A 'THRIVING' activity group in Northwich is ensuring people with dementia and their families are living to the full. 

Age UK Cheshire’s Bright Memories group runs five-hour activity sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for men and women living with mild to medium memory loss and dementia.

Its sessions at Castle Community Centre offer fun, friendship, and stimulation through creative and musical activities, topical discussions, physical activity, quizzes, and word and number games.

Members also enjoy a delicious two-course lunch in the centre’s conservatory dining room which overlooks a one-acre garden, allowing relatives a much-needed break from their caring responsibilities.


Staff and volunteers are also on hand to offer tailored advice to those suffering with dementia and their carers on how they can still live independent, rich, enjoyable, and fulfilling lives.

Age UK Cheshire service manager, Trish Williams, is adamant a dementia diagnosis doesn’t have to mean the end of a good quality of life.

She said: “Bright Memories is a wonderful example of how people can still live well with dementia. 

Northwich Guardian: Balloon tennis is one of the group's activitiesBalloon tennis is one of the group's activities (Image: Newsquest)

"Our members get friendship and stimulation, while those who care for them get five hours respite.

“Members are with their peers who have a shared experience of memory loss, so it doesn’t matter if they forget something. We all forget. And it doesn’t matter if they do something silly. We can all do silly things.

“They’re relaxed, they can be themselves, and they don’t have to pretend. Whatever happens just doesn’t matter.

“Caring for someone with dementia long-term can be difficult, but when carers know they'll have a few hours to themselves, it's just that bit easier to hold on.

“We offer maintenance cognitive stimulation therapy, which is the only non-drug treatment specifically recommended to improve cognition, independence, and well-being by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

“Music is a huge part of what we do. The reminiscence it stimulates, and the memories it brings back, is just outstanding.

“Our Monday sessions are for men only, just because some of them like it best that way.

“We find the men can be a bit harder to engage socially. What they really want is male company, so we do what we can to accommodate them.

“It’s just about making it as pleasant and enjoyable as possible.”

Anne Panagakis’ husband Derek, who’s 92, has been living with dementia for several years.

Derek was a master mariner by profession then went into business before retiring at 85, so is used to having a lot going on in his life.

Bright Memories 'really give him a purpose’, she says.

Anne recently told Radio Northwich: “Though it was difficult to get him to go at the beginning, he just loves it now.  As a group, it's really thriving.  

“Derek has made some wonderful friends at Bright Memories and he gets so much out of it.

“He says the staff and volunteers work so hard, and he loves all of them.”

Members pay to attend Bright Memories sessions, though its run on a not-for profit basis. 

For more information, or to book a taster session, call 07917 638820 or email brightmemories@ageukcheshire.org.uk.