New rural dementia-friendly guide

In May, Alzheimer’s Society launched their new Dementia-friendly rural communities guide, the result of the Prime Minister’s rural dementia task group. Our founder and Chair, Ann Pascoe, was a part of the task group, sharing our experience of the challenges faced by those working towards becoming more dementia-friendly in a rural location.

Our interactive screens project features in the report as a good example of a technology-related dementia-friendly initiative.

To find our more and read the report visit the Alzheimer’s Society website.

We’re looking for a Modern Apprentice!

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Big Lottery funding support

In April we were delighted to receive news that the Big Lottery Fund had approved £112,000 of funding to support our work over the next three years. This will make a huge difference for us and ensure that our work at the Helmsdale Village Hub, as well as our Dinner To Your Door and Bridge Over Troubled Waters services, will be guaranteed for the coming years.

We are very grateful to the Big Lottery Fund for this support.

Art ‘n Blether – new programme

Our new Art ‘n Blether programme starts today, following the success of our recent series’ of sessions.

The courses take place at Helmsdale Community Centre from 1.30pm to 3.30pm on Wednesday afternoons.

18th April – Pen & Ink
25th April – Glass Painting
2nd May – Oil Painting
9th May – Pastels (oils or soft)
16th May – Any Medium, Any Subject
23rd May – Field Painting/Drawing

Each session costs £5, which is inclusive of all materials and tuition.

more information do get in touch through our website here or, by email to or by calling us on 01431 821655.

Hub Open Day 2018

openday18 3On Saturday 17th March, we held the Helmsdale Village Hub Open Day at Helmsdale Community Centre. This was a free event for the whole community, showcasing the best of what is regularly on offer at the Hub.

Throughout the day there was live music, bingo, arts & craft activities, a baking stall, mini Reiki sessions, a nail bar, exercise demonstrations, a pop-up shop, a raffle and the day was rounded off with a fantastic demonstration from local dancers. For the youngsters, the minions movie, Despicable Me 3, was shown on our large cinema style screen, there was a lucky dip and face painting.

openday18 2Our Dinner To Your Door café offered freshly made soup, sandwiches and a number of delicious puddings as well as tea, coffee and home baking.

The Open Day was a great day out for the whole family and raised a fantastic £518.

A big thank you to all those who came along and supported the event. We hope to run another Hub Open Day again in 2019!

DFC becomes a charity!

We are delighted to announce that we have now become a charity, recognised by OSCR, the Scottish Charity Regulator.

The decision to move from being a Community Interest Company to a charity was taken to open up new avenues of funding and maximise on any funding received.

This change in status will have no impact on the operations of the company or our services and activities, just on our name, which is now Dementia Friendly Communities Ltd.

Help us go Highland-wide!

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Helmsdale’s 2nd Dog Show

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Winners in the Best Veteran category

Twenty-seven hardy dogs and their owners gathered in a damp Helmsdale for our 2nd Helmsdale Dog Show at the Community Centre on Saturday. Local residents were joined by visitors from the West Coast and Invershin for 11 competition categories, ranging from Best Veteran to Best Biscuit Catcher and Dog the Judge Would Most Like to Take Home.


Judge for the day was professional dog trainer Annabell Smith from Aunty Annabell’s Daytime Adventure who had her work cut out for her as she assessed the condition, behaviour and skills of 20 different breeds of dog.

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Best in Show Boorah the Irish Setter with owner Billy

Best in Show saw Vinnie the Yorkie (Best Veteran) go up against Archie the Cairn Terrier (Best Small Dog) and Tess the Pointer Cross Setter (Best Cross Breed) who all narrowly missed out to Pepper the Labrador (who won Best Large Dog) who was runner up and overall winner Boorach the Irish Setter. Boorach, who had previously excelled in the Best Pedigree category, and his owner Billy Cowie received a special rosette as well as a bag of Burns natural pet food. As well as providing this winning prize, Burns also donated goodie bags for all entrants containing a range of treats, while sponsorship from Easter Ross Vets funded the rosettes.

Other winners on the day included Sophie Sparkles the Lhasa Apso for Best Trick, Katie the Collie for Best Biscuit Catcher, Chilli the Chocolate Labrador for Waggiest Tail, and young Charlotte was awarded Best Young Handler alongside Jake the Fox Terrier Cross Jack Russell. After much deliberation Annabell chose Goose the Pointer Cross Labrador as the dog she would most like to take home.

Annabell also brought along her dog agility equipment, allowing everyone a chance to see how well their dog coped with the tunnel, the slalom or the jump.

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Winners of the Best Young Handler

A well-received pop-up café serving an array of sandwiches, quiches, cakes, and hot and cold beverages was open in the Community Centre hall alongside stalls selling the work and goods of Alsorts Arts and Crafts, Highland Hounds, Highland Candles, the SSPCA, Anne Rutt Arts and Crafts, Kenny’s of Brora and Munlochy Animal Aid. Further support for the event was given by The Bunilidh Rowing Club, Pet Pals Pet Shop (Lairg), Bliss Brora, Marine Hotel Brora, Glenmorangie, Nicki Hughes and Alder Holly and ITC Dog First Aid Courses.

Wendy Simmonds, our Project Lead at The Helmsdale Hub who organised the event, said: “We were concerned that the bad weather would have put people off, but it didn’t seem to phase the dogs or their owners at all. We had a fantastic team of volunteers, as well as Annabell our judge, who worked really hard on the day and we couldn’t have managed it without them. We’ve had some very positive feedback and it was great to see so many familiar faces from last year’s show as well as new dogs and others who had travelled from further afield to join us. Our sponsors, exhibitors and those who contributed prizes for the raffle and tombola were very generous this year and we’d like to thank them for all they did to support this really enjoyable event.”

Introducing Art & A Blether

In May we began a series of six sessions of our new Art & A Blether project. A number of local budding artists signed up to join us for the course, which will see them try their hand at various art techniques, such as clay modelling, water colours, drawing/sketching and glass painting.

The sessions are followed by our new Pop-up Cafe, which supports participants to connect and socialise with others.

Art & A Blether came about following some local research carried out in early 2017. We asked the community what type of classes they would be interested in attending and there was a strong response for art. This is just the first of a number of classes we will be organising going forward and we hope to run another course of these classes again in the future.

If you are based in East Sutherland and are interested in finding out more about future art classes or other classes we may be running then please do contact us.

Men’s Shed open for business

On 17th February the sun was out for the launch of the new Men’s Shed in Helmsdale. Dr Paul Monaghan, our local MP, was on hand to cut the ribbon as men in attendance wielded a range of new and donated tools.

The Shed, constructed between September last year and February, is located next to Helmsdale Community Centre on disused piece of land leased from Helmsdale and District Community Association. The idea for a Men’s Shed in the village came from Helmsdale-based Creative Communities and was made possible with a grant from SSE’s Gordonbush community benefit fund.

The event was opened by Creative Communities’ Steve Henderson who explained the social and emotional benefits that Men’s Sheds have proven to bring to men since the concept was originally introduced in Australia. A cheque for £1,000 was presented to Bunillidh Rowing Club, who built the shed, and thanks were also given to those who donated the windows, tools by Dementia Friendly Communities and Helmsdale District Development Trust, along with a number of local organisations and personnel who contributed by providing discount on purchased items and significant contributions in time to expedite the build.  The Men’s Shed sign at the entrance to the Shed was hand-crafted by Alan Bithell, a Golspie resident, who was made aware of the Helmsdale Men’s Shed through Veteran’s First Point visits to Helmsdale.

The event was attended by over 20 people including local residents and representatives from SSE, Evanton Wood Community Company, Veterans First Point Highland and Woodland Trust Scotland. Attendees were treated to pies, sausage rolls, chips and beans as well as freshly baked cakes and a specially prepared Men’s Shed cake given by Margaret Finlayson.

The Helmsdale Men’s Shed is now one of almost 50 Sheds in Scotland and is a member of the Scottish Men’s Shed Association. If you are interested in finding out more about the Shed then you can drop in between 10am and 3pm, Mon through Fri, or call 01431 821655.