My sister Alice was born in Glasgow on 20 August 1952 with Down's and Turner's syndromes, but the Turner's syndrome wasn't diagnosed until she was an adult.
There was no school for Alice in Glasgow, but from age 9 she went to a day centre. She had a good memory and could give anybody directions to take her there - and home again.
Mencap's services were a great part of Alice's life. There was a Gateway Club in Walthamstow which she went to and did all sorts of activities, from domestic sciences, to swimming and camping.
As a young adult, Alice attended Walthamstow's adult learning centre; a place she looked forward to going every morning. She was able to do some work here, and got a wage A wage is the money you get for doing a paid job. packet. I remember one job she had to do was putting pieces into backgammon sets for a mail order catalogue. Other jobs included making bathmats and stools.
Alice threw her pay packet on the floor one week because there was only one coin in it; she'd had a good week, which took her wages up to 50p, but she saw that as just one coin and felt short-changed!
Saturdays could be a disappointment (the day centre was only open Monday to Friday) except for the monthly Mencap Gateway Social. 'Social' doesn't do it justice, 'party' is maybe closer; Alice would dance the night away!
After moving to Pembrokeshire in 1986, Alice went to a day centre in Newcastle Emlyn. She would go horse riding at Dyfed Riding Centre and attended the Mencap Gateway Club in Cardigan. Alice was also a keen swimmer until her later deterioration, which included her developing a fear of water.
After our Dad died in 1998, Alice and our Mum moved to Essex. When Mum's health declined in 2009, Alice moved in to residential care.
Alice was well supported in every place she lived. Her final home was Rowans Care Ltd, by which time she's couldn't do anything for herself but was given first class full care by the dedicated staff of the home. They made sure Alice always looked neat and tidy; she was well dressed in clean clothes and her hair always looked fresh from the hairdressing salon.
Most importantly, the staff kept her safe and comfortable throughout her final years and, although non-verbally by the end, she still had little ways of confirming her appreciation for her carers.
At Alice's funeral, we decided to ask friends and family for donations to Mencap in her memory. We all hope that these donations will help Mencap's work in continuing to protect people like Alice from the tragedy of being denied the care they need.
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Making a donation to Mencap in memory of a loved one is a special way to remember them.