Hilary Kershler and her husband left their life in Australia to care for her 98-year-old father Leonard Stuckey who has dementia two and a half years ago. Leonard had been living on his own and did his own cooking and shopping, but on her regular visits to the UK Hilary discovered her father was finding it more difficult to cope.

“It’s good I got here when I did, he was coming apart at the seams. People were beginning to notice he looked scruffy and not in a good state,” says Hilary.  “He’s now forgotten he ever lived on his own.”

When she returned from Australia Hilary ‘put the feelers’ out on what services and activities might be available for her father and found Alzheimer’s Support’s Sidmouth Street club. “It would really brighten him and he would always come back with a big smile on his face. Without them, he wouldn’t be here,” says Hilary.

The club also proved to be beneficial to Hilary as she didn’t know the neighbours or have friends in Devizes. “Sidmouth Street staff and volunteers have been a great support. It’s made me feel I’ve got contacts, they’re such a friendly bunch.”

As lockdown began Hilary was pleasantly surprised to receive phone calls from Sidmouth Street staff to check on how the family was getting on and help keep their spirits up. “It's lovely to hear from Carol and Elaine and it’s so kind of them to make the phone calls. We chat about how things are, how my father is going and make sure we’ve got food in. I can talk to them about everything and have a little laugh with them. They know my father as well as I do. Friends don’t understand what we’re going through.”

Hilary says her father now spends a lot of time sleeping and has been much quieter since the club had to close during lockdown. “We’ll go for a walk up and down the road, but can’t go out anywhere. That’s what’s missing at the moment.”

Leonard does enjoy sitting out in the garden and watching Masterchef and Rick Stein on TV and imagines he’s getting the food they’re making. However, he's not generally interested in watching television.

 “I haven’t told him what’s going on, he’s lost interest in reading newspapers and I don’t put the news on in front of him” says Hilary. “Sometimes he doesn’t mind some music, but he just wants it to be quiet. He’s a very easy man to look after and very accepting. He doesn’t ask for anything so I have to read his mind.”