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Exeter COSY Routes to appear on BBC’s Songs of Praise

Published: 12 May 2021

Exeter Cosy Routes Exeter Cosy Routes

The hills, valleys, and viewpoints around Exeter get a national television spotlight this weekend (Sunday 16 May) on the BBC’s Songs of Praise.

Hosted by presenter Aled Jones, one of several projects chosen for the programme was Exeter COSY Routes, launched last year by the City Council-backed Exeter Dementia Action Alliance.

The Cosy project is a mapped 26.2-mile marathon distance route around the city, comprising eight shorter circular routes of between four and seven miles.

It was created by keen runner and walker Jo Earlam, a board member of the alliance, and with experience of dementia through three generations of family. Both her late grandmothers and father Bernard had dementia in later life, and now her husband John is living with the disease.

In one of the interviewees for the filming that took place on Topsham Quay, Jo said: “To have such a prestigious platform as Songs of Praise, to talk about dementia, its impact on people who live with the condition, and those who love them and care for them, was a huge honour. Dementia affects so many people’s lives, I welcome it being more widely covered by the media. It was unusual talking about faith, which for me is quite personal, but a wonderful opportunity to share what inspires me.”

Gina Awad, Founder and lead of EDAA and Jo connected several years ago through their shared passion for making a difference in the lives of people with dementia and their families as well raising awareness and inspiring action.

In September Gina & Jo got together to reflect on ideas for a new initiative that could be accessible for everyone as well as people with dementia and their families and would involve the outdoors and opportunity to enjoy nature. Shortly after, Exeter COSY routes was born.

Varying from four to seven miles, these routes all have their own character, points of interest, history and are part of the unfolding and growing picture of the city. Each route has a dementia accessible suggestion, which may be a short stroll, picnic stop, or viewpoint.

Due to the pandemic the initiative had to be delayed but it has worked out for the better, enabling the alliance to share the routes just in time for Dementia Action week on Monday 17 May, with restrictions easing, and warmer weather hopefully on the way.

An added bonus was the alliance receiving a recent approach by Songs of Praise who were keen to share Jo’s inspiration behind COSY routes. You can see Jo, her husband John and Adrian and Jill living with dementia feature on the programme.

EDAA have a number of local sponsors for the individual routes as well as the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation who are the lead sponsor supporting the whole route. 

The Exeter Chiefs Foundation is supportive of the project for the local community and has funded the signposting leaflet which is due out in a couple of months.

Tony Husband, Cartoonist for Private Eye has collaborated with the alliance again and created a number of unique cartoons to accompany a significant point of interest on each of the eight routes.

Gina, lead of the alliance said: “We have high hopes with our vision for the COSY routes and invite  people to share their pictures, stories or reflections being out in nature and enjoying our wonderful city and green space. Whilst being outside is vital for us all for people with dementia it’s even more crucial.

Route sponsors are: Haines Watts; Southern Healthcare; Stonehaven care group;

Green Tree Court; Cumberland Grange care home (due to open its doors officially at the end of August);Rodney Spiller Wealth Management.

Exeter COSY routes will feature on Songs of Praise at 1.15pm on Sunday 16 May or catch up with it on BBC iPlayer.

For more information and full route details visit

You can find out more about EDAA


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