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Friends reunited through shared experience of dementia

Published on 22 May 2024 02:17 PM

Richard and I joined Age UK Cheshire Bright Memories weekly group at roughly the same time. We coincidentally sat next to each other and, while chatting over lunch, discovered that we were the same age and grew up in the same village. We discovered that we had been childhood friends.

We met aged 14 or so after attending the local council school in Stockton Heath, Cheshire and remained friends for most of our early life. The area in which we lived was quite interesting. As well as being close to the Manchester Ship Canal, which linked American shipping to Manchester Docks, we were quite close to the Bridgewater Canal with its frequent coal barges still going today from Manchester through Cheshire towards Wales.

The crew of the American ships often used to fire us small packets of American chewing gum by catapult to us as they passed by – much appreciated! There were also many occasions when we would ride on our bikes to the local Stretton airfield (now

closed) to watch the wartime Spitfire aircraft taking off and landing. This was very pleasant countryside for bike rides, and I remember the very many walks in the forests and countryside with my father on a Saturday morning – the simple life!

As young 13/14-year-old friends, we started to notice the local girls! In particular, one dashing girl called Olwyn, who used to dress dramatically in bright clothes. Unfortunately for me, she was more attracted to my friend, Richard! Later in life, when we went to different schools, we lost touch for almost 70 years. Our shared experience of dementia brought us back together, enabling us to reminisce and enjoy our friendship again.

Author: Keith Riley

Member of Age UK Cheshire Bright Memories Group