Royston Rotary Club’s Memory Café celebrates first birthday

Royston Rotary's Memory Café is celebrating its first birthday.

Royston Rotary's Memory Café is celebrating its first birthday. - Credit: Archant

Royston Rotarians are celebrating the first birthday of their Memory Café.

When the club’s David Izod first thought of starting the venture for people with memory loss and their carers, the prospects were said to have seemed less than encouraging.

A spokesman said: “Others had tried similar things in the past, but they hadn’t survived, and many of David’s Rotary Club colleagues were doubtful.

“Did the club have the skills needed to look after people with dementia? What were the risks? Could the club provide enough volunteers? Was there a suitable venue in the town?”

A year after the first meeting, it seems all those doubts have been resolved. Royston’s Memory Café is attracting an average of 16 guests, plus their carers, to the monthly meetings at The Old Barn in Upper King Street.

“Dementia isn’t just about losing your memory” said David.

“It can affect thinking, perception, communicating, and doing everyday tasks. The world can become a confusing and frightening place to sufferers, but we aim to make our monthly meetings open, caring, and above all, enjoyable for people with dementia and their carers”.

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Each meeting has a different theme such as songs from the 50s or a day by the sea, designed to stimulate happy memories of earlier days. There is always tea and biscuits, an enough Rotarians to ensure everyone has a friendly host to chat with – though perhaps the most popular member of staff was Spider, the caring dog.

David said: “There’s no charge to people attending the Memory Café. Running costs have been supported by Royston Rotary Club. In addition, the parent Rotary District and Royston Methodist Church have both given grant support, and many other local groups have helped too. Lastly, we have been blessed with the whole-hearted support of Rotarians, wives and sweet-hearts and friends in the operation of the Café. We’re grateful to them all.”

Will the Memory Café continue? For sure, says David. “I think we’ve established the need, and shown we can be true dementia friends - so now the challenge is to do even better in 2019.”