS and community groups.  There were also members of the public present who represented themselves very effectively.

Ashley Chapman's presentation
Ashley Chapman's presentation

The full programme of the event can be found here.

We had three main presentations from the County, District and Town Councils.  The slide presentations from the County and District Councils can be viewed using the links below:

The third presentation was on what is provided by Abingdon Town Council and a note on this can be downloaded here.

The presentations generated much lively discussion and some of the main points raised were

  • A suggestion was made that we should look at what other towns have done similar to what we are trying in order to learn from them. We agreed that we need to continue to do this but had already looked at a number of other initiatives but had not found anything so far that was relevant to our situation. 

  • It was suggested that we need to get more information on the particular needs in Abingdon in order to help prioritise our initiatives. This included finding detailed data specifically for Abingdon (rather than the Vale of White Horse) and even for particular Wards in the town

  • It was suggested that a comprehensive list of local community groups was needed rather than just the list of Healthy Abingdon Associates.  However, Healthy Abingdon decided not to do this as four such excellent lists already existed and links to these are on the Service page of the web site.

  • It was suggested that community groups and charities should turn the tables on the statutory groups at some future meeting. By this, it was meant that community groups should be the presenters and statutory groups in the audience.

  • More thought needs to be given to ways of publicising events in the town. It was suggested that a hardcopy list of services and community groups would be of value for those who did not use computers. It was noted that it would be difficult and costly to keep this up to date and that, in any case, there were assistants in the Library who could help people use the computer.

  • Again, on publicity, it was suggested that we have a Facebook page.  Whilst this point was accepted we don't currently have someone who is able to do this well.

  • Gardening was suggested as a healthy activity. It was noted that there were already groups like Stonehill Community Gardens and Incredible Edible Abingdon in, or on the boundary, of the town.

  • It was suggested that there are many benefits to be gained by the elderly working with children.

  • Related to the last point, there were many young families in the town who had moved from other places and had no family close by.  Elderly neighbours could be very helpful in times of emergency and as someone with experience to talk to.

  • There was a need for more outdoor seating in the town to make it possible for the elderly or infirm to get out more because they could be sure of places to rest when tired. Seating at bus stops would also help these people because buses often ran late.

  • Singing was recognised as very therapeutic and there were a number of such groups.  However, there was a need for more groups that encouraged men.

  • People were urged to get more involved with the work of the NHS Foundation Trusts through their Members, Governors and Peer Review schemes.

  • There was an urgent need for a large, indoor community space near the centre of the town

  • Community groups run by busy volunteers found it hard to know of and keep track of what grants were available and what the deadlines were.  It was suggested that OCVA could help as could Grant Hayward.

If you were at the event and think some other important point was made. please let us know and we can add it to the list.






Our birth!

Posted 4 August 2017

The concept arose from a series of discussions starting in March 2016 between Ros Alstead and Dave Butterworth which were facilitated by a project called Leading Together aimed at bringing health professionals and lay people together to take initiatives to improve health.  Ros is a Director of Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust which runs the Abingdon Community Hospital and teams in the town concerned with mental  and physical health and wellbeing.  At the time Dave was the OCVA Community Ambassador for Abingdon and was therefore working with voluntary and community Groups in the town.  From our complementary knowledge of the NHS and community groups, we wanted to find ways that the NHS and these groups could work better together improve health and wellbeing in the town.

Ros Alstead

Dave Butterworth

We held a meeting of of interested parties at the end of June 2016 to sound out peoples' views and consider what sort of activities we might engage in.  Following this meeting, a launch event was held in September.  At this stage, the idea was that Healthy Abingdon should be a joint activity between Oxford Health and OCVA with OCVA managing the project.  However, this did not fit in well with OCVA's objects and their contract with Oxfordshire County Council.  We therefore found it necessary to set up as an independent charity which, unfortunately, took some time.

June discussion meeting

Stuart Bell, Oxford Health Chief Executive speaking at our September launch event

We eventually became a registered charity at the end of March 2017 (charity number 1172245).  Monica Lovatt joined Ros and Dave as the the founding trustees.  Monica is an Abingdon Town Councillor (ex Mayor) and the vice chair of the Vale of White Horse District Council.  As an ex nurse, she has a strong interest in health and sits on a number of key Oxfordshire health committees.

Monica Lovatt

We have until now been working on all the practical details of setting up charity such as opening a bank account, launching a web site and getting our key policies and procedure in place.  We have also been signing up charitable groups as Associates to work with us on helping to make the people of Abingdon as healthy as possible.  We are planning to have our first meeting of Associates on September 2017.



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