CHAMPIONING dementia awareness has always been about sharing stories with others for Anne Tudor.
Ms Tudor said the pride she feels in receiving an Order of Australia medal this Queen's Birthday holiday is more about all the people who have passed her way, offering support and their own stories, to drive a societal attitude shift.
It has been a "long journey" for Ms Tudor, first caring for her mother then long-time partner Edie Mayhew, who was diagnosed with younger-onset dementia, shy of 60 years old, in 2010.
In sharing their story with dementia, Ms Tudor and Ms Mayhew spoke up in national and international dementia forums, always keeping a strong focus on community change in their hometown Ballarat.
Ms Mayhew died last July aged 69 and Ms Tudor said she still felt her wife's influence, working beside her.
This is fabulous for dementia in Ballarat...[This medal] is something for which anyone affected by dementia in Ballarat should feel pride.Anne Tudor
"This doesn't feel like my award. This feels very much like it's shared with Edie and my mother and the amazing people across the world I've met with dementia," Ms Tudor said.
"This is fabulous for dementia in Ballarat...[This medal] is something for which anyone affected by dementia in Ballarat should feel pride."
Ms Tudor is a retired teacher and clinical psychologist. She penned the book Where's Mum? Caring for a relative with dementia at Ballarat's Queens Elizabeth Centre in 1995.
Together, Ms Tudor and Ms Mayhew were key drivers in launching Bigger Hearts Dementia Friendly Ballarat Foundation in 2016 to champion kindness and patience in dementia awareness projects across the community, such as cafes and multi-media projects.
Other alliance projects include the dementia-friendly sensory walking trail in Woowookarung Regional Park set to open this year, a dementia support network and iPad mentors for people with dementia in lockdowns.
Ms Tudor said none of this was possible without other passionate people and community organisations. As such, Ms Tudor said most of these projects had gathered great momentum.
"This has all got momentum way beyond me. It's really got a life of its own," Ms Tudor said. "We've also got extraordinary young advocates. The choir has an experienced conductor who is absolutely amazing. Now we've got to look at finding more ways for fundraising, but I think Bigger Hearts is completely sustainable."
Advocacy for Ms Tudor has always been about bringing a human face to an increasing prevalent disease that no-one wanted to talk about.
Ms Tudor was unsure where this journey might lead her, and pioneering dementia companion dog Melvin, but said there was always plenty of work in this space.
The Courier will feature more stories on the award winners online later today.
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