Warriors players Gareth Simpson and Justin Clegg swapped rugby balls for plates and dishes when they helped out at the Warriors Community Foundation’s Tackling Dementia Café Christmas lunch at Sixways.
Scrum-half Simpson and lock Clegg joined Warriors Women players Carys Phillips and Paige Farries and Foundation staff to help serve lunch to people living with dementia, their family members and carers who attend the weekly café which is held at Sixways every Wednesday morning.
The lunch was followed by a disco and provided a fun and sociable atmosphere for all and, for some, a welcome opportunity to enjoy a Christmas lunch in the company of others.
“Justin and Gareth are active within the Foundation’s Dementia Cafe and regularly attend sessions when they are not training,” said Carol Hart, Head of Warriors Community Foundation.
“They were both on hand at the Christmas party to help with serving food and making sure everyone had a good time.
“The Warriors Community Foundation strives to create safe environments for people to engage and socialise.
“Our Dementia Cafe is an example of best practice which we have developed particularly over the last two years where it has grown from strength to strength.”
Among those who enjoyed the festivities were Anne Molloy and her father Patrick Clifton who played for Worcester RFC in the 1950s. They have been attending the Dementia Café on a regular basis since it first opened its doors in October 2017.
“My mother was diagnosed with dementia in 2011 and we used to go to a monthly dementia cafe lunch at a local church which put on by Alzheimer’s,” Molloy said.
“One day the organiser came round with leaflets saying Worcester Warriors were starting a weekly lunchtime café. Dad said: perfect, mum loves rugby. Dad also used to play for the club in the 1950s.
“At the first meeting there were four of us – mum, dad me and my sister – and just as many volunteers.
“So, we were the original members. We have been coming every week since and seen it grow in strength. It’s wonderful and I couldn’t cope without it.
“A lot of people come here every Wednesday and a lot of bonds have been formed between them.
“A lot of people, when they get older, spend Christmas Day on their own which is very sad. So, to come here with friends is a joyous occasion. You see people’s faces light up. It’s such a special day.
“The Dementia Café is a real lifeline for people. It’s the highlight pf their week.
“They know they are going to get out of the house, they come with their carers so they feel safe. We are always in the same room and the volunteers are the same each week.
“It’s friendly and it’s warm, there’s a lot of camaraderie, lots of fun and jokes between people. You see the same people but if you arrive at a different time you might sit with different people so it’s a wide circle of friends and great fun.”