Thirsk Rotary Club Joins Campaign to Become Dementia Friendly

Andrew Van Parys with Colin Brown, Thirsk Rotary President
Andrew Van Parys with Colin Brown, Thirsk Rotary President

Thirsk Rotary has recently joined the campaign to become dementia friendly. Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders who dedicate their time and talent to tackle the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members from more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work improves lives at both local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working towards a polio free world.

Rotary projects worldwide focus on important issues such as peace and conflict resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education, literacy, economic and community development. On a more local level the Thirsk division of this international charity were keen to understand more about dementia and to help make their town Thirsk a dementia friendly community.

Business owner, Andrew Van Parys from Home Instead who support older people living at home in and around the towns of Harrogate, Ripon and Thirsk has been busy raising awareness of dementia in the local community. Andrew Van Parys who volunteers as a Dementia Champion has been running information sessions to create as many Dementia Friends as possible. This recent session at Thirsk Rotary follows on from another successful event at The Inner Wheel of Ripon Rowels, who undertake the same benevolent work in the local community.

The Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends initiative has been running for a number of years and is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. The aim is to educate the public on becoming a dementia friendly society and to transform the way the nation thinks, talks and acts about the condition. They have educated over one million people in dementia awareness and with the know-how to help people with dementia feel understood and included in their community. Many businesses, organisations and Local Authorities have committed to becoming ‘Dementia Friendly’ and are actively looking for routes to achieve this.

There are currently over 685,000 people living with the condition in England.

Dementia Friends Champions are volunteers who talk to people about being a Dementia Friend in their communities. Speaking about the recent Thirsk Rotary session, Andrew Van Parys said:

‘I was so pleased to see people showing their support for people with dementia, by coming along to the session and becoming Dementia Friends. We need to create more communities, organisations and businesses that are dementia friendly so that people affected by dementia feel understood and included. It is great that the Thirsk Rotary Club members are keen to become Dementia Friends as they have such strong links with the local community, offering support and help to many families and individuals ’


Mark Boersma, a Rotary member who attended the recent session commented; ‘This session made me realise that my depth of understanding of the illness was far from complete. By becoming a Dementia Friend I aim to help spread the understanding of the illness’.

Andrew Van Parys signed up to be a Dementia Friends Champion last year and attended a one day training course on how to deliver the sessions. He continued:

‘I signed up to be a Dementia Friends Champion because I am passionate about changing people’s attitudes to dementia. I’m so proud to be part of a growing network of people helping to create dementia friendly communities across England.’


To find out more about Dementia Friends visit

To contact Home Instead in Harrogate call: 01423 774490, Ripon call: 01765 530400 and for Thirsk call: 01845 440510. For more information about Home Instead please visit:

For general enquiries on Thirsk Rotary contact the secretary on 01845 597469 or email: [email protected]