Express your elf: Beyond expectations for Elf Day

From the October/November 2018 issue of Dementia together magazine, a Dementia Friend in Lancashire is embracing Elf Day to raise vital funds.

Ann Duckworth and her granddaughter Grace

Ann Duckworth selling elf hat biscuits, and her granddaughter Grace helping to make them

On and around this year’s Elf Day, on 7 December 2018, Society supporters across the nation will unleash their inner elves at work, school and home to raise money and awareness.

Many will dress up on the day itself but, as Ann Duckworth proved last year, elf-themed fundraising can take any form at any time.

Fierce passion

Ann, from Oswaldtwistle in Lancashire, was born and raised on the family farm. Her mum Kathleen worked there until well into her 70s before retiring.

Ann first noticed changes in her mum’s mood and behaviour back in 2015, and the following year Kathleen was diagnosed with vascular dementia.

The changes in Kathleen’s behaviour in the evenings – often called ‘sundowning’ – were particularly challenging.

‘We tried to look after her as a family and took it in turns to stay with her at night, but her sundowners exhausted us all and we realised that we needed professional help,’ says Ann.

‘It was frustrating to see our matriarch, who watched over us with fierce passion, struggle to remember who we were or even her own name,’ says Ann.

Kathleen moved into a care home in 2017, which Ann and the family found heart-breaking.

‘It was frustrating to see our matriarch, who watched over us with fierce passion, struggle to remember who we were or even her own name,’ says Ann.

Kathleen died in January at the age of 87.

Beyond expectations

Ann had already taken part in Cupcake Day at work and become a Dementia Friend, but spending time in Kathleen’s care home around so many people with dementia spurred her on to sign up for Elf Day.

Elf Day on 7 December 2018

Get ready to unleash your inner elf.

Get ready

'Armed with a car full of ingredients, I set off to my daughter’s in Scotland and, with the help of my eight- year old granddaughter Grace, made and decorated over 100 elf hat biscuits,’ she says.

Ann took the biscuits to the dental practice where she worked, dressing as an elf not just for Elf Day but the entire working week. Her colleagues wore elf hats and ears to join in the fun.

To her astonishment, the biscuits sold out within the first few hours and she had raised over £470 by the end of the week – well beyond her expectations.

Brilliant work

‘Involving colleagues and patients helped to raise awareness of the brilliant work Alzheimer’s Society does,’ says Ann.

‘People were happy to help in any small way, as this dreadful condition affects more families than we realise.

‘They also shared their own stories about the difficult journey that is dementia.’ Ann encourages others to join her in taking part in this year’s Elf Day.

‘It’s a fun way to raise money and awareness,’ she says. ‘Every little helps and can go a long way to finding a cure for this cruel, devastating condition.’

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