‘This one’s for you mum’ says award-winning Gerardine

Ald. Gerardine Mulvenna with her Outstanding Contribution of the Year award and event host Sarah Travers.
Ald. Gerardine Mulvenna with her Outstanding Contribution of the Year award and event host Sarah Travers.

Mid and East Antrim councillor Ald. Gerardine Mulvenna has dedicated her prestigious dementia award to her late mother.

Gerardine scooped the award for her work with dementia at yesterday’s Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friendly Awards at Belfast’s Europa Hotel.

Ald. Gerardine Mulvenna was presented her Outstanding Contribution of the Year award by Danny Brown, the face of the Still Me campaign.

Ald. Gerardine Mulvenna was presented her Outstanding Contribution of the Year award by Danny Brown, the face of the Still Me campaign.

She won the “United against Dementia: Outstanding Contribution of the Year” title and was also shortlisted in the “Dementia Friendly Community Champion of the Year” category.

The award recognises those who are inspiring change to transform the lives of people with dementia by challenging misunderstandings, changing attitudes and taking action.

Ald. Mulvenna has been a dementia champion since 2017 and has been a driving force behind Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s ongoing work to enhance the quality of life for those living with dementia, and their carers.

Gerardine knows the challenges facing many families and has first-hand experience of how her mother, Rosie, who lived with dementia until she passed away in 2016, flourished when treated by dementia friendly trained staff.

Ald. Mulvenna said: “I just can’t believe this. I’m so delighted and humbled to be considered among such high standards of nominations. To even get shortlisted for two awards was amazing, never mind actually winning one. I really can’t believe it, it’s such an honour and I’m over the moon that all the hard work I’ve put it alongside council and our partners over the past few years is being recognised. It’s been an emotional afternoon and this one’s for you mum.

“Council has been working to create Dementia Friendly Communities (DFC) across the borough as part of its community plan ‘Putting People First’. We’ve campaigned relentlessly with local businesses in Larne and Carrickfergus to ensure Mid and East Antrim becomes a dementia-friendly borough and I’m really delighted to see that work paying off. Just last week, we has around 30 people at our Dementia Friendly Choir event and we hope that continues to grow.”

To date, over 270 people from more than 100 businesses and organisations have attended dementia-friendly training workshops.

Her work isn’t finished yet. With a new dementia friendly garden opening at Larne Promenade, council staff and business training workshops in the pipeline, Gerardine’s sights are now on rolling this ethos out to Carrickfergus and Ballymena and ensuring they succeed at becoming DFC towns as well.

Bernadine McCrory, Northern Ireland director for Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This year’s awards celebrate individuals, organisations and communities leading and inspiring a change that will transform the lives of people with dementia forever, challenging misunderstandings, changing attitudes and taking action.

“It is amazing that Ald. Gerardine Mulvenna has won the Outstanding Contribution award and it is a testament to her tremendous and tireless dementia-friendly work. We were all very moved that Gerardine dedicated this award to her mum, as it’s that personal connection to dementia that has inspired and driven her to make her community a more welcoming and inclusive place for everyone with dementia.

“The level of nominations received this year was truly phenomenal and there were some exceptional stories heard at the awards ceremony. There are now over 330 Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friendly Communities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland ensuring people with dementia are empowered to live a life they want.

“We want everyone affected by dementia to know that whoever you are, whatever you are going through, you can turn to Alzheimer’s Society for support, help and advice. All the finalists and winners at the Dementia Friendly Awards have demonstrated how we can unite against dementia and support those affected by the condition.”