Stray Ferret Christmas Appeal 2023: ‘Dementia Forward is a home for me’
Nov 13, 2023

This year’s Stray Ferret Christmas Appeal is to raise £30,000 for a much-needed minibus for Dementia Forward in the Harrogate district. 

The appeal is kindly sponsored by Vida Healthcare.

Please give generously to support local people and their families living with dementia. Let’s not forget who needs our help this Christmas.

Today, Flora spoke to a mother and daughter who use the charity’s services.

Growing up, parents seem invincible, and the thought of one day caring for them seems a lifetime away.

But in reality, thousands of people are caring for their parents living with dementia, and losing their loved ones before their very eyes.

One of them is Beverley Mitcheson, who looks after her mother, Mary Yelland. They told us their story.

Mary was once a talented window-dresser. She is a mother to her children, grandmother to her grandchildren and even great-grandmother to her great-grandchildren Mary lived a normal life before getting dementia.

Beverley said:

“We noticed a lot of changes in mum, and we all knew she wasn’t remembering things, but it wasn’t until last year that we finally took action.

“There’s no handbook in these situations you don’t know what to do.”

Beverley felt at a loss as to how best to support her 91-year-old mother, who had recently been diagnosed with this progressive disease.

Luckily, her husband had noticed the Dementia Forward minibus around the area and got in touch about Mary’s diagnosis.

Beverley said:

“As a carer, you never feel you’re doing enough.”

Beverley took on the role as her mum’s carer 18 months ago and, as a mother and grandmother herself, struggled to juggle it all.

After a home visit from the Dementia Forward team, they stepped in to provide Mary with specialist care she needed.

Fast forward a year, and she now goes attends the Hub Club twice a week with a smile on her face.

Beverley added:

“I couldn’t manage without these two days.

“I love my mum so much she’s happy.

“I know she’s stimulated here – which is something I can’t do for her –  and they’re the main things.”

Mary with other members at the Hub Club.

The Hub Club offers those living with dementia the opportunity to spend the day at the Burton Leonard site. They play board games, have coffee and cake over crosswords, take part in quizzes and listen to their favourite songs. But most importantly, the members are socialising.

Dementia can be extremely isolating and people often feel misunderstood, but the group combats that and makes those people feel understood.

Beverley added:

“Dementia isn’t physical – people can’t see it – so, for her to be somewhere she’s understood is just amazing.”

The charity has brought light to a life-changing situation for Mary and Beverley, as well as hundreds of other families across the Harrogate district.

Mary said:

“When I come here, I just feel like I’m going to see my friends – it’s like a family.

“It’s like entering a haven where I don’t need to worry about anything. It’s a home for me.”


However, Beverley still has to watch this dementia take her mother from her.

Dementia Forward continues to support them, along with thousands of other families every week, but it can only do so with the help of charitable donations.

Every donation to our campaign will go directly to Dementia Forward, helping us hit our £30,000 target to buy the charity a new minibus and bettering the lives of those living with dementia and the people around them.

Dementia Forward’s current bus is old and urgently needs to be replaced. The charity would seriously struggle to afford a new one, which is why they need your help to keep this vital service going. Without it, many people living with dementia wouldn’t be able to access the help and support they need. 

Click here to donate whatever you can – you never know when you, your family or your friend may be in need of Dementia Forward’s help too.

Thank you.

The NHS found 1 in 11 people over the age of 65 in the UK are living with dementia. For those who need urgent help or have a dementia-related enquiry, call 0330 057 8592 to speak to a helpline adviser.

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