Older people’s ambassador honoured with Dementia Care Award

published on 4 Jul 2024

A Salvation Army dementia ambassador has been recognised for her awareness raising work at the National Dementia Care Awards. 

Ali Thornton-Dean, The Salvation Army’s Outreach Mission Partner for older people, was named finalist for a Dementia Outreach Award at a ceremony held at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London. The awards acknowledge incentives that support people affected by dementia and rewards the people who have made a real difference in the field. 

Ali was honoured for her longstanding dementia outreach work in Salvation Army churches and centres across the UK and for being a national lead for the dementia friendly Singing by Heart Programme, which enables people with dementia to communicate, encourages them to recall good times and have fun through a mixture of secular and religious songs. Over 100 churches and centres across the UK now run Singing by Heart. 

Ali, who was nominated by The Salvation Army’s Older People’s Services Director, Glenda Roberts, said: “I couldn’t believe that I had got to the final. The event itself was unlike anything I had ever been part of. There was beautiful food, and I had a wonderful time with colleagues who came to support me. It was a great night and we all dressed up for what was a black-tie event. It is something I will always remember.


Dementia Care Awards
Andrew, Ali and Glenda

“In a ministry role we don’t need an award to work for God. However, I felt very blessed and encouraged that the work that I have done and continue to do was recognised by my director and the passion that I have for those living with dementia and their families was seen.”

Ali started working for the church and charity’s Older People’s Ministries in 2016. She is a dementia ambassador for The Salvation Army, advising on dementia awareness for churches and communities, helping make spaces more dementia friendly, and inspiring ministries to supporting people in having conversations about end of life and everything in between. Ali has taught dementia information sessions to hundreds of people in the UK and beyond. 

She has also written resources on older age and leads training sessions and courses for local leaders in The Salvation Army. 

Members of Ali’s own family live with dementia and while she sees the distress the condition can bring, she said: “Having the knowledge to deal with this in the best way changes people’s lives and helps our loved ones to live as well as possible with dementia.”  

Andrew Wileman,The Salvation Army’s Assistant Director of Older People’s Services, said: “Ali is an outstanding practitioner, whether that be as a national and international lead on Singing by Heart or offering sensitive leadership on dementia awareness for people living with dementia.”


An employment plus worker with long blonde hair sits next to a young woman who is looking intently at the laptop screen as the Salvation Army worker gives her instructions. The young woman has long dark hair and is wearing a smart navy dress.

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