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Volunteers are celebrated at Sage House

VOLUNTEERS at a charity in Tangmere were celebrated when the High Sheriff of West Sussex visited.


On Monday, volunteers at Sage House dementia hub enjoyed a special lunch and a thank-you from Caroline Nicholls.


During her year as High Sheriff, Mrs Nicholls has been keen to champion those who support and encourage young people in the county to combat disadvantage and fulfil their potential — and to raise awareness of all those who work to protect the county’s communities and keep them safe.


During the lunch, Mrs Nicholls, spoke to Chloe Davies and Nafisa Dewan, on a work placement at Sage House for ten weeks as part of their degree. She then gave a speech in which she said: “I am absolutely delighted to be here. I think my first visit to here was probably about two years ago and I came to an empty shell. Now, you actually can see everything and it’s so bright and warm and welcoming.


“I was delighted to come back in May, when the Duchess of Wessex came to open the centre, which was really exciting as it was my first royal visit as the High Sheriff.


“This place does hold special thoughts because about three years ago my step mother and my father both suffered from dementia-related illnesses. Sadly, they have now both gone.


“But I just do so wish there had been somewhere like Sage House where I could have brought them early on and my sister could have come along and got advice with how to cope with something very strange and unusual to us.


“From a vision which began around five years ago to this today is absolutely superb. The work which you are all doing as volunteers is very, very special and I know that. Without people like you giving hours of your time, all the things we take for granted, just wouldn’t happen. You should be very proud.”


Dementia Support is a local charity working in partnership with voluntary and charitable organisations, the NHS, West Sussex County Council and other statutory organisations, to create a unique community hub for dementia.


The hub is designed to enhance the wellbeing and quality of life for local people living with dementia, their family and carers.


Chief executive Sally Tabbner congratulated volunteers for their hard work. She said: “Our chairman of trustees said we have 42 volunteers. What he doesn’t necessarily take into account are our board of trustees as well and there are a further 12 trustees.


“We couldn’t do what we do here if it wasn’t for our volunteers. Essentially, they are 50-odd people that we don’t have to recruit and pay for.


“From Sage House’s perspective, we are just really lucky.”


Michael Turner started volunteering by holding watercolour painting sessions at Sage House from day one. He said: “I really enjoy it. My mother had dementia for the last two years of her life and it was the early stages. Thank God she never forgot who I was, that would have been one of the worst things.


“Being here now for so long, I can see the changes in people, but what we do here, they do things with fun, it’s very light-hearted. I enjoy it immensely, I get such enjoyment from it.


“You are giving relief to the carers as well, which is so important.”

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