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Our Founding Member John McErlane was recently selected for a major honour in recognition of his fantastic work for local people with dementia.

John, aged 64 from Toomebridge, was one of the first people to receive the Queen’s Baton when it arrived in Northern Ireland on Friday 24th June in the build up to the Commonwealth Games 2022.

The baton began its 294-day journey from Buckingham Palace last October and is currently being carried by bearers around all 72 countries in the Commonwealth, before finishing up in Birmingham when the Games begin on 28th July.

On behalf of Dementia NI members, John received the baton from none other than Lady Mary Peters, Patron of The Commonwealth Games. The presentation took place at the Belfast offices of our partner PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), who host our Empowerment Groups for the Belfast area.

We're so unbelievably proud of John and so pleased that he has been recognised for his tireless efforts to make Northern Ireland a better place for people living with a diagnosis of dementia.

Along with our four other Founding Members, John has gone above and beyond to ensure local people with dementia are not alone through our peer support service, which puts people diagnosed with dementia in touch with others in the same boat.

John said, “I am pleased and privileged to have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent people with a diagnosis of dementia across Northern Ireland. The ethos of our Founding Members is to enable people with dementia to have our voices heard. So to have the opportunity to speak on behalf of Dementia NI on this big platform is humbling and mind-blowing!

“With this opportunity I want to send a message to people that you can live a good quality of life and continue to achieve things with dementia, even if you have to make a few adaptations, and for people who aren’t familiar with the condition to not make hasty judgements about what we can and can’t do.

“I would also like to reach out to those who may be finding a dementia diagnosis difficult to accept and encourage them to come forward to Dementia NI for support. It may be useful for them to talk to someone in the same situation who can help them to make sense of the difficulties they are experiencing.”

Well done John! We're incredibly proud of you and all our Founding Members. Your dedication and commitment are one of a kind.

To find out more about becoming a Dementia NI member, click here.

Thanks to our partners PwC who hosted this event and to the Commonwealth Games team for providing us with this opportunity.

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