Two hundred and twenty people gathered in central Bristol yesterday for the annual BRACE conference.

The fourth of its kind, our conference aimed to bring together people with a wide range of expertise and perspectives on dementia. Hence its title - #Together4Dementia.

Expertly chaired again by Sir Martyn Lewis, formerly one of the leading news broadcasters in the UK, the conference consisted of four presentations, an interview and a ‘Question Time’ panel discussion to conclude.

Professor Myra Conway opened proceedings by explaning 'the science of dementia' to a largely lay audience. She was followed by Bristol architect Kevin Goodenough, who described the challenges that must be met when designing care homes suitable for people with dementia.

The third speaker, Subitha Baghirathan, outlined the findings of a report on the dementia experiences of ethnic minority groups, which she co-authored. The final presentation before lunch was by dementia specialist Dr Judy Haworth, on why some people develop the condition and others don’t.

After lunch, Martyn Lewis interviewed Norman McNamara about the astonishing worldwide growth and impact of Purple Angel which has become a leading voice in the fight against stigma, bringing comfort to those living with dementia and to their carers, families and friends.  Norman co-founded Purple Angel in January 2012.


The panel for the final session included Professor Gordon Wilcock, the pioneering research scientist who helped found both BRACE and the Alzheimer’s Society. With him were Winsome Barrett-Muir (South Gloucestershire Dementia Action Alliance), Professor Richard Cheston (UWE), Jayne Connery (CCTV Care Campaign for the Vulnerable) and Rachel Thompson (Admiral Nurses/Dementia UK).

A lively debate ensued about issues such as safety in care homes, standards of care more generally, whether the UK is becoming more dementia-friendly, and the BBC documentary by Alan Shearer about brain damage caused by heading footballs (broadcast 12 November).

We would like to thank everyone who came to the conference, especially Sir Martyn Lewis and the various speakers, panellists and exhibitors.

Banner image by Anna Molter