Life had grown quieter for former police chief inspector Jim Clark after he was diagnosed with vascular dementia. Since getting involved with Alzheimer's Support, the outgoing family man whose life had revolved around family, travel, sport and helping others, has found a way to be sociable again. His Friday morning outings with support worker Tony Marsh have become a highlight of the week – for both men.

Jim, 91, was diagnosed with vascular dementia 18 months ago. He and his family had become increasingly worried about his memory after he moved from Scotland with his wife Ann to live in their own flat within son James’ home in Wiltshire. He had already had a fall and a couple of small strokes and the diagnosis was not a shock, although it was hard at first to come to terms with.

“He had his irascible days, but now he is mostly content and we get so much support here,” said Ann, 90, a former district nurse. Now nearly blind from macular degeneration, she too benefits from Tony’s weekly visits. He drops her at Sainsbury’s in Bradford on Avon when he takes Jim out for coffee and collects her on the way back — the routine means that she is able to shop on her own for the first time in decades.

Tony said: “I drive down the lane to Avoncliff and my heart lifts up as I know they are both going to be so pleased to see me.  They are a lovely couple and we get on so well.  It’s been about 18 months now and bit by bit I have got to know so much about Jim’s past and his incredibly life story. From being down the mines at the age of 14, to fighting at Monte Cassino in the Scots Guards to being a police chief inspector for all those years in Scotland – he has had such a rich life.”

After dropping Ann at Sainsbury’s a typical morning involves driving on to Trowbridge Garden centre where the two men enjoy a coffee and the largest slice of cake they can find, before browsing in the gift section and pottering among the plants.  Jim said: “I like going out with Tony. We have the same jokes and we have a good time.”

James said: “The best thing for Dad’s mood now is Alzheimer’s Support, both Tony’s visits and the Mill Street Club. Life can be very quiet for him a lot of the time, but he loves the chat and the variety as he has always been so sociable. He and Tony have a great relationship and it’s good for Mum too.”

Care co-ordinator Jackie Ransome said: “We match our clients to support workers very carefully and as soon as I met Jim and his family I knew Tony would be a good match.  They share a background in the Forces and both have such outgoing, friendly personalities, they clicked very quickly."