Chief Executive says Alzheimer’s Society wouldn’t be the organisation it is without volunteers like Ed

A retired Causeway accountant who has been volunteering for Alzheimer’s Society for more than 20 years has received special recognition for his long service.

Portstewart man Ed McAuley has first-hand experience of dementia as he supported his beloved wife, Myrtle McAuley, who lived with Alzheimer’s disease.

He began his role in Alzheimer’s Society as part of the Causeway Branch committee and was able to bring several valuable skills from the finance sector to his volunteer work.

Sign up to our daily NorthernIrelandWorld Today newsletter

Aoife McMaster, Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Support Worker for Causeway, explained why Ed is such an amazing volunteer.

Ed with other Volunteers at Causeway Awareness Event in 2019. Also pictured: Jennifer McElfatrick; Alison Daly; Peter Cullinan

“Ed has been a passionate supporter and volunteer for Alzheimer’s Society for over 20 years and throughout that time his compassion and dedication for making a difference to people affected by dementia has been unwavering.

“Over the last twenty years, Ed has adapted to and overcome many challenges, including the recent Covid 19 pandemic. His support for people affected by dementia as well as the local staff and other volunteers has been unwavering.

“Ed is a trusted expert in the Causeway area as he has been heavily involved with the Society longer than most of the staff and volunteers.”

Adrian Friel, Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Connect Local Services Manager, who was interviewed by Ed for the job 15 years ago, said: “Ed is a true asset to Alzheimer’s Society and a pure joy to work with. He has brought lots of passion and determination to ensure that everyone affected by dementia has the support they need.

Ed with actor Jayne Wisener, Anne McCusker, Jennifer McElfatrick, at an Alzheimer's Causeway Awareness Event in 2017

“He is one of our longest standing volunteers and he has done so much for people living with dementia.

Volunteers have been at the heart of Alzheimer’s Society since it was established here in Northern Ireland.

“We greatly value the time, skills and knowledge that our volunteers share with us and the difference that volunteering makes to our Alzheimer’s Society activities.”

Adrian continued: “The past two years has been tough for all of us. However, for people affected by dementia it has been a nightmare and people have told us of the isolation and the deterioration social exclusion has brought upon them.

Ed (second right) at an Alzheimer's Society Roadshow at Tesco Ballymoney in 2018 with Adrian Friel (Alzheimer’s Society); Jennifer McElfatrick (Volunteer); Aoife McMaster (Alzheimer’s Society); Brenda Chivers (Causeway Council Mayor 2018); Jackie Brogan (Tesco); Jenna Allen (COAST); Ed McAuley (Volunteer); William McCandless (Local Councillor)

“People living with Dementia have deteriorated quickly because of the pandemic. There’s been frustration and loss brought about by lack of visiting in care environments by family members. And requirements like face masks and maintaining social distancing are difficult to understand when you are living with dementia.

“This is the reality for the estimated 22,000 people living with dementia in Northern Ireland.

“Since the pandemic began, Alzheimer’s Society support services have been used six million times across the UK, showing that people affected by dementia need us now more than ever.”

Ed has also received recognition from Alzheimer’s Society CEO Kate Lee: “There has been enormous change over the time Ed has been with us.

“Alzheimer’s Society would not be the organisation it is today without the contribution made by brilliant volunteers like Ed, giving their time to support people with dementia and their carers, ” she said.