Anne wears a striped shirt and sits outside with her beautiful labrador, they look off into the distance.

Awarded the 2021 Premier’s Victorian Senior of the Year Award - Anne Tudor

Anne Tudor has contributed for many years in myriad ways – locally, in Victoria, nationally and internationally – to increasing dementia awareness and understanding about the importance of inclusion and empathy in the community.

‘Anne’s grace, generosity and unrelenting commitment to make a difference to the lives of people impacted by dementia inspires all who meet her’ Maree McCabe, CEO of Dementia Australia said in nominating Anne.

Anne’s wife Edie Mayhew was diagnosed at age 59 and died of complications from younger onset dementia in 2020.

Since 2011, Anne and Edie committed together to sharing their story to help others

They committed to make a difference to the lives of people living with dementia and also to their families and carers. In 2011 they commenced their active membership of the Younger Onset Dementia Reference Group for Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria.

In 2013 Anne supported Edie to be an inaugural member Alzheimer’s Australia Advisory Committee, now called Dementia Australia Advisory Committee doing whatever they could to increase awareness and understanding about younger onset dementia – when a person is diagnosed under the age of 65.

Between 2013 to 2017 Anne, with Edie, presented their experience of dementia with an openness that resonated and had impact at numerous significant conferences and forums; in major media features; participated in research; and contributed to policy papers, reports and submissions. The list is long and the impact is far reaching.

Bigger Hearts

One of their most significant achievements was in 2016 when Anne and Edie were the driving force behind Bigger Hearts – the grassroots, community-driven campaign to inspire the citizens of Ballarat to commit to making their regional city dementia-friendly.

The Bigger Hearts model is now influencing the thinking and approach of many Australian communities with inclusion in the national Dementia-Friendly Communities program. Anne told us ‘Life had afforded opportunities and experiences which enabled us to advocate on behalf of people impacted by dementia, particularly those impacted by younger onset dementia.  In sharing our dementia story, the hope was that other families wouldn’t feel so isolated and alone; that care providers would see dementia within the context of relationships; that shame, stigma and discrimination often associated with dementia would disappear and be replaced with more empathic, open-hearted attitudes’.

It was clear that local communities needed to be more dementia inclusive, enabling and respectful and that dementia services needed to be more relevant, tailored, better educated and informed.

In 2017, when Dementia Australia formed by unifying the federation of Alzheimer's Australia, Anne joined the National Dementia Advocates Program and is still an active member.

Anne says ‘Something constructive needed to come from the challenge having both my mother and life-partner, Edie diagnosed with dementia’

‘Giving back to the community was inevitable given our educational and occupational backgrounds as well as the benefit we gained from Dementia Australia support, a local carers support group and a local younger onset dementia program for Edie’, Anne says.

When asked what motivates her to give back to the community, Anne told us ‘meeting other advocates impacted by dementia has been an ongoing inspiration. Advocacy was a way to support other families impacted by dementia, to change societal attitudes towards dementia, to contribute to improving services and to turn the travails of dementia into something into meaningful endeavours’.

Another significant piece of advocacy was in October 2019, when Anne was a compelling witness at the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, sharing her advocacy and experience with dementia as Edie’s carer within the aged care system, and as an LGBTI couple accessing the system and services.

Anne wears a striped shirt and sits with her labrador in a beautiful bushland setting.An Australian first

Anne’s proudest accomplishment is their participation in the development of Australia’s first Dementia-Friendly Forest and Sensory Trail in Ballarat’s Woowookarung Regional Park launched in June 2021. Anne and Edie inspired this wonderful initiative, together with the Alliance, Parks Victoria, people with dementia and care partners, the Trail offers a gentle and inclusive sensory experience.

Anne and Edie’s legacy is the resonating impact of many years of dementia advocacy across all levels of government and the wider community – ‘Anne and Edie have given so much to the community by sharing their story and ensuring other families impacted by dementia to know they are not alone and that services and supports are available’ said Maree McCabe, CEO of Dementia Australia.

What does it mean to you to be recognised as the Premier’s Victorian Senior of the Year?

Anne told us ‘At a personal level, I really don’t have the words. It’s overwhelming. At an advocacy level it’s exciting to consider the possibility of attention being drawn to dementia and the needs of those impacted by dementia. It would be amazing to have an opportunity to open up discussion about improving support and services for people impacted by dementia, even before diagnosis and continuing through to end-of-life care and beyond for the care partner.

Having a moment in time to emphasise dementia related issues in the general community and encouraging a more nuanced understanding of dementia would be a wonderful outcome. When someone is recognised for a significant contribution made, many others are intricately connected to this acknowledgement - people impacted by dementia, other advocates, generous volunteers, family and friends and those who dedicate their working lives to making a difference in improving the quality of life of others. This is what gives the nomination it’s true meaning.’

Congratulations Anne for your inspirational and tireless contribution to improving the lives of people affected by dementia.

Read more about the Victorian Senior of the Year Awards.