He has direct experience of caring for someone with dementia as his mother is living with the condition. This valuable knowledge has been passed onto local support groups and to other members in the Lanark walking group to create a wider understanding of the health condition.
When Donald, who volunteers with Healthy Valleys was diagnosed with MS he had to stop working as a dentist. He explains:
I was at a bit of a loose end when I heard about the work of Healthy Valleys in the community and the various projects they run.
One project was with Paths for All. I’d always been into walking and jogging and things like that, so thought I’d get involved and give it a try.
Healthy Valleys help out in remote communities where people, particularly older people, can be quite isolated with not much access to public transport.
Throughout lockdown, Donald regularly picked up prescriptions and delivered food parcels for the elderly and more vulnerable members in the group. He says:
During the Covid-19 lockdown, we had to pause the walking groups however we have recently been able to set the group back up. We’re hoping to have all the same numbers back, but it’s a case of getting back in touch with everyone and getting them involved.
We anticipate some people might be a bit apprehensive so we’re starting with a buddy system where people can just walk with one other person before joining back in with the groups.
As long as we’re being responsible with distancing, the majority of people who have been shielding are keen to get back out.
The walking group gave me a routine again and I’ve made a lot of new contacts and friends. It’s also great to see new things in places you might have walked past and not noticed.
If anyone is thinking about taking up walking, I’d say go for it as there are so many benefits for your physical and mental health that many do not know about.
I’m delighted to have won this award and feel really honoured than many in my walking group nominated me”.
Watch Donald's film about how he has benefited from volunteering and the support that is available to walkers living with dementia to enjoy time outdoors exercising.
To find out more about Health Walks you can join in South Lanarkshire, visit our website.
To find out more about Dementia Friendly Walking visit our webpage.