Play helps to unlock memories for people with dementia in Chipping Norton

Witney Gazette: Back, from left, Bill Gibson, Jan Burrage, Ralph Burrage, Bernard Stradling, volunteer Frances Buckle and Claire Ward of the Guideposts Trust, which supports the project; front, Barbara Dunmore, Malcolm Dunmore, co-ordinator Val McKay and Phil Nicks Back, from left, Bill Gibson, Jan Burrage, Ralph Burrage, Bernard Stradling, volunteer Frances Buckle and Claire Ward of the Guideposts Trust, which supports the project; front, Barbara Dunmore, Malcolm Dunmore, co-ordinator Val McKay and Phil Nicks

A RADIO play is helping to stimulate memories for people with dementia who attend the Lights Up arts and memory club in Chipping Norton.

The drama, A Very Strange Journey, is set in 1957. It tells the tale of a group of train passengers stuck at Chipping Norton station after a landslide and sheep on the track delay a train from Banbury to Wales.

The 20-minute drama could now be broadcast on the county’s hospital radio stations, Radio Cherwell and Radio Horton.

Community artist Sharon Woodward, who came up with the idea, said: “The story created was so imaginative and way beyond the simple play I was expecting. I can only describe it as being a comedy spy thriller, a bit like ‘Carry on Spying’.”

“As well as stimulating the mind, it allowed people to be someone else, to relax and have a lot of fun, which is very important for those living with dementia.”

Jan and Ralph Burrage attend Lights Up. Jan, who cares for Ralph, said: “We loved making the play. Sometimes Ralph doesn’t remember much about the day, but if he has had a good time, the feeling remains with him for some time.”

The club was set up by West Oxfordshire District Council last year. Mark Booty, the council’s cabinet member responsible for health, said: “A year ago we formed the West Oxfordshire Dementia Alliance with NHS partners and other organisations to improve services and support. Lights Up is a shining example of how this is working.”

The club meets twice a month at the Highlands day centre, in Burford Road. For more details, call 0845 120 4048.

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