Meet Caroline Fawcett, who is on Alzheimer’s Society’s Board of Trustees.
Why dementia, why the Society?
My first non-executive director role was with my local mental health NHS trust. One of the best aspects of the job was visiting our many facilities.
The manager of one proudly showed me their 1950s and 1960s themed décor, prompted by advice from an Alzheimer’s Society employee who used a small office there.
That was a year or so before my mum, a very independent and sociable woman, started demonstrating worrying signs of confusion and memory loss.
Armed with incredibly helpful stories and suggestions from the Society’s website, I took my mum to see her GP. Getting a firm diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia meant we were able to make plans.
How to fill an unexpected day off?
Like many people, I started walking more during the pandemic. So now when I do have the time, my husband and I set off for a walk a little further away from home.
Our very favourite place is Chanctonbury Ring on the South Downs. We climb up to the top to walk around the ring of trees which sits on the site of a prehistoric hill fort.
There are magnificent views north to where we live and south to the sea. You can see from Brighton to the Isle of Wight!
I’m going to cheat and have two – when I saw my son and daughter graduate with their master’s degrees, from Oxford and Exeter Universities respectively. I’ve got a lump in my throat just remembering both ceremonies now!
Worst advice you’ve been given?
When I left university, I wanted to go into marketing and my dad suggested I seek our neighbour’s advice. He advised me to get a job in telemarketing as it was the most difficult sales job you could do.
I got a job selling classified advertising for the local paper in Bristol. I absolutely hated it!
I handed my notice in when I realised I had persuaded an elderly lady to spend more on advertising than the cost of the item she wanted to sell. I suggested she just spend the minimum and got roundly told off by the supervisor.
Biggest priority for coming months?
I am proud to chair an important Board of Trustees sub-committee – the Policy, Research and Communications Committee.
I will be supporting and challenging directors to implement elements of our exciting new five-year strategy, Help and hope, that deal with research, influencing, marketing and communications.
Most important thing learned from a person with dementia?
That we should always see the person first, not the condition.
It is too easy to label people, and to lump everyone into a generic category.
They are individuals living with dementia, not simply a representative of an ever-increasing group of people in the UK and across the globe.
Most looking forward to?
Definitely overseeing the new strategy with my fellow trustees, and hopefully doing so while meeting face to face after a long time!