in the footsteps of Jane Austen, but in sturdier
shoes, The "Stepping Out" walkers visited
Goodnestone Park Gardens in May, the third in the
series of eight walks this year.
A party of
over 50 walkers, including the high-profile Kent
dementia campaigners, Lorraine Brown and Wayne
Eaton, were able to stroll through famous walled
gardens or explore the woodland surrounding the
estate. Francis Plumptre, youngest brother of the
current owner, also offered a guided tour of the
Queen Anne house where Jane Austenís brother once
lived and to which she was a frequent visitor.
the strong walkers were guided by Kent Ramblers on a
woodland stroll, known as the 'Serpentine Walk',
with views across acres of parkland to the house,
the shorter walk took its participants through a
string of walled gardens richly populated in
wisteria, clematis, early roses and peonies.
Goodnestone Church, which Jane Austen could approach
through the gardenís back gate thereby avoiding the
village hurly-burly, made a dramatic backdrop.
"Itís absolutely beautiful," said Lorraine, 65, the
star of a national advertisement campaign for
Alzeimerís Research UK who has been invited to 10
Downing Street later this summer to meet the Prime
Minister and call for better treatment in employment
for those with dementia.
2014 she was diagnosed with dementia herself while
working for the Mental Health Crisis team at Medway
NHS Foundation Trust. Her employment was
"I had two years to
go before I would have received my pension but I had
15 minutes to leave the building. I believe I
could still have been of great value to the team in
a different role. I could prove that you can
still have a purposeful life beyond a diagnosis of
dementia. Thatís what I want to say to the
"After my diagnosis I was in
a dark place for about nine months to a year.
It was like a bad dream. That's when I decided
to leave a legacy for Alzheimerís Research in my
will, to help future generations."
Eaton, 62, a powerful campaigner for living well
with dementia who has two different types of the
condition himself, said: "Weíre living proof that it
is possible to live a good life with dementia and an
employer cannot get rid of people without 'just
cause'. Our view is that having dementia is
not 'just cause'. Some people think we should be
immediately removed to 'Dementia World'. But
the world is the world, and we want to be in it.
We can still offer so much value to ourselves and
the society around us.
can stay well for longer too and exercise is great
part of that. I can't ride my bike any more but I
can still enjoy a wonderful walk."
Master of Ceremonies at the Medway Dementia Action
Alliance Conference at Rochester Cathedral in May,
attended by Sports Minister and Kent MP, Tracy
The 'Stepping Out' project, created
by Kent Ramblers and sponsored by Sport England,
offers sociable and scenic walks for carers and the
people they care for at some of the most picturesque
venues in the country.
For more information on Goodnestone Park