First dementia friendly Christmas lunch huge success in Barnsley

The first Dementia Friendly Christmas service and tea organised by Hoylandswaine parish church was a huge success.

Over 40 people attended, many of them living with dementia; the youngest guest was just three years old and the oldest was 94 years old. Vicar, the Revd Maureen Browell tells the story: "The service lasted about half an hour and we heard the Christmas story in readings from the King James Bible, sang carols accompanied by a brass ensemble and keyboard, and created a nativity scene using knitted figures. The atmosphere was very relaxed and the people with dementia particularly enjoyed it, especially handling the knitted nativity figures.

"After the service there was time for reminiscing as we enjoyed festive refreshments and there were some cracking stories about Christmasses in the 30s, 40s and 50s - almost everyone (apart from the three year olds) mentioned their Christmas stocking which contained an apple and an orange, but what differed was the coin, which ranged from a penny to half a crown - a sign of the times, I guess! There was also talk of turkeys and geese and sprouts and pantomimes - in fact, it was difficult to draw the conversations to a close as the afternoon came to an end.

"Without exception, those who attended thoroughly enjoyed themselves and asked for another service very soon, which the church family will of course be happy to organise.

"One carer commented "it's the happiest I've seen him in weeks." and "My passion is that all people with dementia be accepted into the community and be totally involved like today."

"That's exactly the kind of feedback we were praying for, and we're looking forward to our next Dementia Friendly occasion, probably around Easter and involving bonnets and eggs.

"I'm so very proud of the congregation of St John's Hoylandswaine for instigating this initiative to become a dementia friendly church," she said.





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