After a career spanning 48 years, Alzheimer Scotland’s Policy and Practice Consultant, Dr Barbara Sharp, was recognised for her incredible contribution to the dementia community by being awarded a Scotland’s Dementia Awards Lifetime Achievement Award recently.

The awards, which are a partnership between Alzheimer Scotland, NHS Education for Scotland and the Scottish Social Services Council, normally take place every September and celebrate the inspirational achievements of those outstanding individuals making a difference for people living with dementia and their families across health, social service and community settings.

Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the awards were unable to take place this year, however the judging committee felt it essential to virtually present Barbara with the much-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award before she embarked on her retirement.

Dr Barbara Sharp with her award

Barbara, from Seamill in North Ayrshire, started her career as a nurse and held several roles throughout 18 years with the NHS, which started by training as a sick children’s nurse before moving into adult nursing, where she worked specifically with older people both in a ward environment and in teaching positions.

In 1990, Barbara moved to Alzheimer Scotland, initially as Project Co-ordinator to establish a service in Glasgow within the Gorbals area. Barbara’s contribution has grown over the years, from opening the first specific service for younger people to helping to establish Alzheimer Scotland’s first ever Dementia Resource Centre in Oxford Street, Glasgow. More recently, she has been integral in partnership working with Scottish Government, NHS Education for Scotland, Scottish Social Services Council, and University of the West of Scotland to realise the ambitions of Scotland’s National Dementia Strategies. Barbara has also worked closely with the network of Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse Consultants and helped to deliver national programmes such as Scotland’s Dementia Champions and Dementia Specialist Improvement Lead programmes.

On winning the award, Barbara said: ‘It was an incredible surprise to win the Lifetime Achievement Award and a very special way to mark my retirement. I’ve had the privilege to experience an amazingly diverse career with Alzheimer Scotland. I’ve worked with incredible people with passion and drive and resilience. Working with the organisation has given me the opportunity to be involved in a remarkable period of transformation in how dementia is viewed and understood. Most importantly, it has also been a period when we’ve witnessed the voice of people with dementia and their families increasingly influence policy and practice. I think we’ve shone a light on how things can be, but the gains are fragile and must continue to be fought for, improved and secured.”

Henry Simmons, Alzheimer Scotland’s Chief Executive said: “Whilst we weren’t able to hold Scotland’s Dementia Awards this year, we felt it important that we recognise Barbara’s contribution before her retirement.

Barbara has been a wonderful colleague and friend, whose guidance, interventions and approaches have made a substantial difference not just to Alzheimer Scotland but to the dementia field as a whole. It has been an honour to work alongside someone so ethical, principled and skilled but also someone who is so patient and kind.”