South Shields woman wins national award for dementia organisation set up during pandemic

A North East organisation is on cloud nine after winning a prestigious award at a top ceremony in London.

Sunday, 28th November 2021, 12:22 pm
CEO Victoria McCann with colleague Penny Frantzescou

Unforgettable Experiences is run by Victoria McMann, from South Shields.

Victoria said the organisation was launched in 2020 to provide creative, interactive and practical support to help older people with dementia, those with neurological conditions and their carers to access arts, culture and heritage based activities as an alternative model of care.

The organisation has gone from strength to strength during the pandemic supporting older adults with memory complaints, mental health, dementia, and neurological conditions through a newly developed and evidenced therapeutic artistic service.

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CEO Victoria McMann with team member Penny Frantzescou at the awards ceremony in London.

It was set up after husband, Richard suffered a brain injury back in 2013 and realised there wasn’t much help for others with neurological conditions.

The couple understand the limitations of living with a cognitive impairment and how difficult the rehabilitation process can be.

Unforgettable Experiences received some government funding in August 2020 which is when the organisation really took off. Their interactive and creative sessions have clinically proven to improve mental wellbeing and memory. The sessions have been able to help a number of people across the Tees Valley area.

The organisation was nominated for national Health and Wellbeing Entrepreneur and Company of the Year and were crowned winners at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2021 in London.

Victoria, who now lives in Darlington, said: “I was shocked to find out we’d won as I wasn’t expecting it at a national event when we only set up last year."

Victoria praised her small team who have worked hard to make this happen.

She added: “It felt like a win for them more than me as they’ve worked so hard and I can’t thank them enough.”

Victoria is working hard to bring the service to South Tyneside and help more people who could benefit from the service. North Tyneside have been commissioned to deliver the service. This is part of Victoria’s vision to be able to deliver the service nationwide and allow more people with neurological conditions access further support.

She also hopes by introducing the services further afield she can add to existing services and offer a broader range of sessions and activities.