Dales gem set to be 'Dementia Friendly' town

The high street in Pateley Bridge.
The high street in Pateley Bridge.

One of North Yorkshire rural 'jewels' looks set to lead the way by becoming one of the first ‘dementia friendly’ towns in the county.

The new move follows talks between the Nidderdale Chamber of Trade and Jill Quinn, the chief executive of Ripon-based charity Dementia Forward

The response from the public in Pateley Bridge, which was voted best Best British High Street in 2016, has been so good so far, it is now believed it will become the third town in the county to be publicly recognised as a Dementia Friendly town after Northallerton and Scarborough. Nidderdale Chamber of Trade chairman Keith Tordoff said: “Pateley Bridge and its High Street is seen as an ideal place for people with dementia to visit as its traditional High Street and independent businesses will hopefully help with their condition.”

The vicar of Pateley Bridge Methodist Church, the Rev Mike Poole has played a major role in the push to give it Dementia Friendly status.

His own mother lived with the condition.

And he said the town’s “well-knit community” had responded magnificently to recent developments.

Mr Poole said: “When dementia occurs, the lives of loved ones, partners, family members and friends are all changed with the burden of care often overwhelming.

“My mum lived with dementia and fortunately my brothers and sisters were all close by to help.

“Whenever I visited her I would take along my guitar and sing many old songs with her. It made a big difference to her day.

“The response from Pateley people has been overwhelmingly encouraging.

“We have such a well-knit community that, with a little awareness training, churches, charities and businesses in the town can all make a significant difference to the lives of those who suffer and their families.”

After being approached by the Rev Poole, Dementia Forward recently set up a friendly singing group at Pateley Bridge Methodist Church every Friday aimed at supporting people with dementia.

Dementia Forward’s chief executive Jill Quinn said Pateley Bridge’s attitude on dementia was “incredible.”

She said: “We have worked in various areas on the push to make communities dementia friendly and over time we have realised that it is mainly about people, education and attitudes.

“Pateley has proved itself to be a remarkable community in so many ways and we are really excited to be part of making it Dementia Friendly.”

The next step in the push to gain offical Dementia Friendly status is to invite local businesses to give a dementia training session at at Pateley Bridge Methodist Church.

Keith Tordoff said: “We are hoping enough businesses will take up the training so that the whole area .

“At the least Pateley Bridge High Street should become a dementia friendly area.

“We are also hoping to work with the Harrogate bus company so that it’s staff can become trained to assist people travelling who have dementia.

Businesses will also be asked to take collection boxes in their business premises for people to donate to Dementia Forward.

It is anticipated that those businesses where staff become trained will have a sticker in their business premises window to show that they are dementia friendly.

Jill Quinn said the end goal of all the efforts in Pateley Bridge was to create a virtual support network for people living with dementia and their families.

She said: “Dementia Forward’s role is to provide free dementia education to any business, club, group in Pateley who will engage, including the new recently improved bus service.

“The education will have the effect of raising awareness and understanding of dementia, removing stigma and increasing community support.

“All this is so doable in a community like Pateley where shop keepers already look out for people.”