COVENTRY celebrity singer Dave Willetts has become a patron of a local charity that runs subsidised holidays and day trips for people with Dementia.
The announcement follows a £10,000 Big Lottery grant that means the charity Cherish can also employ professional help with holiday planning and business development.
For the last 30 years, Dave has been one of this country’s leading musical theatre stars.
He was the first person to play the leading roles in both Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera, among others.
For the last three years, he has led the singing for the ‘BRAIN sessions’ in Coventry on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Society.
This is now the biggest attended session in the UK, says Cherish.
Cherish runs two short holidays and two day trips each year for people with Dementia in the Coventry, Warwickshire and Solihull area who are accompanied by a partner or other family member.
Cherish has been running holidays since 2006, led by retired occupational therapist Janet Wright, who recognised the therapeutic benefits of subsidised holidays and trips for couples living with Dementia, but realised no-one was doing it locally.
Until now, the charity has relied entirely on volunteers.
Janet said: “We are so pleased that Dave is to be our patron. Dave has an obvious understanding of the needs of people with dementia and their carers or partners.
“The timing is perfect. The Lottery grant gives us a paid Holiday Planner and Project Manager for a year.
“Feedback from our guests is hugely positive and we want to do more. But, until now, we haven’t had the capacity.
“The Lottery grant gives us until May next year to test new approaches and develop a business plan that will show how we can expand.”
Dave said: “I am delighted to be patron of Cherish.
“The impact of dementia on people you love is close to my heart. Caring for a partner or family member with dementia is full-on and organising dementia friendly trips and holidays can be draining, on top of everything else. Cherish does it all for you and the benefits are priceless.”
Four-night holidays are now being organised for October and May.
For enquiries, contact Holiday organiser, Carol Speed, on 07597 272295.