Coventry Alzheimers Society founder Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Hunter passes away

Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Hunter, co-founder of The Coventry Alzheimers Society, has passed away at the age of 89.

Betty was born in Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin in 1932, and grew up in a loving family with four sisters and four brothers.

She arrived in Coventry in 1964 with her husband Tommy and a young family, and settled in the Earlsdon area of Coventry.

In the early 1970s Betty was an active member of the All Souls church parish in Chapelfields, becoming a member of the All Souls Development Association, a church-based charitable support group.

After raising her family of six sons, Betty started work as a part-time carer for Coventry City Council, initially based at Aldermoor Lodge in Stoke Aldermoor

Whilst working there, she had a chance meeting with the then Director of Coventry Social Services Mr Tom White, who was visiting to undertake an inspection.

Whilst there, he observed Betty providing care to an elderly patient and was impressed by the dignified way in which Betty administered the care.

The following Mr White arranged for Betty to undertake formal training, which subsequently lead to Betty becoming a fully qualified Social Worker some years later.

Once qualified, Betty progressed through numerous roles withing the council eventually managing several care homes including George Rowley House in Canley for many years

During this period, Betty became a Founder Member of Coventry Branch of the Alzheimer’s Society, an illness that was not well understood in those early days.

Over the years, Betty worked with Professor Graham Stokes, who subsequently went on to become a nationally recognised expert in Dementia Care provision.

During this period George Rowley House, which was managed by Betty, became the first residential care home in the city to pilot a pioneering dementia unit, as a collaboration between NHS and Social Care.

Betty and Graham were responsible for the training in this very successful pilot scheme, which helped to develop the understanding and best practice for the treatment of dementia patients across the city.

Betty retired from the Council in 1992. However, she was subsequently asked to return on a couple of occasions to provide support and training to several care homes in Earlsdon and Tile Hill.

In 1995, Betty launched her own business, Care Associates.

The company has since specialised in providing highly-trained staff to support elderly clients who require care at home, with particular emphasis on caring for those with dementia.

This family business has gone from strength to strength and continues to employee many of the original team who joined the company over 20 years ago.

Over the years, Professor Stokes remained a close friend returning to Coventry on a number of occasions to visit Care Associates.

Uniquely, he provided invaluable further training in dementia care to staff at Care Associates thus benefiting countless families across the city who relied on them for the care of their loved ones.

Proud of her roots, Betty was a member of the Coventry Irish Society.

She featured in the ‘Coventry Heart Irish Home’ exhibition arranged by the Society’s Simon McCarthy at the Herbert Art Gallery in 2018.

This event can be viewed on You Tube (see above) and provides a fascinating insight into the journey that so many of Betty’s generation took as they left Ireland to set up a new life in Coventry.

During her own personal battle with Alzheimer’s disease, Betty was cared for by many of the same staff whom she had trained at Care Associates many years before.

Betty passed away peacefully at home with her family at her bedside.

A requiem mass for Betty was held for Betty at All Souls church Coventry on Tuesday 30 November before Betty returns home to Dun Laoghaire for a funeral mass and burial with her beloved husband Tommy who passed away in 2012.

The funeral mass took place at St Michaels Church, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin on Thursday 2 December at 12:00.

The family have also set up a Just Giving page for the Alzheimer’s Society.

As one family member put it: “Betty is still supporting people with Alzheimer’s – even now”.

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