We only usually think about Santa, at Christmas time. He is the big jolly guy who rocks up on a sleigh pulled by reindeer and delivers gifts at unlikely speed all over the world whilst consuming unspeakable quantities of sherry and mince pies.
He used to remind me of Jack Bauer from '24'. One massive full on day once a year and then disappearing without trace until he pops up next time
So what does Santa get up to for the rest of the year? And what form of transport does he use out of season? When there is no snow on the ground. How do the reindeer keep themselves amused? Here at #MatExp, we have discovered the truth
The reindeer do voluntary work. These bad boys rocked up this week at Kingston Hospital. They came for the turning on of the Christmas lights by the Mayor, much to the delight of the children. Kingston Hospital do lots of fab innovative stuff, which is why I enjoy working with them on our #KHFTWhoseShoes project
So what about Santa himself? Do you remember, back in June, we held a Whose Shoes workshop in Guernsey?
Afterwards, to relax, we took a boat across to Herm which is a tiny island with almost completely deserted beaches And who should we see …? 👀
And then he was gone
But lovely Father Christmas also does voluntary work. I bet you wondered how we all managed to get to so many places during #MatExpOnTour in November?!
But the biggest favour he did for us this year was to come forward by magic and bring us something very special indeed. Now in the process I inadvertently found out who Father Christmas was. So if I tell you, you will have to promise not to tell. Or a lot of children will be very upset. The thing is, #MatExp was growing so quickly that we desperately needed a logo ... But we couldn't afford £2 million and then to Consignia it to the bin 👀
One day the phone rang. It was my friend Ken Howard. Hey Gill. You know how you said #MatExp needs a logo. I have had a go at doing one for you. I have emailed it over. See what you think..."
Ken is an unusual guy. He was diagnosed with dementia nearly 10 years ago. He finds some things hard like reading and writing. But he breaks every stereotype in the book as he enjoys riding a Harley ... and can design fab images. Like this one.
We have done a lot of Whose Shoes workshops together
Sandra Springett always includes a picture of Ken on his bike when we do #dementiachallengers workshops. Can you spot him?
When we do work together, sometimes I jump on the back of the Harley. In the winter I hop on the sleigh. Or occasionally we are boring and take more conventional forms of transport
People listen intently to what Ken has to say. Ken can tell them what it feels like to be diagnosed with dementia. He is charismatic and shares his tips for coping and making the best of what life throws at you. Good advice for all of us really. I highly recommend him as a speaker.
These are some of our friends at the Healthy Living Club in London – a group of volunteers and people from the community, learning so much from Ken's experiences
And we meet wonderful people. And we have fun. Having a bit of fun is central to the Whose Shoes approach and it was the work that we did around building 'dementia friendly communities' that led directly to the #MatExp project
I was delighted when Ken was included in the 'top 50 HSJ Patient Leaders' this summer, along with the fabulous Alison Cameron. I think Alison's Dad was as proud as I was
Anyway, back to the logos! As you can see, I was very excited
Leigh Kendall is one of our most JFDI #MatExp members. Leigh immediately used Ken's logo to produce some wonderful stickers and leaflets, which have been extremely successful. Oh yes. And Leigh set up our matexp.org.uk website.. As you do.
Our eyes lit up as we started to see all the possibilities…👀
Nowhere was safe… 👀
And no-one was safe 😀
So the moral of this story is that anyone can do anything. You don't have to be Father Christmas.
So now you know who Father Christmas is - and the fantastic role he has been playing adding a bit of colour to our #MatExpAdvent-ures. Christmas will never be the same again. 😉
Happy Christmas to you too Ken! ✨🌟And a magical New Year 🌟✨