‘We’ll be celebrating as a big group of friends’ – dementia café turns 10

Arts and crafts is one of the regular activities offered at the Wymondham Dementia Support Group Caf

Arts and crafts is one of the regular activities offered at the Wymondham Dementia Support Group Cafes. Photo: Phil Whiscombe - Credit: Archant

It is 11am on a Friday morning and Fairland Church Hall in Wymondham is bursting at the rafters for Wymondham Dementia Support's weekly Pabulum café.

Members of the Wymondham Dementia Support Group on an outing to the Norfolk Broads. Photo: Phil Whis

Members of the Wymondham Dementia Support Group on an outing to the Norfolk Broads. Photo: Phil Whiscombe - Credit: Archant

Among the throng is Joan (name changed) from Wymondham, a warm and considered woman with a Norwich City season ticket and mean golf swing.

Ten years ago Joan's partner was diagnosed with a rare form of dementia called posterior cortical atrophy, which can lead to visual impairment, mood changes and trouble recognising faces.

Joan said: 'Nothing is normal when someone you love has dementia. It impinges on their ability to dress themselves, to wash, to pick up a cup of coffee.

'There is frustration on both sides of the relationship, especially in the early stages because they are aware of things they can no longer do.'

Members of the Wymondham Dementia Support Group play chess at a Monday morning Cafe. Photo: Phil Whi

Members of the Wymondham Dementia Support Group play chess at a Monday morning Cafe. Photo: Phil Whiscombe - Credit: Archant


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For Joan, the bi-weekly café is a lifeline, connecting her to a community which understand the demands of caring for a loved one with dementia.

She said: 'Eventually, as the disease progresses your relationship completely disintegrates.

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'You lose friends because convincing your partner to leave the house can be impossible. I would go round the bend if it wasn't for this place.'

Every week experienced therapists run group counselling sessions for carers, while a team of volunteers facilitate a range of activities for their partners.

Members celebrate at the Wymondham Dementia Support Group Christmas party. Photo: Phil Whiscombe

Members celebrate at the Wymondham Dementia Support Group Christmas party. Photo: Phil Whiscombe - Credit: Archant

Trevor Brown was one of the founding volunteers and over the past decade has developed the programme.

A sports and leisure club runs three times a month offering table tennis, curling and bean bag bulls-eye as well as regular poetry, singing and crafts sessions.

Mr Brown said many people with dementia are far more capable than they outwardly appear.

He said: 'We had one gentleman who sat unresponsive the first five times he came until we discovered he was a keen chess player.

A team of volunteers from the Wymondham Dementia Group transformed neglected land into a 'Happiness

A team of volunteers from the Wymondham Dementia Group transformed neglected land into a 'Happiness Garden'. Photo: Phil Whiscombe - Credit: Archant

'Now we get the board out every week and so far not a single volunteer has been able to beat him.'

On Friday March 8 the group will turn 10 and group organiser Dianne Fernee said she was looking forward to 'celebrating in style' at Wymondham Rugby Club.

She added: 'We'll be celebrating as a big group of friends, because that's what we are.'

Admiral Nurses Walk

The 'Happiness Garden' at Fairland Church in Wymondham, created by volunteers at the Wymondham Demen

The 'Happiness Garden' at Fairland Church in Wymondham, created by volunteers at the Wymondham Dementia Support Group. Photo: Phil Whiscombe - Credit: Archant

Next month Wymondham Dementia Group will join Admiral Walk UK to raise funds for a new specialist dementia nurse in Norfolk.

Dementia UK provides Admiral Nurses for people with dementia and their families, to offer practical advice and help with everything from communication to solving unanswered questions.

The first Admiral Nurse was introduced to Norfolk in 2013, but since then the charity has struggled to fund a continuous service despite growing demand.

Marie Lucas, from the Norwich City Dementia Action Alliance, said the six-mile walk at Kimberley Hall in Wymondham should raise considerable funds to support the service.

Group organiser Dianne Fernee entertains members with her colourful outfit choice at last year's Chr

Group organiser Dianne Fernee entertains members with her colourful outfit choice at last year's Christmas party. Photo: Phil Whiscombe - Credit: Archant

For those less fond of walking there is the option to cycle the route or sponsor local dementia ambassador, Jack Brock the Shetland pony.

The walk will begin at 10am on Sunday, April 28, and those wishing to register should visit www.admiralwalk.co.uk or justgiving.com to donate.

Preparations in full swing for the Wymondham Dementia Support Group Christmas party. Photo: Phil Whi

Preparations in full swing for the Wymondham Dementia Support Group Christmas party. Photo: Phil Whiscombe - Credit: Archant

Tthe Wymondham Dementia Support Group heads out on one of its regular member outings. Photo: Phil Wh

Tthe Wymondham Dementia Support Group heads out on one of its regular member outings. Photo: Phil Whiscombe - Credit: Archant

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