Thank you Fred

Our thoughts today at the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia are with Ann, her children and grandchildren. On July 30 they lost their husband, father, grandfather, Fred West. We lost a volunteer, an advocate, a friend.

Ann and Fred West stand on the balcony of their Halifax condo, 2012. (INGRID BULMER /Chronicle Herald Staff)
Ann and Fred West stand on the balcony of their Halifax condo, 2012. (INGRID BULMER /Chronicle Herald Staff)


Fred was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease 21 years ago, at the age of 58. He and Ann sought medical advice and treatments. They would tell you – and have in various forms of media – that they benefitted from regular exercise and socialization, and credit those things along with learning about the disease and a prescription that worked for Fred, as some of the reasons Fred lived so long with dementia.

Fred was a volunteer board member for the Society in Nova Scotia and for the Alzheimer Society of Canada; he was the face of two Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation Molly Appeal’s and he volunteered to wear a wrist GPS for the Halifax Regional Police during a pilot program. And so much more.

Right by his side was Ann. She appeared in media interviews, sat on committees, enrolled them in our exercise pilot program and artful afternoon, spoke at our Awareness Breakfast and headed up to Ottawa to talk about a National Dementia Strategy. Together they have been an unbeatable team.

My colleagues and I have been so fortunate to see the impact of the West’s grace and dignity and today we join together in remembrance of our times working with Fred.

I first met Ann and Fred in 2008 shortly after I started working at the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia. Fred, was the first person I had ever met who had Alzheimer’s disease. I am so fortunate to have had him as a model of what dementia can look like; it was different from the stereotypes you see on scripted t.v. shows, or the stories that played out on the nightly news. And of course, his unique journey was just that: unique.

Back to 2008, Fred had just finished up volunteering on the board of the Society, and I was looking to grow our annual Walk, one of my main responsibilities. I asked around for who might be best to approach to be in a video, not quite knowing yet the concept. I was introduced to Fred and immediately knew what the video would be. You can watch it here

Over the years Fred and Ann have been so gracious about sharing their story, to help others who are facing the realities of living with dementia. You can watch more videos with them:

Looking back over the years of working with Fred, his advocacy and willingness to be open about his disease, is something I am proud to have played a very, very small role in.

But what will stick with me most, will be his smile. The moment you made eye contact with Fred, his face would light up and you could do nothing in return, but to give a big smile back. Thank you Fred for all that you did to give a voice to this disease, but also for always making me feel welcomed when I came asking for you and Ann to be in ONE more video, ONE more promotional photo, do ONE more media interview, with that welcoming smile.

- Sarah Lyon, Director, Philanthropy

Last Updated: 10/17/2018