Stray Ferret Christmas Appeal 2023: ‘They make you smile despite what they’re dealing with’
Last updated Nov 10, 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.

It 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 one of the charity’s volunteer bus drivers.

“Retirement came with a plan, but it was clear to me I needed to find a different balance.”

Following a 42-year career in logistics, Robert Milton felt it was time to give something back to his community.

Now a year into his role at Dementia Forward, Robert wakes up every Monday and looks forward to the day ahead, knowing he will drive those living with dementia to a place of care and support.

He said:

“The people here are just lovely – they put their hearts and souls into what they do.”

Every week, Robert picks people up in Harrogate and Ripon to ensure they get to the hub safely, while also giving their carers some much needed respite. It offers anyone living with dementia the opportunity to access the support they so urgently need no matter their situation.

After dropping people off, he has a cup of tea and a chat with them. He joins them in playing board games and competing in quizzes he makes people living with a silent disease feel heard.

But, Robert is so much more than a driver at Dementia Forward.

“The role was described as ‘just driving’ but it becomes far more than that. The people you drive become acquaintances friends.

“They come here, have a ball, and I drive get to drive them home again. I just look forward to it every week.

“They just have a way of making you smile despite what they’re dealing with.”

Members of The Hub Club.

The minibus is also used to take people out on day trips and to social events. Some people venture to the Yorkshire coast, to play golf, to art galleries, on walking adventures and even just to cafés.

It combats the isolation so many people sadly feel when living with dementia.

Robert added:

“It’s not all one pace – that’s where Dementia Forward fits in and it’s given me an idea of the different personalities you can meet.

“Some of these people don’t realise what they’re dealing with, but the people around them – carers and families – watch it first hand.”

Without Dementia Forward’s minibus service, many people living with dementia in the Harrogate district could not access the vital care and support the charity offers.

It provides a lifeline for those living with the disease and the people around them.

However, hundreds of families across the district are losing their loved ones to dementia every day that’s why we need your help this Christmas.

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.

The current bus is old and urgently needs to be replaced. Dementia Forward 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 need Dementia Forward’s help too.

Thank you.

The NHS found that 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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