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'Watford's dementia support is a lifeline'

Golden Memories programme, Watford FC

Every week people in Watford with mild and moderate dementia head to Vicarage Road to attend Watford FC's Golden Memories, one of the highlights of their week.

People such as former Watford player Walter Lees.

"For Walter it is the centre of his life," says Walter's partner June Casey. "We end up dancing and singing and you go home feeling that was a really nice day. And you know you have another one to look forward to next week."

Golden Memories is delivered by the Watford FC Community Sports and Education Trust in partnership with the Watford Museum.

The programme, funded by the Professional Footballers' Association and the Premier League, uses a host of club memorabilia and magic moments to stimulate the senses and evoke personal memories.

Weekly sessions involve music, dancing, exercises and games as well as visits from former players to give the guests and their carers an opportunity to socialise in a safe and familiar environment.

"If it wasn't for the team, I would be stuck in the house," says Lees, who played for Watford over eight years in the 1960s and 1970s. "I really appreciate it. I don't know if they realise the goodness they are doing for people in our situation."

It isn't just those with dementia who benefit from such programmes.

"It's a lifeline to people with dementia but also to their carers," says Casey. "Walter has begun to remember people's names, he's got to know people and he's just brighter."

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