Advocates Advisory Board members

Kathy Ryan

Kathy Ryan was diagnosed with younger onset Alzheimer's in January 2014 at the age of 53. Kathy is a mother to two boys and is from Cashel Co.Tipperary. She is the vice chair of the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland’s Irish Dementia Working Group. Kathy is a passionate advocate for promoting the mental health well being of all. Kathy has got involved in this work as she wants to break down the stigma and create awareness of dementia.

Ann Twomey

Ann Twomey, a former Carer, was Co-Founder, with four health care professionals from the Kinsale Primary Care Team, of the K-CoRD project (Kinsale Community Response to Dementia) one of 4 pilot sites in the Genio Dementia Programme 2012-2015 which was funded by Atlantic Philanthropies and the HSE through the Genio Trust. The findings of this project will inform the Irish National Dementia Strategy. Ann represented K-CoRD {which is a member of COLLAGE (Collaboration on Ageing) Ireland's 3 Star Reference Site in the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing EIP-AHA} at the bi-annual meetings of the D4 Group (Age Friendly Environments) of the EIP-AHA in Brussels and was invited to present at the eHealth Forum of the EU Greek Presidency in Athens, May 2014 to highlight the project as an example for scaling up. In addition to supporting the DNNI Advocates Advisory Board, Ann is currently a Committee member of the Dementia Carers Campaign Network (DCCN) of the Alzheimer Society Ireland. The aim of the DCCN is to represent and raise awareness on the specific supports needed by Carers of people living with dementia and to campaign for policy change.

Gary Boyle

Gary Boyle lives in Dublin with his wife Joan, son Daire and daughter Bronwyn. Gary enjoyed a wonderful career in Human Resources with a large U.S. multinational, working at the leading edge of HR, both in Ireland and also for a couple of years in the U.S. Then, in 2009, life changed utterly for Gary when he received a diagnosis of ‘Young Onset’ Parkinson’s Disease – a deteriorating health problem that was as unexpected as it is rare for any 44 year old. The following 5 years proved increasingly difficult as Gary’s health worsened, and, given the state of his health by the end of 2015, Gary was admitted onto his employer’s ‘Income Protection’ insurance plan. The impact of this change in status for Gary has been quite dramatic. He has embraced the positive benefits of exercise in a way that has quite literally transformed his life. Gary has become a champion for an ‘inter-disciplinary’ approach in dealing with Parkinson’s, and indeed all neurological conditions. For Gary the combination of exercise, diet, medication and rest, along with the loving support of Joan, Daire and Bronwyn, is what keeps him sane, happy and healthy – deteriorating neurological condition aside! Gary has made it his mission to drive Patient Advocacy forward so that in all medical consultations the Patient is always placed first; is always considered the expert in whatever condition is diagnosed. The frustrations Gary may sometimes experience with his mission in life are all forgotten when he listens to music, especially Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin; when he gets on his bike and cycles through the Phoenix Park, or when he goes for a run with brother and best buddy, Patrick.

Dr. Helen Rochford-Brennan

Helen Rochford-Brennan is the current Chairperson of the European Working Group of People with Dementia and is the group’s nominee to the Board of Alzheimer Europe; she is former Chair of the Irish Dementia Working Group. Helen is on the Monitoring Committee of Ireland’s first National Dementia Strategy and a Global Dementia Ambassador. Throughout her time with these organisations she has campaigned to raise awareness of dementia through a Rights based approach, to the media, speaking at international conferences, engaging with pharma, scientists, clinicians, educators, students and many research projects from developing evidence–based diagnosis to palliative care. Helen was diagnosed after a five year struggle with Early Onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 62 and has since written very personally about living with Alzheimer type of dementia. She hopes her participation in research will one day help find a cure. Despite her pain of coping with short term memory on a daily basis she continues to volunteer with support trying to make the change she wants to see in the world. Throughout Helen’s life she has been a Rights and Social Justice Campaigner and today advocates for the Rights of People with Dementia in particular Alzheimer’s disease. Helen has received awards for her advocacy work and last year was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the National University of Ireland Galway. She has contributed to books: - Dementia and Human Rights: Suzanne Cahill. - Global Perspectives on Legal Capacity Reform - Our Voices Our Stories: Centre for Disability and Law NUI Galway. - Hear/say Global Stories of Aging and Connections: Global Brain Health UCSF/Trinity College Helen is currently collaborating on books with Salford and Hull Universities and a documentary film for GBHI (Global Brain Health Institute) on life with Dementia. Creating awareness of Dementia in her community and throughout Ireland plus enjoyment with her family and friends is her greatest joy.

Geraldine and Richard Ford

Richard hails from Bristol in the UK but moved to Ireland and lived in Kerry for 6 years, he then moved to Dublin. He met his wife Ger, who hails from Limerick, in 1976. Richard worked in construction but subsequently took over the rearing of his two, now grown, daughters (23 and 25). Ger worked in banking until 2010, she is Richard's carer and best friend! Richard was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease following foot surgery. He subsequently joined the Parkinson's Association and has an interest in dementia and related illnesses. It was through their connection to the Parkinson's Association that Richard and Ger came to support DNNI, they are happy to support any group which draws awareness to the Parkinson's condition.