Twelve years ago, I really couldn’t have imagined the event that took place on Friday 21st October in Blackpool. Well over 300 people, all dressed in their party best, gathered together at the Hilton for a night celebrating their commitment to enhancing dementia care; this was Blackpool’s first Butterfly Ball!

Through the Trust’s Blue Skies charity, funds were being raised for their Peace of Mind appeal, which provides a range of enhancements to dementia care in the area’s hospitals. The organisers of the ball, supported by “Team Butterfly” (@teambutterfly0 on Twitter), were Francesca and Shelley, who had put in months of work to make this a fabulous night. They kindly invited me to be guest of honour at the event and asked me to give a speech about the Butterfly Scheme, Team Butterfly and the charity – but can you imagine anyone wanting to listen to that speech after a three-course dinner, a certain amount of wine and before a night of dancing? Well, listen they did; the entire room suddenly went quiet and everyone listened so attentively. What a team!

There were Butterflies everywhere: Butterfly balloons, Butterfly moving lights, Butterfly place-cards, puddings with Butterfly decorations (and which cleverly incorporated the “me” in “dementia”), Butterflies in hair-ornaments and even on Fran’s dress and shoes! Bobby Ball and Anne Nolan generously gave their whole evening to support the event and draw the raffle.

Despite there being so much to admire and be glad about, the biggest impression that remains with me is of the very many individuals who approached me throughout the evening to tell me their own story about dementia, their commitment, their passion for dementia care; the fact that they made that effort and really wanted to share their stories meant an enormous amount to me. Yes, they were thoroughly enjoying their night out, but their hearts were in dementia care and this was a real celebration of that passion.

Thank you again to Fran and Shelley, but also to every single person who was part of that evening. All of us want advances in dementia care to happen immediately, if not yesterday, but Blackpool’s Butterfly Ball spoke volumes for the progress that has been made so far and for the passion that will carry it safely forward.