Wild West brought to life at dementia hub

BURY: 150th volunteer visit from ClarkeCare Gatehouse, Dettingen Way, Bury St Edmunds Elaine Channen with Lorraine Clarke and Lynsey Coote and Amanda Bloomfield, with clients Peter Gayfer, Sandra Thompson and Nancy Oliver. Picture Mark Westley
BURY: 150th volunteer visit from ClarkeCare Gatehouse, Dettingen Way, Bury St Edmunds Elaine Channen with Lorraine Clarke and Lynsey Coote and Amanda Bloomfield, with clients Peter Gayfer, Sandra Thompson and Nancy Oliver. Picture Mark Westley
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The Wild West has been brought to life at a dementia hub in Bury St Edmunds this week, while the charity also marked a volunteering milestone.

Gatehouse, in Dettingen Way, held a country and western week at its dementia hub, kicking off proceedings on Monday with a visit from a horse courtesy of Hill Farm Stables Riding School, in Elmswell.

Gatehouse are having a Country and western week. They arranged for a horse to visit      PICTURE: Mecha Morton

Gatehouse are having a Country and western week. They arranged for a horse to visit PICTURE: Mecha Morton

Elaine Channen, Gatehouse dementia hub facilitator, said the visit had been a sensory experience for many, with people able to touch, stroke and smell the animal.

“We have some partially-sighted people as well, so it was a lovely experience for them,” she said.

“One man wanted to get on the horse and another lady said she used to look after a horse when she was in the Land Army.

“That was the whole point of the horse coming in – to bring those sorts of memories alive.”

In addition to the equine visit, country and western-style food was on the menu all week, a colourful mural – including cardboard cacti – was created, staff dressed up in themed costume every day and some card sharks tried their luck.

“At the ‘Gatehouse Saloon’ we just had to have a card table,” added Elaine.

Meanwhile, Gatehouse has also marked a volunteering milestone.

ClarkeCare, which is based at Nowton Court Village, supports Gatehouse by sending any of its staff with gaps in their schedule to volunteer at the dementia hub, at the care agency’s expense.

Every week ClarkeCare sends a list of volunteers, days and times to Elaine, with the 150th volunteer visit taking place last week.

“I think what ClarkeCare are doing is amazing community spirit,” said Elaine. “Their volunteer visits make a big difference. We are a charity and without volunteers it would be very hard for us.

“Our volunteers are the foundation of what we do and we love all of them.”