Bedford charity receives Queen’s Award for its work in helping people with dementia

Pictured are Mark Kiteley Board member of Bedford College Service Ltd which generously allowed the charity event to be staged at the Grand Hall of what is now The Bedford Sixth Form in Bromham Road, with Helen Nellis, Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, and right Sarah Russell chief executive of the Tibbs Foundation.
Pictured are Mark Kiteley Board member of Bedford College Service Ltd which generously allowed the charity event to be staged at the Grand Hall of what is now The Bedford Sixth Form in Bromham Road, with Helen Nellis, Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, and right Sarah Russell chief executive of the Tibbs Foundation.

A small local Bedford charity has been recognised by the Queen for its fantastic work in helping people with dementia and memory loss, and supporting their families.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the equivalent of an MBE for volunteer groups, was presented to the charity by Helen Nellis, Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, on Monday.

The organisation has 70 volunteers and 11 staff who run 40 different groups, services and activities for people with dementia and their family carers including:

Music for Memory, gardening, swimming, bowls, and walking football, as well as providing a support network and access to information.

These take place in Bedford, Elstow, Flitwick, Oakley, Kempston and Potton.

Chief executive, Sarah Russell, said: “This award is a wonderful recognition of the hard work of our team and our volunteers who make a real difference to the lives of people in our community.

“Donations from people using our services brought in £37,000 last year and a further £52,000 came from fundraising efforts. We are also commissioned by Bedford Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council, as well as the Clinical Commissioning Group to provide services and we receive a grant from the Harpur Trust to support out Music 4 Memory Service.

“We are a tightly-run ship, we keep our overheads to a minimum to ensure all our income goes towards the front-line.

“We rely heavily on the goodwill of local people and the support of other local community groups which enables us to support so many with a diagnosis, those concerned with memory loss and family members affected.

The charity is launching a major fund-raising initiative in the autumn encouraging individuals and organisations to help cope with this ever-growing health issue. It is estimated that over 5,000 people in the county are living with dementia.

Tibbs Dementia Foundation takes its name from Margaret-Anne Tibbs, who is known both locally & nationally for her lifelong work in the field of the psycho-social care of people with dementia.

In 2013 Sarah Russell and Jeni Melia, lead Music Therapist, came together with Margaret-Anne to create the Tibbs Dementia Foundation - initially as a Community Interest Company (CIC) - to enable us to develop and grown the existing successful local music therapy service (Music 4 Memory).

Soon after the CIC was founded, Bedford Borough Council made some grant funding available to start other groups for people with dementia and their family carers - which enabled us to develop and expand services quickly.

Tibbs Dementia Foundation gained Charity status in 2016 and has now grown to provide over 40 regular services (plus numerous special events & activities), assisting over 300 people every month to have positive experiences and live well with dementia.

Sarah added: “We keep our overheads deliberately low and, as a local grass roots charity, are able to rapidly adapt and respond to the changing needs of our client base and to the opportunities that lie within the local community as a whole.”

The event took place at the Grand Hall of The Bedford Sixth Form (formerly Bedford High School).

More details at www.tibbsdementia.co.uk to learn more.