Today was our launch of Tovertafel to the community and the unveiling of the plaque. We had 2 special guests – The Mayor of Barnet Cllr Reuben Thompstone with his 4 year old Son Thomas supporting the Mayor and it was also a pleasure to welcome Theresa Villiers MP for Chipping Barnet and also our Patron for Dementia Club UK.

The Mayor of Barnet Cllr Reuben Thompstone and his 4 year old son Thomas unveiling the plaque
The Mayor of Barnet Cllr Reuben Thompstone and his 4 year old son Thomas unveiling the plaque

Other guests were;

  • Nigel Wray – Chairman of Saracens
  • Rose Degen – Saracens Charity Relationship Manager
  • Mehdi Bedioui – from Tovertafel (CEO & Co-founder of Shift 8 the company
  • Andrew Spiers – from Tovertafel –Sales Director
  • Kay Matthews – NHS Barnet Chief Operating officer
  • Ian Bretman – Lay Member for Patient and Public Engagement
  • Robyn Sandler – Communications & Engagement Manager for Barnet CCG
  • Alan Gavurin – Estates Lead & Managing Director, Damson Health
  • Representatives from Community Health Partnerships
  • Sarah Perrin – Lead Commissioner Mental health and Dementia
  • Cllr. Caroline Stock – Chairman of Health & WellBeing Board
  • Mathew Kendall – Director of Adults & Communities Services
  • Richard Healy – CEO Barnet Community Transport
  • Rotarians from Edgware & Stanmore and Hendon
  • Anne Duggan – from The Fremantle Trust
  • Mayana McDermott – from SENSE a National disability charity
  • Monique from The Alzheimer’s Society
  • Sasha Capocci – from The Studios Rotary Club Borehamwood who made the celebratory cake today and donated it to Dementia Club UK.
Partner organisations.
Partner organisations.

It was also a pleasure to see many of the members of Dementia Club UK.

Five years ago on the 14th August 2013 Dementia Club UK opened the first dementia café in Barnet in this hospital and this was commemorated by an unveiling of a plaque which is outside room 62 on the wall. The dementia café was opened with funds that I raised when I was Mayor of Barnet in 2011/2012.

Dementia Club UK is now running 7 dementia clubs in the Borough of Barnet and one in Borehamwood. This would not have been possible of course without the continued support of Nigel Wray Chairman of Saracens.

The unveiling of this plaque today commemorates a special piece of equipment called Tovertafel which has been donated by Dementia Club UK to The Finchley Memorial Hospital and this is the first London hospital to have this equipment.

This wonderful innovation was brought to the UK by John Ramsay and Mehdi Bedioui, Founders of Shift 8 – the company.

The Tovertafel means ‘Magic table’ in Dutch and has been designed to help those people with mid to progressed dementia and will also benefit people with learning disabilities and children and adults with autism. Tovertafel consists of a series of interactive games that are projected on a table and can be played independently or with friends and family.

The Tovertafel was installed in this hospital on the 24th March 2018.

Dementia Club UK members have enjoyed playing with The Tovertafel and we are now opening this to the community. I have seen people with progressed dementia and when they sit at The Tovertafel table their face suddenly lights up with joy and they start to interact by trying to reach and touch the projected animations.

As a carer myself as my mother has progressed Alzheimer’s disease, I know the difficulties and challenges carers and families are faced with daily. To be able to provide some respite not only for the dementia suffers but also their carers and families is so important. Giving them something to look forward to and new innovations such as The Tovertafel makes a huge difference to their lives.

Dementia Club UK has joined together with Saracens, Barnet Council, The Fremantle Trust, Rotary, NHS and NHS Barnet Clinical Commissioning Group and Community Health Partnerships to now promote The Tovertafel to the community.

Finchley Memorial Hospital is in a prime location and with its increased number of services coming soon will become a very busy hospital. I am also working with Richard Healy and TfL to help establish a bus route that will be able to come down the long road to the hospital entrance.

I hope that many people with dementia and people with learning disabilities will come and enjoy The Tovertafel. For those interested to book the Tovertafel, please contact me.