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Hello, my name is Katie and I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this. I'd like to start off by recognising that if you are here, there is a chance that you are going through a difficult time in your life and I hope that you are able to be as kind to yourself as you are to the people you love.

 

At the time of writing this, over 850,000 people in the UK are living with dementia so it is ever more important that we challenge the perceived societal norms of what it means to live with dementia whilst supporting each other with understanding, love and empathy.

 

My first encounter with dementia was with my Great Gran. She was the lady who always knew the answer. She knew how to make me laugh and how to make me feel better. Then all of a sudden, she didn't. My family were ever so supportive and did their best to explain why Gran had suddenly changed, but as a child I did not understand and felt hurt when my Gran no longer recognised me. I am certain this resonates with so many little bears who are living a similar story.

 

 

 

 

This experience no doubt lead me towards becoming a physiotherapist specialised in supporting people living with dementia. I have had the privilege of spending time with many wonderful people and their families on their journey, which is unique to them and their loved ones. But as Covid crept into our lives and meeting in person became impossible, I felt inspired to create a story which could continue to support people with love and compassion.

 

As we locked down I welcomed Big Bear and Little Bear into my world. They, along with Doctor Bear, who I look forward to introducing to you later, identify with no particular gender, race or age as dementia does not care for these things. I created the characters in this way to ensure that this book is as inclusive as possible and that any lovely little bear could use this book to relate to their personal and unique situation.

 

I approached the fabulous illustrator, Iain Welch, with the concept and he brought the bears to life so beautifully. Creating the story of these wonderful bears injected such joy into some of the darkest days whilst working on the Covid wards so far from friends and family.

I would be thrilled if this book goes a small way towards building communities and generations of people who are kind, empathetic and understanding towards people and their loved ones who are living with dementia, and I do hope these lovely bears bring you as much comfort and joy as they brought to me and my inner child.

 

I think the important thing to remember is that your feelings are valid, and the loves, laughs and memories are always stored safely in a Big Bears heart.

 

Your Big Bear loves you just the same.

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