TEAMING UP: Author Jessica Shepherd chatting to members of the Barnard Castle Dementia Friendly Town steering group earlier this year. From left, Nicky Tulloch, Lesley Taylor, of Teesdale YMCA, chairman Ian Kirkbride, Linda Bird, of Teesdale Action Partne
TEAMING UP: Author Jessica Shepherd chatting to members of the Barnard Castle Dementia Friendly Town steering group earlier this year. From left, Nicky Tulloch, Lesley Taylor, of Teesdale YMCA, chairman Ian Kirkbride, Linda Bird, of Teesdale Action Partne

A SHORT play designed to educate young children about living with dementia is “back on the agenda”.

The Barnard Castle Dementia Friendly Town steering group teamed up earlier this year with children’s author Jessica Shepherd to come up with the play, based on her picture book Grandma.

It tells the touching story of a young boy’s encounter with dementia and its effect on families. The group agreed turning the book into a short stage production to be performed in schools would be an ideal way of raising awareness of the condition with the younger generation.

However, the project was put on ice due to a lack of funding.

Town councillor Ian Kirkbride, who is chairman of the dementia friendly group, said further efforts to secure cash would be made in the new year.

Updating colleagues at November’s town council meeting, he said: “It is back on the agenda. Work on developing a playlet based on the book Grandma is ongoing.

“A meeting with Jessica Shepherd produced ideas for a simpler form of presentation than that previously suggested.

“The Castle Players, who will be providing actors for this as part of their community involvement, are to prepare a bid for funding to the James Knox Trust in February, by which time the playlet should be completed.”

Cllr Kirkbride said work to enhance Barnard Castle’s status as a dementia friendly town was continuing. Training has been given to staff at The Witham, who have offered their premises for the training of others in the town.

“This will take place in the new year and will be delivered by Faith Walkwell, from the Alzheimer’s Society.”

He said the steering group continued to work closely with the emergency services.

Old Well

Adam Hall, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue’s district manager for Wear and Tees now attends meetings.

A project involving Teesdale YMCA to produce “fiddle mats” for those living with dementia had been successful, added Cllr Kirkbride.

Some 30 mats had been produced and these will be distributed to residents at The Manor House care home before Christmas.

“The information leaflet giving details of dementia friendly activities in the town has been well received and an update is to be produced in January,” he said.

“The book club at the doctors’ surgery, having seen the leaflet, offered to donate books on dementia to the group.

“Ten were purchased and copies made available to appropriate groups.”

Cllr Kirkbride said the dementia group been delighted to be shortlisted for honours in the Mercury’s Pride of Teesdale Awards.

“Although we did not win our group, we were honoured to receive the accolade after only one year,” he said.

“We continue to welcome interested parties to our monthly meetings and to provide a link between individuals and organisations.”

Cllr Kirkbride said volunteers would man a stall at the town’s Christmas lights switch-on to raise awareness of the dementia group and raise money for more fiddle mats.