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Home  >  News  >  200 Attend Presbytery Dementia Event


From left: Prof Mary Marshall, the Rev Tom Gordon, the Very Rev David Lunan, Andy Lowndes
From left: Prof Mary Marshall, the Rev Tom Gordon, the Very Rev David Lunan, Andy Lowndes

200 Attend Presbytery Dementia Event

Tuesday June 14


The Rev Maggie Roderick reports on a successful event on dementia organised by the Presbytery of Stirling


Nearly 200 people from 36 parishes in the Presbytery of Stirling attended the Church of the Holy Rude on June 1 to hear about 'The Challenge to Care: Dementia'.

The event, chaired by the Very Rev David Lunan, brought together three expert speakers.

Professor Mary Marshall, a social worker who has worked with people with dementia in numerous different roles, told us about Faith in Older People’s draft guide to help faith communities be more dementia friendly and aware.

Mary, who is on the board of Faith in Older People, explained that dementia is a term covering over 100 progressive diseases of the brain. 50-60% of those affected have Alzheimer’s disease. A further 20 % have vascular dementia and 20% have Lewy body disease. The most common thing to deal with is stigma and fear and we should talk about people with dementia, not dementia sufferers. Mary’s presentation was fascinating, providing a real insight into the various aspects of dementia, leaving her audience with the knowledge that there is so much more to learn.

Andy Lowndes, deputy chair of the charity Playlist for Life, encouraged each of us to think of our favourite piece of music and why it is important, then talked about the fact that most people have a playlist, reflecting their lives. He talked of the possibility of living a good life, even with dementia and later showed a moving video of how music helped a man living with dementia.

The Rev Tom Gordon, a retired parish minister and former chaplain at the Marie Curie Hospice in Edinburgh, reminded us that Pastoral Care is integral to the Church’s mission and purpose. He suggested that living with dementia is living with loss and that we are called to be faithful, not successful. He talked of the loss of interaction, the loss of being loved, the loss of the fullness of life, and much more besides. Tom encouraged us to walk alongside people, knowing that we cannot take away the pain and reminded us that dementia affects families too, therefore widening the circle of care.

David Lunan and the speakers each brought a different perspective to this important subject and after a time for questions, there is no doubt that everyone left feeling a little more knowledgeable. Many remained for over an hour after the final questions, chatting about what they’d heard and their experiences.

The conference arose from a suggestion from the Rev Stuart Fulton that the Presbytery should host an event, possibly with a well-known theologian. A group was set up by the presbytery’s business committee, and they suggested that people may be more likely to attend a presbytery event if they saw a relevance to their lives. They suggested dementia as a topic.

Presbytery agreed a budget of £1100 including all costs and a buffet; and each parish in the presbytery was invited to send five people. By the day of the event, 170 people had booked, and a further 20 turned up on the night. Several organisations, including Alzheimer’s Scotland and CrossReach, were either represented or sent leaflets.

This is unlikely to be the end of the matter for Stirling Presbytery as there have been offers to provide more detailed information. Involvement in this event has certainly opened my eyes and has inspired me to find out more about our challenge to care.

Dementia information from Faith in Older People

The Playlist for Life video is on

Tom Gordon’s books are available from

Alzheimer Scotland 24 hour dementia helpline Freephone 0808 808 3000



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