We brought Ian’s beloved family together to mark his 60th birthday

Ian, a former soldier, has been living with frontotemporal dementia for a decade and we brought his beloved family together to mark his 60th birthday. He loved seeing his grandchildren play at the party arranged by our dedicated team here at Barrowhill Hall, a 74-bedroom residential and nursing home on the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border.

Ian left the 22 Signal Regiment in 2006 after 22 years of service and became a technical support worker for Derbyshire police. As he approached his 50th birthday signs of his condition began to emerge, and he was medically retired after his diagnosis. He has lived at our home’s young onset dementia household, Churnet Lodge, for seven years.

Our specialist team have adapted their skills to suit Ian’s needs as his condition has progressed. His family have become part of our household too and the team understand the power they have to still touch his emotions.

Ian’s wife, Wendy Burton, says, “Everyone went above and beyond to make Ian’s 60th a special event. It was heart-warming and lovely for us to have that memory as a family. It means a lot that the home were able to create that for us.

“The team at Churnet Lodge are so supportive and welcoming and they do everything they can to keep Ian well and content. Over the last two years he has continued to deteriorate, he needs complete support and has recently lost the ability to walk.

“As a family we have to accept these changes and we talk openly about what we are going to face. There is still some recognition from him and he likes to watch our two grandchildren play.”

His party was held in our lounge overlooking the grounds and countryside with live music, buffet food and a special tank cake – a tribute to Ian’s military career. Ian’s grandchildren were in attendance along with family, friends, residents and team members.

The party took place just ahead of Dementia Awareness Week and since his diagnosis Wendy has become a carer herself and dedicates her time to raising awareness about rare forms of dementia.

“I attend seminars and I am a volunteer with Rare Dementia Support,” she says. “Our aim is for people to ask what type of dementia someone has as opposed to thinking of Alzheimer’s if someone discloses they have dementia. Bruce Willis’ diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia last year, the same type Ian has, helped to raise awareness and it would be great to keep this momentum.

“I also work with the education team at Derby Royal giving ‘Expert by Experience’ interviews to medical students. When they are fully trained and our GP’s of the future they will have a better understanding of the typical traits of someone who has frontotemporal dementia and the difficulties facing carers and family members.

“The team at Barrowhill Hall have been a pillar of support and I can always turn to them for information too. It’s lovely to be able to take this knowledge and my experience and use it to help others when I’m out in the community.”

Our home manager, Dania Meadows, says, “Education around dementia is incredibly important and people like Wendy are integral to raising awareness. We do everything we can to provide outstanding care, give reassurance to families and to try and alleviate people’s worries and concerns about their dementia journeys.

“It’s been a privilege to be able to care for Ian during his time here and we will continue to do so, supporting his family every step of the way. It was lovely to be able to mark his 60th birthday bringing his loved ones together for the occasion.”

(Ian and Wendy Wedding Day August 1986)

(Ian age 22 as a soldier in the Falkland Islands)

(Ian visiting the National Memorial Arboretum on Royal Signals Day 2023)

Ian’s 60th birthday story was covered by the BBC Online, Burton Mail, Derby Telegraph, Ashbourne News Telegraph and the Buxton Advertiser.
Ian, his wife Wendy and his family have done so much to spread awareness about frontotemporal dementia – helping others by sharing their story. Please see some of the news stories below:



Valentine’s Day was ‘blooming lovely’ for married couple, David and Helena, at our care home

Featured in The Burton Mail


A couple who’ve been married for almost 60 years have been able to spend Valentine’s Day together at our home thanks to our dedicated team.

Mr and Mrs Bridges, aka David, 87 and Helena, 84, have been married for 58 years. Last year, their daughter Kara Bridges struggled to find a suitable home for her parents and was desperate to find one which would accommodate them both and allow them to stay together.

After four months of searching,  she found Barrowhill Hall, our 74-bedroom residential and nursing home in Rocester, which specialises in caring for those living with dementia and memory loss, on the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border. Her parents moved into our home in November 2023, on the week of their 58th wedding anniversary.

“It means so much to me that Mum and Dad can be together at the same home and that they are so well cared for,” says Kara.

“We’d been looking since July and after two failed placements we were so happy to find a home as lovely as Barrowhill Hall. The home was able to accommodate them both together and the team were able to care for their very different dementia needs.

“They settled in straight away as the home really understand dementia and they got to know them as individuals – right from the beginning,” Kara says. “That first week they even received an anniversary cake and card, it was so unexpected and so lovely.”

The couple met in the early 60s, Helena had moved over from Ireland, working as a nurse and David was a joiner. The pair got married in Burton-on-Trent, in 1965, at the Catholic Church on Guild Street.

Our activities lead, Val Barnes, says, “We’re so happy we’ve been able to keep David and Helena together, they are a lovely couple and their eyes light up when they see each other.

“We make sure they are able to sit together in the home’s lounge and share their meals together. They celebrated Valentine’s Day with our special three-course lunch in our dining room, joined by our other residents and their loved ones.”

The dining room was a riot of colour and scent thanks to the activities team organising a flower arranging session with the residents ahead of the big day.

“The home looked beautiful and we always feel so welcome when we visit,” says Kara, who was joined by her son, David and Helena’s grandson, Luke. “The team have been really supportive of us as a family.”

“It’s great friends and family members can join in with the activities too. Dad is a keen gardener so I know he’ll enjoy helping with the garden when the weather is warmer. The flower arranging was a lot of fun and it was very sociable. The home always has a great atmosphere.”

Home manager, Dania Meadows, says, “We will always accommodate our residents’ needs as best we can and the team work tirelessly to keep our residents healthy and happy. Our residents’ family, friends and loved ones become part of our extended family.

“There’s a lot of love at our home and the flower arranging was a very colourful and uplifting activity for Valentine’s Day. You could say it was ‘blooming lovely.”


Barrowhill Hall hold a flower arranging class for their residents ahead of Valentines Day.


Sally (resident), Val (Activities Lead), Alison (resident) and Ruth (Activities Lead).
Ruth and Alison
Sally and Val
Alison, Ruth, Sally and Val
Pictured Kara (far right) visiting her parents David and Helena Bridges (both residents)


“We loved working on Christmas day!” say our team

Our carers went above and beyond to make the festive season special for our residents and they were really looking forward to spending Christmas Day with them.

Our home is a 74-bedroom residential and nursing home on the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border and we specialise in caring for those living with dementia and memory loss. We are rated ‘Good’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and we were recently West Midlands’ Finalists at the Great British Care Awards 2023 for the ‘Care Home Manager’ and ‘Dementia Carer’ award.

Emmanuel Igantious, 28, and Raj Islam, 26, joined Barrowhill Hall last year and they were part of the dedicated team who helped to make Christmas “magical” for our residents.

“I loved working on Christmas Day!” Emmanuel says, “We all do this job because we care so much about the residents and it means everything to us to see them happy. I got so much enjoyment from watching them open their presents and being part of their special day.”

Raj says, “Coming into work on Christmas Day was very exciting and seeing the smiles on our residents’ faces was priceless. I don’t have grandparents and so the residents are like my grandparents.”

Christmas Day at our home began with the team handing out gifts to all the residents in our lounge and in their bedrooms. Everyone enjoyed a homemade Christmas dinner with all the trimmings and we watched the King’s speech on the TV, which the residents were really looking forward to.

Resident Gladys Poree, 88, described our home’s Christmas decorations as “Beautiful” and the festivities as “magical”.

Our lifestyle coordinator, Sally-Ann Davis, says, “It’s always a home from home here and our residents’ family and friends are very much a part of the Barrowhill Hall family too.

“Val and Ruth from the lifestyle team handed out the presents on Christmas morning, it’s become their tradition, and they love it. We all worked really hard as a team to make our home magical for the residents over Christmas time, and on the day itself. Our residents had a great time and that’s what counts.”

We organised and hosted a variety of Christmas events during the build-up to the big day. These included a Christmas evening with live singers, complete with mulled wine and mince pies, a talented vocalist performing a war-themed Christmas show called ‘Putting on the Blitz’, schoolchildren singing carols in the home’s lit-up garden, and a Christmas fair with Santa Claus meeting residents.

Carer, Tiffany Beardsley, 18, was one of the team who had a key role during the Santa Claus visit. She dressed as an elf, whilst her partner, Tom, also a carer at the home, was Santa himself, stepping in to help last minute when Santa couldn’t make it.

“It was really good fun,” Tiffany says. “I just enjoy spending time with the residents and building bonds with them. We all did our best to make Christmas special for them. I really enjoy care work and chatting with the residents is one of the best parts about it. Some of them are really funny, we always have a giggle.”

Our care home manager, Dania Meadows says, “I’m really proud of the team, they can’t do enough for the residents. We had a lovely Christmas Day and it’s heart-warming that the team enjoyed it as much as the residents did.”



School children bring joy to our residents with a special carol service


Our residents were serenaded by school children from Abbotsholme School in Uttoxeter and enjoyed classic carols and Christmas songs whilst they kept cosy and warm indoors.

The special performance took place at the grounds of our home and as the children gathered around the lit-up Christmas tree in our large garden, the residents watched and waved from the windows with the Barrowhill Hall team.

Amongst those who enjoyed being serenaded was resident Kenneth Staley, 79, “It was lovely,” he said, whilst resident Gladys Poree, 88, described the concert as “beautiful”.

Our lifestyle coordinator, Sally-Ann Davis, could see how much the residents loved the concert but also the positive impact the children’s singing had on them.

“Being a dementia specialist home, a lot of our residents have limited communication,” she explained, “but some of them became noticeably chattier during the children’s visit. Our residents enjoyed it so much and we could see that just from the looks of joy on their faces.

“Everyone was very attentive, and they were smiling, nodding, waving and singing along, they just loved it. It was a cold night, so we decided to keep everyone warm and watch from the windows and it felt very festive.”

Maintaining strong community links is one way our dedicated team help to ensure our residents live lives full of meaning and purpose. Previously the students from Abbotsholme School have visited to read to the residents and we were delighted to welcome them back for the Christmas concert.

Resident Alfred Hudson, 87, enjoyed the carols and said they were, “brilliant and heart-warming.” For him, the concert brought back special memories of his favourite Christmases. “I remember Christmas with my two boys”, he said, “this reminds me of when they were young.”

The children sang classic carols such as ‘Away in a Manger’ and ‘Little Donkey’, alongside their Headmistress, Mrs Helen Wilkinson, who was beaming with pride.

“The children had a fantastic time,” she said. “They were singing their hearts out for the residents and representing everything our school stands for.

“We were so proud of them for volunteering and for all their efforts in making the residents smile. It seems we enjoyed it as much as they did.”

The residents’ family members, friends and loved ones were invited to the evening, which was a big hit with Sally-Ann’s grandson, four-year-old Jehsiah Smith.

“He is fascinated by choirs,” Sally-Ann said. “He’s forever singing Jingle Bells and he hadn’t seen such a big choir before so he couldn’t take his eyes off them from the window.

“He’s a bit nervous and he loves being at the home because our residents love to see him. They always have time for him and love to chat with him.

“He’s coming here on Boxing Day and he’s really looking forward to it. The residents give him confidence and really bring him out of his shell.”

The Christmas concert is one of several activities we put on over the festive season. Other events included a Christmas evening with a live singer, complete with mulled wine and mince pies, a talented vocalist performing a war-themed Christmas show called ‘Putting on the Blitz’, and a Christmas fair with Santa Claus meeting residents in the home’s lounge and visiting nursing residents in their rooms.

Our care home manager, Dania Meadows said, “For us these events are about coming together as an extended family at Christmas time – the residents, their loved ones and the Barrowhill Hall team.

“It was a very special evening having the children come to our home and we could see how much it meant to the residents. The team have been going above and beyond to make sure Christmas is special and magical for the residents and this performance from Abbotsholme School was no exception.

“It really gave us all that warm Christmassy feeling and it was the perfect way to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.”



Residents at our care home had a ‘hoot’ meeting feathery Harry Potter star


The residents and staff at our care home recently enjoyed meeting a cast member from the Harry Potter films and we were starstruck by the feathery celebrity.

The VIP attended a community open day here at Barrowhill Hall, our 74-bedroom residential and nursing home, which specialises in caring for those living with dementia and memory loss, on the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border.

The snowy owl, previously called Annabelle but now affectionately known as Hedwig, starred as Harry Potter’s pet owl in the early Harry Potter films. She was brought to the event by Kingsley Bird and Falconry Centre based in Cheadle.

Our resident, Jean Langton, 89, is a huge Harry Potter fan and she enjoyed the ‘meet-and-greet’ experience with her husband, Ken. The couple were celebrating their wedding anniversary of 61 years, and this experience made it an extra special day for them.

“It was a fantastic wedding anniversary treat,” Jean says, “it made our day! Hedwig was very exciting to hold. I felt very proud, and I can’t believe I’ve been so close to a Harry Potter star!”

June McNicol, 84, lives in Cheadle and attended the open day with her daughter, Sally-Ann Davis, who is our activities lead at the home.

Sally-Ann says, “When Mum heard a snowy owl was visiting Barrowhill Hall she couldn’t wait to drive up and see it. She absolutely loves birds of prey and my brother used to keep them. She was really excited, and Hedwig didn’t disappoint.”

In addition to the snowy owl, The Falconry Centre brought in two barn owls and a Harris’ Hawk for everyone to meet. For our nursing residents unable to meet the birds in the home’s large garden they also made a special appearance in residents’ bedrooms.

“We want all our activities to be inclusive,” Sally-Ann says, “and we tailor them for all abilities. The residents couldn’t believe it when an owl came into their room. They certainly weren’t expecting that!

“For many of our residents meeting a snowy owl up close was a new experience. As well as being fun and enjoyable, like with many of our animal visits, you can also see first-hand the calming, soothing effect pet therapy has on our residents.”

Holding the hawk was the highlight for Ian Burton, 59, a resident at Churnet Lodge, the home’s separate household for those living with young onset dementia. He was joined by his family members including his wife, Wendy and their 6-year-old grandson, Charlie.

“The birds made it for Ian, you could see how much he loved holding them,” Wendy says. “It was a great experience.”

“My grandson enjoyed seeing the birds, but meeting Spiderman was his favourite part!”

Alongside the costume character the open day offered a variety of activities throughout the afternoon, including a bouncy castle, live music, and an army truck visit.

For our home, open days like these are not only an important way of keeping our residents connected with the community but they also create enjoyable new experiences for our residents and their loved ones.

Sally-Ann explains; “We always offer a variety of activities here, some are intended to evoke memories and reflection to help our residents feel secure and comforted and others, are about creating new memories. We are always keen for our residents to try new things – like meet a celebrity owl – and we support them to live stimulating and fulfilling lives.

“Our events bring people together. We love to keep our residents connected with the community and create opportunities where our residents and their loved ones can make new memories and enjoy a special day together. It’s always worth it when you see the joy on everyone’s faces!”

Our care home manager, Dania Meadows says, “The best thing about the day was having everyone come together as one big family. Our residents’ loved ones are an extension of our home, and we support them as much as we support the residents.

“The birds were a big hit and they were great with our residents, we were glad the owl, despite its celebrity status wasn’t too high maintenance and we look forward to welcoming all the birds back soon!”




Residents put their green fingers to the test with ‘The Garden Project’

Our residents and staff created a sensory garden and they are now quite literally enjoying the fruits of their labour.

Our 74-bedroom residential and nursing home has always enjoyed the benefits of the countryside, being on the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border, but now we’ve taken this to the next level, growing our own produce via ‘The Garden Project’, which began in March.

Our activities lead, Sally-Ann Davis explains; “We started The Garden Project because we wanted to encourage our residents to make the most of our gardens that overlook the neighbouring fields and the beautiful views. Being outside in nature can be very calming and lift people’s mood. We also wanted it to be a working space where we could grow herbs and a variety of fruits and vegetables.

“A lot of our residents love to garden, so this ongoing project is perfect for them and we’re now at the point where we’re putting the home-grown mint on the new potatoes at lunch and raspberries on our cakes for afternoon tea. It’s a big success and it’s certainly a talking point at mealtimes!”

Our residents Alfred Hudson, 87, and Leonard Redman, 85, are both keen gardeners and they are among those who have been enjoying the benefits of the project.

“It’s good to do the jobs properly,” Alfred says, “I’ve been sorting the onions and preparing the soil. There’s always more to do.”

“The garden is fantastic!” says Leonard, who has been planting and pruning, “it’s kept us all busy and it’s very colourful.”

The Garden Project was thoughtfully designed by Sally-Ann for those living with dementia and contains raised planters for easier access, strong-smelling plants and herbs, such as lavender, mint and thyme, and other sensory elements such as wind chimes.

She explains how, as a multisensory activity, gardening can be powerful and therapeutic for individuals living with dementia, benefitting cognitive function, emotional well-being and physical health.

“Gardening can help our residents to stay active and to feel empowered as they nurture the plants.” She says. “It can be very mindful especially with the textures and the smells, like the smell of the soil for example.

“It can evoke memories in our residents that may otherwise be hard for them to reach and it’s lovely to see them having conversations about the gardens they had before and the best way to do things. It’s also been very helpful because I’ve never grown anything prior to this, so they are teaching me how it’s done!”

Our care home manager, Dania Meadows says, “Setting up The Garden Project has been a labour of love and a joint effort across the home. Now it’s in full swing we love that our residents feel such a sense of accomplishment.”

As a very sociable project it’s been brilliant for our active residents who love to garden and it’s also perfect for our residents who just love to sit and enjoy the sensory elements. It’s a place everyone can use when family and friends come to visit because it’s so private and peaceful. We’ve even had family members joining in and bringing plants and ornaments for it.

“Whether our residents created it, enjoy maintaining it, sitting in it or simply eating the produce from it, we’re very proud of our garden and what our residents have achieved and we’re delighted it brings them so much happiness in so many different ways.





Raising awareness of Young Onset Dementia for Dementia Action Week

Dementia Action Week took place 15th -21st May. This year’s theme was ‘Diagnosis’ and we ran a campaign on Facebook to help raise awareness of Young Onset Dementia.
Our posts were seen by over 80,000 people and for every share they got, Barrowhill Hall donated £1 to Dementia UK. We raised £250!
Young Onset Dementia affects an estimated 70,800 people in the UK and the symptoms occur under the age of 65. The symptoms can be different from those of dementia, which develop later in life, and may include changes in behaviour, language difficulties, and difficulty with co-ordination and movement.
To help people understand more about the condition we highlighted Ali’s story, one of our residents with young onset dementia, whose symptoms began in her mid 50s.
Ali, 61, is a resident here at Churnet Lodge, our specialist household for those living with Young Onset Dementia. Churnet Lodge is a specially designed building and the décor and design are suited to younger people. We understand that dementia can be a challenging condition and our highly trained staff offer the appropriate care for their specific needs. We provide Ali, and all our residents, with the best possible care and quality of life.
Ali’s daughter, Charlotte, says her family found the decision to move Ali into Churnet Lodge a very difficult one. “It was a huge decision for us all,” she says, “and not one we came to lightly.
“Barrowhill Hall have been very kind and welcoming. The grounds are absolutely stunning, and the home is light, spacious and airy, with quiet lounges that are very peaceful.
“Seeing Mum’s relationship with her care team is hugely rewarding and the bond they have with her is so special. Her face lights up when she sees one of her regular carers, Tracey, who knows Mum so well.
“She is so good and it’s so reassuring to have her as our go-to person. Tracey is one of several superstars and they are all so kind to us!”
We know Ali is an animal lover. She spent many years with Jack Russell terriers, guinea pigs and any other animals who needed her and she loves all the furry friends who regularly visit our home.
“It’s important to never forget the person that they were before this awful disease,” says Ali’s daughter Charlotte. “They are still the person you love and you’ll get glimpses of them even when the disease takes hold. Hold on tight to the good times amongst the more challenging ones.”
She describes Ali as a super mum of four who devoted herself to her children, a lovely wife to Jon and a great sister to her beloved Cathy.
“Dementia is a very complicated and confusing disease,” Charlotte explains. “Especially when, like Mum, it presents itself at such a young age. Mum was mid 50s when she started showing signs and it took us a long time to reach a diagnosis. It’s so difficult for loved ones to watch it unfold especially when you know there is no cure.”
Her family have been deeply affected but we’ve been here to help.
“It’s been a huge and devastating experience for us all,” Charlotte says, “but we’ve come together as a family and supported each other on this journey so far. The carers at Churnet Lodge are so kind to us whenever we arrive and provide us with real reassurance that all is well when we aren’t there in person.”
We would like to give a huge thank you to Ali, Charlotte and her family for helping to raise awareness about Young Onset Dementia.


“It means a lot to know the Prince I met is now King” says care home resident, Gillyann, 86  


(Gillyann’s story as seen in the Uttoxeter Echo and Burton Mail.)


The Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla was an exciting time for residents at a Rocester care home but for Gillyann Prince it brought back memories of a personal invitation from the then Prince of Wales.


Firm royalist, Gillyann, 86, from Barrowhill Hall residential and nursing home was invited with her husband to visit King Charles III in 1994 at his private residence in Highgrove, Gloucestershire.


His Majesty extended the invitation as a thank you to them both for letting him hunt on their land when they lived on a farm in Norbury. “It was a wonderful day.” she says, “and it means a lot to me to know the Prince I met is now the King.”


Gillyann watched the King’s Coronation in her room at Barrowhill Hall with her granddaughter, Victoria, festooned with Union Jacks, it echoed memories of the “excitement” of watching Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation as 16-year-old.


“I loved it!” she says, “I didn’t have a favourite part, I enjoyed watching the whole ceremony.”


Gillyann’s affection for the Royal Family began in her teens when she queued for more than six hours to pay her respects to King George VI.  She was one of the 305,806 people who went to Westminster Hall in 1952 for his lying.

Then 13 years later, she was thrilled to be invited to Buckingham Palace for the 50th anniversary of the Women’s Institute. The King wasn’t in attendance, but she did meet the Duchess of Gloucester.


Barrowhill Hall, a 74-bedroom home specializing in caring for those living with dementia and memory loss, went all out with their festivities to mark the Coronation. Staff, residents and their friends and families enjoyed decorations, themed games (such as ‘Pin the Diamond on the Crown’), an all-day buffet and Coronation cakes, and entertainment from singer Paulo who had everyone singing and dancing.


Care home manager, Dania Meadows, says, “The Coronation meant a lot to our residents. The staff worked so hard to make it really special for them and their families.


“We put a lot of effort into understanding our residents, their personal histories and what they love, so we knew Gillyann in particular loved the Royal family.  It was very exciting for us to know that one of our residents met King Charles in person. It’s incredible to be able to see a photograph of the exact moment.”


Activities lead, Sally-Ann Davis was amongst those who managed the arrangements. “We all came together as a team to make it an enjoyable event for our residents,” she says, “and it was worth it.


“Everyone’s eyes were glued to the television during the ceremony. The atmosphere was amazing and we were all in great spirits.”