I am mindful that others will wish to say a few words about Richard Taylor Ph.D., so I’ll try to keep my contribution brief.
A short while ago, I had come to know that Richard did not have long to live. That’s why Kate starting her section of our event in Camden was all the more poignant to her – and to me. Kate was in tears at the end of it. Beth handed her a tissue.
Even this morning Kate told me that Richard was her hero.
Kate Swaffer is certainly not one to use language casually.
When I came to learn of Richard’s passing away a few days ago, I still was shocked, but not surprised. I did not ‘expect’ Richard’s imminent death. Even Richard had posted a few days ago on how he was looking forward to moving into his hospice.
I occasionally would find that Richard had shared my book ‘Living better with dementia’.
Kate sent me a copy of her manuscript “What the hell happened to my brain?” in early January (2015). Kate was really looking forward to Richard’s Foreword for the book. The book is amazing, by the way.
I should like to say that I have never met Richard. But he touched many of our lives. As a Co-founder of the Dementia Alliance International, he took on one of the greatest injustices of the policy world.
That the people who represent dementia the best are not Big Charity, CEOs, academics and researchers, physicians and psychiatrists, psychologists, social work practitioners.. or even carers.
The people who best represent dementia are people living with dementia.
There should never be any more the refrain that ‘we couldn’t find anyone with dementia’ – there are 47 million people living with dementia in the world.
Richard identified how Big Charity used stigma to raise monies. This was a massive breakthrough in our thinking. Richard would turn up at international conferences to explain he was fed up that ‘people with dementia were being used’.
Richard would say, “I want to think how I am to live with dementia, not to die from dementia.”
I would never pretend that I ‘knew’ Richard. There are some people who knew him really well. Mick Carmody, whom I ‘zoomed’ yesterday, was in a state of shock.
But Richard had many brilliant qualities.
Assertive, not aggressive, Richard was highly principled.
People knew Richard’s boundaries, and he knew theirs.
Overall, having lost now a humble, and most talented individual, the living world is much the poorer.
We have lost one of our very best advocates for living with dementia, but I’ve always said that anything can happen to anyone at any time.
It’s for others to rise to the challenge, and make sure that Richard’s hope lives on in the difficult years to come.