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The Centre for Dementia Blog Competition 2020

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communication, creative writing

The Centre for Dementia is based at the Institute of Mental Health on the University’s Jubilee Campus, and it is one of several mental health research groups based there. The Centre focuses on interdisciplinary research, mainly in psychosocial aspects of dementia, though the group includes colleagues who undertake biological research too. We are proud of the broad range of collaborations that we have both within the University of Nottingham but also externally.

The Centre does not employ staff, who usually have their contracts with the University or the NHS, so it does not carry a large budget. However, it does administer a small annual allowance from the Institute of Mental Health which, in previous years we have used to support such things as patient and public involvement events. Towards the end of the last financial year, we realised that we hadn’t been able to spend our allocation as we might have intended and time was fast running out. If the money wasn’t spent by the end of March, we would simply lose it.

The bright idea that occurred to me was to buy a pile of books and to use them as prizes in a competition. At the same time, we wanted to promote the profile of the Dementia Day to Day website, and to encourage contributions from new authors. Hence, the Grand Blog Competition. At first, we planned to limit the entry to people with connections with the Centre for Dementia, but we soon scrapped that idea, and threw it wide open. We were also able to publicise the contest to cohorts of medical students as one of the online resources for the hastily-developed online (Moodle) module for Health Care of Later Life.

I recruited two additional judges, Dr Kevin Harvey from the School of English (and of course, the editor of Dementia Day to Day), and our erstwhile PhD student Dr Anni Bailey, who is currently working with Independent Age. The rules were circulated as widely as we could manage and a deadline of end of July was set.

Altogether we received about 20 entries. Most were straight prose, though three were poems and one included a photo of a mighty sunflower. We were pleased with the number of medical students who entered, and we had one entry from a person with a diagnosis of dementia. I am sure that competition judges always say this, but we really were impressed by the high standard of the entries. The judges conferred in the second half of August, holidays having imposed a little delay. We managed to agree a means of scoring and then focused on selecting our prize winners. This worked quite smoothly though there are definitely a couple of entries who came very close and left us regretting that we hadn’t more books to distribute. We didn’t rank the prize winners, so there is no official first or second prize. The winners are listed below – look out for these and other entries coming up on Dementia Day to Day!

The prize winners seemed very pleased when they were contacted. We are now working out the best way to distribute the books to the winners. We hadn’t thought of doing certificates for participants but we did have a request for this, so we will be sending them out. We plan to post all the entries on the website as we are most grateful to everyone who took the trouble to contribute. So, look out for them!

Was it worth running the competition? Yes, definitely, we obviously have blogs that would not have been written otherwise, and several of them are brilliant. Will we do it again? To be discussed, I think, the administrative task is not inconsiderable. If someone wants to help, please let me know….


The winners were:

Marianne Scotland: I’d love a cup of tea

Eleri Clarke: A unique kind of grief

Rosemary: Presumptions

Steve Litchfield: Beauty survives gale force winds

Peter Riley: Blue horizons to a grey dawn

Karen Harrison Dening: Advance care planning through the COVID lens

Zarina Karim: Dignity comes first



Tom Dening

28th August 2020

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