Who We Are
Suzanne is a professional singer, actor and dancer and has worked extensively in theatre, film and TV for over 20 years. Suzanne started working for DSES back in 2015 after a fateful meeting with the wonderful DSES Founder/Principal, Cliff Slack. Cliff's passion and enthusiasm to help those living with dementia was shared with Suzanne and together they have expanded the charity to reach out to as many people as possible in the East Sussex area. Suzanne still wonders in the power that music has over those living with dementia and she will never tire of seeing her clients faces light up when a certain favourite song is played! Suzanne is now Principal of DSES, and after securing charity status last year hopes to take this wonderful service from strength to strength.
Helen has over 25 years experience of working professionally in Musical Theatre in London, Paris and touring the UK.
Her love of music and dancing is apparent during her movement and music sessions.
Helen, who is also a vocal coach and runs her own Theatre school, THEATRIX in Rottingdean,
has a great deal of experience in seeing the joy that music and song can bring, the effect it can have on a person's mental health and the memories it can evoke.
She thoroughly enjoys her work for Dementia Support East Sussex and is passionate about raising awareness for this area.
There is nothing she enjoys more than encouraging someone out of their shell though the wonder of singing and believes that anybody can and should sing and whether old or young, on pitch or not, as the health benefits of singing are endless.
Since Gemma gate-crashed a ballet class, aged two, music, song and dance has been one of the most important things in her life. Sharing that love with people from all backgrounds has been a constant joy and practice. As a professional actress and singer since, she has enjoyed working in theatres across the UK and combined this with a teaching and coaching practice, working with people from 4 to 102!. Working with Dementia Support East Sussex has added a new delight to her life. Witnessing the joy and vitality that lights up the room during the sessions is priceless.
I have always enjoyed performing! I love to make people happy! I attended the Jacqueline Storey Theatre School and Shandy Stage School when I was younger. I worked as a singer in Spain and I have had the pleasure of working with several function bands and duos! I currently sing at Carehomes, Social Clubs and hotels! I really enjoy what I do!!
Lucy has a degree in Graphic Design from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, and an MA in Inclusive Arts Practice from University of Brighton. She has worked as a freelance designer and artist facilitator for over 20 years.
Lucy passionately believes that everyone is instinctively creative, and has the power to communicate through the artistic process. She is experienced working creatively with people in the late stages of dementia, in care home settings and day centres. Her creative practice is centred around the principles of working in the moment, fun, imaginative, sensory and non-verbal practice. Lucy is a Dementia Friends Champion, and a certified Timeslips Facilitator, she has completed Early-stage Dementia Awareness Training for arts facilitators with Arts 4 Dementia.
Lucy is currently running creative sessions online with groups she supports, and also runs one to one online creative and storytelling sessions.
. Testimonials .
I cannot speak highly enough of Suzanne and the entire team at Dementia Support East Sussex and the incredible work they do. Having attended various sessions in the capacity as film maker, I have had the pleasure to see the passion and dedication, this highly professional team bring. To see Dementia Sufferers faces light up with joy and participate in the music, it’s really like watching a miracle happen.
Shaun Taberer, CEO Digit Film and Media
I thank you, and give praise for your work. Unlike many visiting entertainers, where maintaining resident interest is a problem, Suzanne’s unique sessions of interactive song, dance and movement brings them alive, and is truly inspirational and stimulating. She speaks directly to each and every one, making them feel special. Her prodigious talent, and beautiful singing, is greatly appreciated by us all.
Sister Bonnie, Augustine Care, St George’s Park, Ditchling
We have had the benefit of having the DSES players visiting us at Milton Grange Day Centre in Eastbourne for the last 2 years. They come into the centre 3 times a month and our clients benefit from them presenting an hour and a half of sheer enjoyment.
They come in bringing their props, music, songbooks and enthusiasm. They all invest a lot of time and energy encouraging the clients to join in with a sing-a-long, they have an enormous amount of energy and have a definite flair for bringing the elderly clients out of themselves and even the people with limited mobility, memory loss and dementia, clap, tap their feet and become animated when they are with us.
They make extra special effort when a special event comes along and we have celebrated Royal Weddings, Christmas, Easter and sang Happy Birthday to staff, clients and visitors.
The group take extra time to get to know the clients and they know their names and individual personalities and take time to talk to them after the sing-a-long.
We understand that they have come to the end of their funding and we urge anyone who can to give them additional funds for a further period so that they can continue to come into us and enhance our client’s lives.
Janice Phillips, Intermediate Care Manager
Milton Grange Day Care and Mental Health Services
It is customary for a newly elected Chairman of Wealden District Council to select a charity to support and promote during the term of office. I had no hesitation; the choice for me was obvious. I was delighted to be able to promote Dementia Support East Sussex. (DSES)
It has been a joy to see the charity grow, to watch first-hand their amazing work and dedication to their mission, and to witness the difference they make to those living with dementia in our District.
Dementia is a growing problem so the work of DSES has proved to be invaluable to not only those living with dementia, also those who care for them.
Watching DSES communicate through song, dance, arts & crafts is extremely moving. One cannot help but be affected by their kindness, enthusiasm and professionalism as they strive to improve the lives of those people they love to serve.
Like us all, DSES faced challenges through lockdown but, with sheer dedication and hard work they continued to spread joy and laughter. During the summer months, when it was impossible to meet inside, they adapted by taking their sessions out to gardens and green spaces. These sessions not only entertained the people they visited, on one occasion a neighbour climbed a ladder to join in over the fence. Their sessions, which included a special Birthday Party to celebrate Captain Tom’s 100th birthday delivered much needed laughter and escapism not only to dementia sufferers, but also for those caring for them.
As summer turned to autumn DSES adapted again by delivering their activities online. Their popular Zoom sessions offer music and movement, Create and Chat sessions, and now they are delivering 1-1 calls/online sessions to offer a familiar voice to those who are really missing the social interaction in these difficult times.
DSES make a real difference to our community and I am extremely proud to support them.
Pam Doodes, Chair of Wealden District Council
Suzanne is very warm and engaging and makes people feel special. The songs from the past are very good for our clients with dementia as it helps them reminisce and feel empowered as they can remember the songs and join in.
Maureen Distin, Age We Care
My husband (who suffers from dementia) and I (as his carer) have been attending DSES sessions so well organised and with the most gifted, and talented actress/musician Suzanne since they started, at many of their venues. My husband so enjoys these sessions as Suzanne always puts a lot of effort and thought into each varied session and it is always fun with a lot of laughter involved. He loves the singing and dancing and always looks forward to going and it is nice for me to see him enjoying himself and watching his face light up and he finds it very therapeutic. Attending these sessions, and seeing so much happiness in people with dementia, is a joy.
Sue Wren – Wife/Carer