May 15 2018

Alzheimer's Support's new Warminster Dementia Centre was officially opened by the Marchioness of Lansdowne last night. 

The Wiltshire charity spent nine months renovating the first floor of the Victorian silk mill in Beech Avenue to create a light-filled space for its third, and largest, day club.

Old Silk Works Club is centred around a spacious main room with an open-plan kitchen, an indoor garden and quiet, retro-fitted lounge. It has space for 12 members each day, four days a week, and will host an art group for people living with dementia and their carers every Monday. The centre also has a welcoming reception area and office space for the charity's Dementia Advisers and Home Support coordinator for the area. 

Opening a dementia centre in the town is a long cherished dream for Alzheimer's Support.

CEO Babs Harris said: "When we found this beautiful old building after a two-year search for premises, we knew we had found what we were looking for. We also knew what a challenge it would be to convert the space to our needs - and to pay for it.

"This has been an absolutely fantastic joint effort by everyone who works for Alzheimer's Support and everyone who loves us here in Warminster. It was made easy because the community really joined in with us."

The project was kick-started with a £50,000 grant from the Wolfson Foundation. Since then another £40,000 has been raised, and fundraising is continuing. 

Around 120 people attended last night's opening where Lady Lansdowne, Alzheimer's Support's patron, cut a cake made and donated by Warminster cake-maker Michelle Meadows.  

Michelle, whose grandmother is a founder member of Old Silk Works Club, said: "My Nanny was there on the first day last week. She had such a wonderful day. The facilities are amazing and the staff are fantastic. It is so great to have this in the town."

Anne Steel, whose partner John attends the club, said: "Old Silk Works is within walking distance of our home so that it amazing for us. I hope the club will be a way for him to stay engaged with others as he spends a lot of time alone and he misses social interaction. It will be so good for him to feel accepted as part of this new community. 

"For me as John's carer the day gives me a precious few hours to make choices for myself while John is safe and happy. The importance of that when you are caring for someone can't be overstated."

At the opening event Babs gave special thanks to Mike Ridgway who managed the renovations project as a volunteer. She said: "Without you this simply would not be here." 

What about a bridge?

She also thanked Jack Konynenburg RIBA, who also gave his time for free. He solved the trickiest part of the build - reaching the first floor without using a lift - by creating a gently sloping bridge designed to be in keeping with the architectural heritage of the industrial building. 

He said: "This is one of the best projects I have ever done. It is something for the community, something to improve people's lives, it is a gutsy piece of architecture that will get better as it weathers. Being involved in this has been absolutely thrilling."

Head of Day Care Grant Newton said: "This has been the work of many hands and we are enormously grateful to everyone who has fundraised for us, donated items for the club or turned up to help us clean and paint. The volunteer teams have been fantastic and this has been a true community project."

Alzheimer's Support is continuing to fundraise for the club, which will cost £140,000 each year to run.

Old Silk Works Day Club - for more information about the club and how to come along.

Volunteering at Old Silk Works

Thanks to our fundraisers

How you can help with fundraising

crowd photo courtesy Heart of Warminster 

More photographs of the club's first days are on our Facebook page