French bowls helps dementia sufferers

French bowls helps dementia sufferers

PETANQUE AT THE PARK ... Liz Williams, front, with the Dementia Friends group in North Marine Park.
PETANQUE AT THE PARK ... Liz Williams, front, with the Dementia Friends group in North Marine Park.

A GROUP of kind-hearted volunteers have turned part of a South Tyneside park into a dementia-friendly area.

The Friends of North and South Marine Parks in South Shields have teamed up with the Alzheimer’s Society to reach out to people with the debilitating condition.

Members of the group have undertaken hour-long awareness sessions with the charity’s staff to become Dementia Friends, and increase their understanding of the disease.

And they are putting their expertise to good use at North Marine Park, where petanque sessions aimed at people with dementia and their carers are held on a monthly basis from spring to autumn.
One of the Friends of North and South Parks, Jack McCaffery, from Whitburn, whose late wife Cathy had dementia, waxed lyrical about the venture.

He said: “My wife had dementia and so this projec
t, which is brilliant, means a lot to me. You can see what pleasure people with dementia get from playing petanque.

“A lot of people with dementia don’t get out to do anything, and even carers can be unsure about taking them out and about, but they now know they can come here without any problems.

“When my wife died, I was pretty low and I was brought out of it by Liz Williams from the Alzheimer’s Society. We started a sensory garden and that got me into being one of the Friends, and now I do my bit to help them as well.”

South Shields-based Alzheimer’s Society dementia support worker Mrs Williams has been working closely with the group, and set up their Dementia Friends session.

She said: “They set up a special petanque session for people with dementia, and their carers, to come down and have a bit of fun.

“The sessions made them more aware of the impact that dementia can have on people, so they could support them even if their cognitive skills weren’t good and they were having difficulty with the bowling. It is an enjoyable group and a huge success.

“They have created a really warm, dementia-friendly atmosphere within their community garden, and hopefully other groups in South Tyneside, such as shops and leisure facilities, will take a leaf out of their book and become dementia-friendly.

“I became a Dementia Friends Champion and I run awareness sessions, but anyone can become a champion and deliver training, and I’m hoping more get involved.

“South Tyneside is second-best for dementia diagnosis. Let’s make the area the most dementia-friendly.”


  1. I believe it is important for children to understand Alzheimer's disease so they can still interact lovingly with family members who have this disease. I am a 17 year old college junior, Alzheimer's researcher, and Alzheimer's advocate.I grew up as a caregiver to my great grandmother who had Alzheimer's disease. After her death, I founded a nonprofit organization that has distributed over 28,000 puzzles to Alzheimer's facilities. Recently, the book I coauthored explaining Alzheimer's disease to children became available on Amazon.My hope was to provide some helpful coping mechanisms to the many children dealing with Alzheimer's disease among their family members. 50 percent of the profits from this book will go to Alzheimer's causes. I think this book could help a lot of children and families. "Why Did Grandma Put Her Underwear in Refrigerator? A Book Explaining Alzheimer's Disease to Children."


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I always say that we may have this illness, but we are all so different.

This is my own daily problems, but I would gladly share anyone elses, if they send them in,

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