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A day in the life......Jenny Vertigan

Jenny's a Wokshop Lead at YPWD and has kindly taken time out to be the 'A day in the life' feature for this edition of the e-newsletter.

Could you tell us how you first became aware of the charity, what brought that about and how you came to work for the charity?

I worked for Woodley Age Concern Day Centre as a Care Assistant.  One day my manager approached me to ask if I would support her with this new group being set up for people with young onset dementia, something I knew absolutely nothing about!  I agreed to help at their first session where I met Gill Stokes and Claire Watts who took me under their wings and nurtured me.  My manager very quickly took a back seat and just let me get on with it.  I worked closely with this group for four years until the day centre closed.  By this time, YPWD was a fully fledged part of the young omset dementia world and so it was a natural move to join the team.

Can you tell us what you do in your job?

I am lead member of staff for the workshops.  I source, plan and execute the workshops.  We all work together to produce the finished articles but I am responsible for planning them into a schedule, booking venues and sourcing people to lead specialist activities.  I am also the charity's volunteer co-ordinator so I have the opportunity to liaise with and support our amazing volunteers quite regularly.

Would you be willing to share with our readers a little about your career, what attracted you to it and what you have done and what else you do now beyond the day job

I’ve done a variety of jobs, accounts, shop management, parcel delivery.  Nothing very exciting.... until working with people diagnosed with young onset dementia.  I love it!  It’s not really a job (but don’t tell the bosses, they think we work really hard!), it’s more like spending social time with friends every day!

When I grow up I’m going to be a lighthouse keeper.  I will live in an off-shore lighthouse on a tiny island with a donkey on a hill.  My means of transport to get to the mainland will be by chinook.

Beyond the day job I am a mum to 3.5 kids – a step-son of 29, a son of 22, a son of eight and a beautiful girl of four years.  I run our local food bank too.  And my husband and I own a gym (not that I ever have time to use it!)  I love swimming and running neither of which I am very good at.

If you had to pick one thing to be most proud of, from your involvement with the charity, what would it be and why?

From the workshops point of view, I thought the bus trips were the most successful and gave us a new angle.  Recently, I came up with an idea to have weaving looms at our workshops.  Our wonderfully hands-on Respite Worker Phil made them himself from just a picture I sent him.  They have been an absolute success from the off.  Pretty proud of that idea.

If you had to sum up YPWD in just three words what would they be?

Friendship, priceless and effective.

Do you have a hobby or skill that you’d be happy to share with us and that you think may surprise our readers?

We are a bit of a nerdy family and all love pillboxes.  As in the concrete dug-in guard posts dotted around the countryside.  We love a good walk whatever the weather in search of new pillboxes to photograph and map!

What is your favourite meal to cook and why? 

I love cooking fajitas.  I’m vegan but hubby is most definitely not, so with fajitas we can both enjoy lots of flavours in our food and still eat a similar meal.  With a cold glass of white rioja!

Where is the most interesting place in the UK/world that you have been and what was it that attracted you to go there?

I went on a Caribbean cruise a few years ago and we got diverted (due to storms) to an island in the Grenadines called Mayreau.  0.5 sq. miles in size, population of around 250!  The tiny village on top of the hill in the middle of the island doesn’t even have a name and the only way on to the island is by boat.  The ship we were on had to dock at sea and we made it ashore on the small rigs as there is not even a port!  It was the most beautiful place I have ever seen, virtually untouched by the outside world (until our ship arrived!).  We rocked up on their beach, the villagers stoked up the bbq, hand picked the lobsters from the pots in the sea and sliced the tops off the coconuts with their machetes!

If you were in charge of the world, for just one day, what is the one thing you’d encourage everyone to do?

Take off your shoes, feel the ground beneath your feet and listen to the natural world around us.

As we are now all working from home and social distancing – do you have any ‘top tips’ for our readers to make the day inside fly by that little bit quicker?

Break your day down into bite-sized chunks.  Make a routine and try to stick to it.  With my kids at home, we’ll be allocating time for learning, chores, quiet time, play and exercise so our days have some structure.  Nothing lasts too long and we don’t waste this time together.


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