The co-owner of a pub has set up a support group so families with dementia sufferers do not have to experience the same isolation hers did.

Valerie Watt, 34, and her partner, Ray Hatton, 39, who own the Goat’s Gate in Whitefield, have set up the Get Together Club, a free weekly support group at the Joseph Holt pub.

The idea followed a personal shock to Valarie and her family after her mum, Mary Watt, 57, was diagnosed with Alzheimer`s.

Valarie said: “Mum was given the diagnosis and then we were more or less on our own, we were so bewildered and felt we had nowhere to turn.”

Bury Times: Valerie and Ray

Determined, to ensure other families do not experience the same isolation, she set up the group.

She added: “It`s a place for dementia sufferers and their carers to meet at the pub and enjoy each other`s company.

“We have entertainment such as music or craft activities like our recent pumpkin carving for Halloween.

“We`re here as much for the carers as the sufferers. If you need to laugh, cry, or let off steam, we`re here for each other.”

Bury Times: Meeting of the group

Since her diagnosis three years ago, Valerie said her mum has become a "different person".   

She said: “She would do anything for anyone, was the life and soul and would give her last penny to someone if they needed it …all that personality has gone.

“Often, she doesn`t recognise me or know her three grandchildren.

“Ironically, she worked in the care industry herself and it`s so upsetting what has happened to her when she was once so vital and full of life.”

The family first noticed something was wrong a year before Mary was formally diagnosed.

She began to struggle with simple tasks like putting on a seat belt or finding things.

Gradually the situation worsened – although Mary said she found it hard to admit anything was wrong since her own mother had been diagnosed with dementia when she was 52.

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Valarie said: “Mum had to be her mother`s carer so she took a lot of persuading when we could see that she was also showing symptoms.

“She just didn`t want to accept it”.

The Goat's Gate group meets every Tuesday between 11am and 1pm and there is no need to book a place.

Paul Longmire, marketing manager of Joseph Holt said: “We`re so proud of what Valerie, Ray and their helpers are doing at the Goat`s Gate.

“Alzheimer`s is a terrible and distressing illness. This group is one way to help ease some of that distress and provide a comforting presence and peace of mind.”