Dementia book shortlisted for £10,000 prize

Dementia book shortlisted for £10,000 prize

A fresh approach to dementia has earned an Aberdeen academic a nomination for a prestigious literary award which comes with a £10,000 prize.

Professor John Swinton has been shortlisted for the Michael Ramsey Prize for his book Dementia: Living in the Memories of God.

It is the first time that an academic from the University of Aberdeen has been nominated for the award - the Man Booker of theology - which celebrates the most promising contemporary theological writing.

Professor Swinton is a former mental health nurse and hospital chaplain and says the theological dimension to the study of dementia emerged from his practical background.

“Through my work as a mental health nurse I have spent a lot of time with people who have different ways of seeing the world,” he added.

“The book brings together my nursing and chaplaincy background in a theological context. It reconstructs dementia in a more positive way from being tragic to being surprisingly hopeful.

“The book is a practical theology of dementia for caregivers, people with dementia, ministers, hospital chaplains, and medical practitioners.”

Professor Swinton said his nomination for the award came out of the blue but was a ‘very pleasant surprise’.

“To be included in the shortlist is a great acknowledgement of the important, innovative and topical research going on in Aberdeen,” he said.

“I am delighted that a nomination for the Michael Ramsey Prize has brought attention to this important area of dementia study.”

The Prize will be judged by a panel including Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Caterbury and the broadcaster and writer Sally Magnusson. The winner, to be announced in August, will receive an award of £10,000 with £1,000 for each of the shortlisted authors.

Esteemed theologian Professor Stanley Hauerwas, who wrote the foreword for the book, said Professor Swinton’s nomination reflected the high quality of his work.

He said: “John Swinton has become the premier pastoral theologian of our time and that has been recognised by the shortlisting panel for the Michael Ramsey Prize.

“In this book he approaches the topic of dementia with a thoroughness and level of enagement which will ensure Dementia: Living in the Memories of God will become a classic.”