Meet Duncan Jones, who is on Alzheimer’s Society’s Board of Trustees.
Why dementia, why the Society?
My story is quite a familiar one. I first became involved with the Society when my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2009.
I didn’t know where to turn and Alzheimer’s Society provided me with support and answered some of the questions buzzing around in my head.
In 2012, I took voluntary redundancy after 27 years with the BBC to support Mum and to give me time to volunteer for the Society.
How to fill an unexpected day off?
I love running so the day would start with some exercise. I’m hoping my wife, Mary, has an unexpected day off too. If so, we’d arrange to meet friends for a long, convivial lunch, ideally outdoors.
There would also be time to listen to music, perhaps at a live concert, and to read.
Personally, I think it’s the new relationship I formed with my mum after she was diagnosed. We’d always been very close, but her dementia meant we needed to find new ways of connecting.
Professionally, it probably came during the first Gulf War. I was a sports producer and reporter for BBC News but was seconded to the general news reporting team to cover for colleagues in the Gulf.
I suddenly found myself – at half an hour’s notice – covering an IRA court case for the six o’clock news.
It was the first time my face had appeared on the screen and, apparently, I looked so nervous my family didn’t recognise me.
Worst advice you’ve been given?
While studying journalism, I was offered a job by the BBC in Kent. The person who’d interviewed me, and then offered it to me, turned around and told me I shouldn’t take it because if I left my journalism course early, I’d never have a career at the BBC.
I ignored the advice and am still working there, now as a freelance, 35 years later.
Biggest priority for coming months?
It has to be the delivery of Alzheimer’s Society’s new strategy. This is a watershed moment for the Society, coming out of the pandemic, and what we do and say now will shape what we can achieve for years to come.
Most important thing learned from a person with dementia?
It sounds obvious but everyone we speak to is an individual. See the person, not the dementia.
Soon after diagnosis, my mum seemed to forget all of our shared memories and I quickly learned to try to be with her, wherever she was in her mind.
Most looking forward to?
I am looking forward to spending time with friends in person, rather than via my laptop, and returning to live sport, music and theatre.
I’d say watching my football team trying to win promotion back to the Premier League, but I’m not sure how much I’m looking forward to that!
We need your help
We can’t keep our phone lines open or manage the increase in demand for our services without financial support. Please donate today – with your help, we can show people living with dementia that they aren’t alone.