A 29-year-old dementia care worker and social media enthusiast last night saw off a host of media heavyweights to be crowned winner of winners at the Older People in the Media Awards 2013.

In a prestigious shortlist which boasted a range of national media outlets such as BBC1’s Panorama, Channel 4’s Dispatches and BBC News, a young dementia care worker and relative social media newcomer, Darren Gormley, took home the night’s top prize.

Darren Gormley’s blog, Making Dementia Care Personal, which he has been penning since April 2013, outlines his personal experiences of working with dementia patients and was praised by the event’s judges for being “engaging”, “insightful” and “positive”.

“This isn’t a big institution throwing money at a project, or someone being paid to do a job,” said Independent Age Chief Executive, and Chair of Judges, Janet Morrison. “This is someone who goes to work, does a demanding job as a care worker, and in the evening comes home and writes something touching and real, with a unique voice and compassionate perspective.”

The award was one of 10 given out at a special ceremony held in central London and hosted by Gavin & Stacey star, Larry Lamb. Larry said of the awards: “As a signed up member of the seniors club I am thrilled to have been asked to present these fantastic awards last night”.

Darren said of his win: “I feel completely overwhelmed by the whole experience. Even just being shortlisted was a massive achievement for me -I’ve only been writing a blog since April. What makes me most proud is that I spend every day in the homes of the people living with dementia and to be able to share that unique one-to-one experience – not just about how I care for people but how they care for me. Combined with a global audience it’s so powerful and the response I’ve received online and through social media, particularly from family carers of people with dementia has been overwhelming - they’ve really been the ones driving the blog. I am so proud. I can’t wait to take these awards to the people I visit and show them that their stories really matter and there are people who want to listen and celebrate them.”

The awards are organised by older people’s charity, Independent Age and sponsored by care provider, Barchester Healthcare and aim to shine a light on coverage which has either positively portrayed older people or sensitively highlighted the issues they face.

The Winners of last night’s Older People in the Media Awards were:

1) Best factual newspaper or magazine article about older people’s issues

• Highly commended:The Guardian, Family: Did I do the right thing? by Louise Smith

• Winner: The Guardian, Weekend: When elderly care goes wrong, by Amelia Gentleman

2) Best use of photography to illustrate older people’s issues

• Highly commended: Sun City, by Kendrick Brinson. A series of photos documenting the lives of a community of pensioners who are living life to the full in Arizona’s Sun City, carried by the Mail Online

• Winner: The long goodbye, by Susan Falzone. Haunting pictures capturing the final days of Susan’s aunt with Alzheimer’s, published by the Mail Online

3) Best coverage of issues around dementia (Barchester special award)

• Highly commended: BBC Radio Kent, the Dementia Diaries

• Winner: The Sunday Times: My mother and dementia, by Richard Girling

4a) Best factual new media content (written) about older people’s issues

• Winner Darren Gormley: Making dementia care personal

4b) Best factual new media content (video) about older people’s issues

• Highly commended: BBC News, Magazine (online): Meet the world’s oldest hip hop dance crew, by Mauricio Olmedo-Perez

• Winner: Social Care Institute for Excellence: getting to know the person with dementia – the impact of diagnosis

5) Best factual radio programme about older people’s issues

• Highly commended: The Why Factor, BBC World Service: ageing

• Winner: Julia George, BBC Radio Kent: Is old age something to dread, or can it be fun?

6) Best independent voice on older people’s issues (Independent Age special award)

• Winner: Beth Britton

7) Best older person’s character in a film, TV or radio drama (Gransnet special award, voted on by the readers of Gransnet)

• Winner: Anne Reid for Celia in Last Tango in Halifax

8) Best factual TV programme about older people’s issues

• Highly commended: BBC1: Panorama, Old, drunk and disorderly?

• Winner: BBC1: Golden Oldies

9) ‘The Thorn Award’: worst example of stereotyping, factual error or misleading information in the coverage of older people’s issues.

• Winner: Nick Robertson, Asos CEO, for suggesting his high-profile fashion director had quit because she was too old for the online clothes business at 56

Overall award winner

• Winner: Darren Gormley: Making dementia care personal

More information on the Older People in the Media Awards 2013, including full details of shortlisters and winners can be found at www.independentage.org

Notes to editor

About Independent Age

Founded 150 years ago, Independent Age is a growing charity helping older people across the UK and Ireland through the ‘A, B, C’ of advice, befriending and campaigning. We offer a national telephone and email advice service focusing on social care, welfare benefits and befriending services, which is supported by a wide range of printed guides and factsheets. This is integrated with on-the-ground, local support, provided by a network of over 1,500 volunteers offering one-to-one and group befriending.

For more information, visit our website www.independentage.org For media inquiries contact Rebecca Law on 020 7605 4291 or email rebecca.law@independentage.org Speak to one of our advisers for free and confidential advice and information. Lines are open Monday to Friday between 10am - 4pm. Call 0845 262 1863 or email advice@independentage.org

About Barchester Healthcare:

Barchester Healthcare is recognised as a UK major care provider, committed to delivering high-quality care. At Barchester Healthcare we pride ourselves on our dedicated dementia care.

Our Memory Lane Communities are designed to encourage people living with dementia to stay as independent and active as possible. We understand that no two people are the same and take a person-centred care approach, recognising and celebrating each person's individuality.

Barchester Healthcare has adapted and grown, expanding from a focus on older people needing nursing care in high quality environments to providing personalised support for adults with a range of disabilities, and of all ages.

Barchester employs more than 17,000 people to care for more than 10,000 residents in more than 200 locations in the UK. The care provider is also proud to be the only care provider to make the Sunday Times 25 Best Big Companies 2013 list.

For more information, please visit www.barchester.com

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