Friday, June 20, 2014

That was the week that was...Part 2

Loads more photos in this one too.

I was up with the lark to go for a run along the Thames before brekkie. It was very pleasant running somewhere different but seemed so noisy compared to where I run, which is hardly surprising given that we live in the country!

Day 2 was a big day for ARUK because the Prime Minister was to give a speech in which he announced their Defeat Dementia campaign thus giving it extra gravitas.

I put on my serious dress but couldn't decide whether to have my hair up or down. 

Decisions, decisions. I decided that down was best but as it was hot and sunny I put it up for the morning then let it down in the afternoon. Best of both worlds!

It was such a glorious morning that I decided to walk to the Guildhall where the event was taking place.
The dome of St Paul's Cathedral, built by Sir Christopher Wren. The building stood as a beacon of hope during the war when everything around it was razed to the ground by the bombings - take a look at this iconic image
The Millennium Bridge
I always look up at the architecture whenever I'm in London as you can miss so much if you don't. There are so many wonderful stone carvings everywhere.

There were so many Boris Bikes all lined up ready for action. They were nicknamed thus because it was Boris Johnson,  Major of London, who introduced them. I saw lots of people using them although I'd be really scared to ride a bicycle in the London traffic.

It didn't take long to reach my destination Guildhall, on Gresham Street in the City of London. It was built in the early 15th century and is a magnificent building both inside and out.

It was easy to spot the entrance. I think that's Beth Britton being interviewed by the team from Sky News. Her father suffered from dementia and, like me, she campaigns in his memory.

As I'd got there quicker than expected I took myself off for a little wander around.

The Guildhall Art Gallery was below the area we were in and so I had a look round it later in the day
This beautiful water feature, designed by Allen David, was one of the first abstract works of art to be commissioned for public enjoyment by the City of London back in 1969. The reflections are glorious.
I sat awhile on a bench, absorbed in my knitting, next to this bust of Shakespeare 
I was struck by the design features of the modern buildings
What a lovely address!
By the time I'd got back to the entrance the TV crew were standing around looking doleful (it isn't glamourous waiting around for people to interview) and I had a chat to them. Then I had an idea; it's World Wide Knit in Public week (didn't it used to be a day?) and so I asked them if they'd oblige me with a photo, which they did - thanks chaps. I can't think of a better backdrop!

I sailed through security without my knitting needles being a problem, which surprised me, and then headed down into the Crypt to meet the team from ARUK.

Tim, Laura and Hilary

There were 2 large TV screens in the crypt so you could either watch down there or go and sit in the main room if you wanted to contribute. We opted to stay downstairs most of the time in case of any interview opportunities.

Carol and Patrick did an interview with the BBC which took ages. They have done such wonderful work for ARUK and it's fantastic that they speak out about his condition as it will encourage others to do the same.

This event was referred to as a 'legacy' event which some people found confusing but just meant it was a follow-on from the G8 Dementia Summit back in December 2013. This time it was the G7 as Russia was not present but there were delegates from the other countries.

The topics ranged from  'barriers to investment in research' to 'exploring the financial mechanisms that can be harnessed to increase investment in dementia'. The programme of speakers was varied so we could pick and choose who we wanted to hear.

I was interested in the 3rd morning session and so sneaked in at the back as everyone was coming back from a comfort break.

Sadly, even with the lights on a lot of the wonderful statues and stonework were hidden by banners etc but this photo below gives a feel for the room.

Lunch was held in the crypt and was a bit of a farce as they were so slow serving that people only had time for a small bowl of rather inferior risotto before they went back into the sessions. This worked to our advantage as we had to stay downstairs in readiness for our next event - an audience with the Prime Minister! So we ended up each having at least 2 small portions of really nice fruit salad each.

That also gave us plenty of time to explore the Crypt.

In the main area there were stained glass windows of famous people who has been members of the various Livery companies in the City of London. The Livery companies originated in the Medieval period as craft guilds and  decided who could trade, controlled wages and prices, working conditions and welfare. 'Livery' refers to their uniforms and these are still used on ceremonial occasions.

Whilst in the older part of the Crypt were the smaller Livery companies.
Master Mariners
Masons & Fletchers
Paviors, Gardeners & Clockmakers
On a trip downstairs to the toilets I noticed this interesting display which you could visit, and so I did. This information board explains what it's all about.

They recreated the effect of the amphitheatre using a light show, together with gladiators.

I also had a quick look around the gallery as Tower Bridge is my favourite bridge across the Thames.

I loved the photograph of the Olympic fireworks display
Oh, now where was I? Ah yes, waiting for our instructions for our chat with David Cameron, Prime Minister. Carol and I were rather excited and honoured to have an opportunity to chat with the PM. We were ushered into a side room well in advance and had a nice chat with one of his entourage and the photographer. It must be such a complicated job keeping him to a very tight time schedule and there was lots of flitting back and forth checking details.

He had been briefed beforehand about each of us, Patrick as a sufferer of Alzheimer's, Carol and I as carer's and fund-raisers. After what seemed like eons there was a bustle of people outside and in swept the Prime Minister. We knew we should shake his hand and address him "Good afternoon Prime Minister", which is what we did.

We were chaperoned by Hilary who had orchestrated the meeting with Mr Cameron's PA but the PA had arranged the room so that there were only 4 chairs and so she had to stand to one side. We had each been positioned beforehand - I was to his left with Patrick, then Carol to his right.

As soon as he sat down he asked Patrick to tell him his story. Patrick tried to explain that he was not capable of doing that and it now befalls Carol to explain things for him. Carol gave a brief history of how the disease manifested itself and then we expected him to turn to me for my mum's story but he didn't. He then started to ask Carol what she hoped to get out of the Summit and she was looking at me so I interjected and Mr Cameron swung round to face me but still didn't ask about my mum.

I was absolutely crestfallen.

Hilary jumped in and told him that I am a fund-raiser for ARUK but he obviously had his own agenda and with limited time (max 10 minutes but I don't think it was that long) he just had enough time for the film crew to come in whilst he was talking to Patrick and then to shoot off. She did, however manage to mention ARUK's £100m campaign and he asked one question about it and then that was that.

The photographer came in quickly to snap us for publicity (I don't know if we'll get a copy, probably not) and then Mr Cameron was swept away to prepare for his end of summit speech.

I can't explain how upset I was. After all that anticipation and excitement I hadn't been able to tell my mum's story. Carol was embarrassed that he'd spoken mainly to them but it wasn't her fault. At least Hilary got ARUK's message across. I know that it was amazing that he managed to fit us in at all with what's going on in Iraq but I still felt upset.

On the way back to the main hall to listen to his speech we caught a glimpse of Gog and Magog, the guardians of the City of London who lead the parade at the Lord Mayor's Show which is quite a spectacle.

As we stood at the back of the hall waiting for Mr Cameron to give his speech I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. I listened to about half his speech and then I just had to leave as I needed a good old cry, which is what I did intermittently most of the way home (I got some strange looks from people around me on the train!). Poor Tim had heard I was upset and tried to phone me but I was incapable of coherent speech and switched it off so he sent me a sweet text message, bless him.

The good thing is that the PM mentioned ARUK twice by name and spoke about their £100m campaign.

Onwards and upwards.

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