The sun is beaming through the conservatory in Brunelcare’s ABC Centre, Bristol. In the background the weekly singing group can be heard, as tenants enthusiastically sing songs from 'The Sound of Music'.
Before she joins in the sing-song, we enjoy a quick cup of tea and a chat with one of our much-loved tenants, Jacqui Tunnicliff, who recently became the focus of national attention when she appeared on ‘The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes’.
Jacqui was one of 14 volunteers who took part in the popular reality show, a 4-part series which aired on Channel 4 in June this year. The aim of the show was to challenge and change society’s perception of people living with dementia. The volunteers, who ranged from 23 years to 67 years, were guided by michelin-star chef, Josh Eggleton, throughout the process. The restaurant hosted famous diners such as Hugh Bonneville, Rachel Riley and David Badiel, who helped raise the programme’s profile. Like her fellow volunteers, Jacqui cites her reason for applying to ‘The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes’ to help raise awareness and change the way people perceive those living with Dementia.
We start by asking Jacqui what the response has been like since the show aired, Jacqui laughs and recalls a recent trip to the beach.
“I was in Brean and a stranger came up to me and said ‘I’m so proud of you, we’ve been watching you’! Everybody’s been so positive, it’s brilliant. It was well worth it”.
The night the first episode aired, the team at the ABC Centre, with Jacqui’s fellow tenants and friends, organised a party to celebrate. Jacqui admits she was slightly apprehensive about what to expect.
“We didn’t have a clue what it was going to come back like, when you’re filming you have no idea... then when you see it, it’s nothing like I thought it would be”.
“It was brilliant, so worth doing. Every single moment I would do again. They were a good crowd and we all helped each other out.”
We ask Jacqui what the most challenging part of the show was for her.
“As you know I couldn’t do the cooking, no idea with the cooking! If you ask me to cook something I am the first person to say ‘Let’s go out for a meal’. I couldn’t cook before dementia...it’s nothing to do with dementia!” Jacqui laughs
Jacqui, who spent her career as a criminal lawyer protecting vulnerable children, admits she still gets asked for her advice and expertise.
“I was a criminal lawyer... it was a very intense job, you become very determined to get things done. I still get phone calls saying ‘What would you do, what do you think about this one...I’m really stuck’. Which is quite nice”.
Since the show, Jacqui has been visiting schools to educate children about Dementia, she is focused on continuing to raise the profile of this cause.
“I’m doing the schools now - speaking to children about Dementia. I’ll carry on doing this for a while and see where that goes then maybe I’ll do another one (TV programme). I’m not working now, so...why not! Anything that helps to raise the profile of our cause, I’m willing”.
Finally, we ask Jacqui what her life motto is.
“Just be kind, there’s no need to be unkind. Just be nice to one another and enjoy yourselves”.
We wholeheartedly agree, thank you Jacqui.
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