Peter Lyttle will officially open the Freshers cafe at the Dukes Theatre on May 30 together with Dr Penny Foulds and Professor David Allsop from Lancaster University’s Defying Dementia campaign.
The café offers a friendly, relaxed get-together, for people over the age of 40 with early onset neurological conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s and Motor Neuron Disease, and their families and friends.
Dr Foulds said: “Knowing that others really understand makes a difference, and this can grow into a support network. Each café provides a setting where people feel welcomed and valued.”
Peter was diagnosed with vascular dementia at the age of 58, and after identifying the large number of younger people with Alzheimer’s or dementia, he set up the first Freshers Young Onset Café.
He was first diagnosed after several incidents made him suspect he had a problem.
He ordered some clothes online in the wrong size, showed up a week early to meet friends and went to the cashpoint without knowing what it was for.
The diagnosis of vascular diagnosis shattered his life.
“I just stood there on my own and felt there was nobody there to help me. I’d stopped smoking for six months then and the first thing I did was I went and bought 20 cigarettes.
‘I was scared, confused. I felt so bad and so down.”
He was rescued by attending an Alzheimer’s café and he is now dedicated to helping others.
“When someone comes to a group and feels safe and relaxed enough to speak for the first time in a long time, that’s just wonderful. Seeing their partner’s face light up when all a sudden the person they love starts to come to life again – that’s worth a million pounds to me.’
Dr Foulds said: “Younger people are more likely to still be working when they are diagnosed. Many will have significant financial commitments such as a mortgage. They often have children to care for and dependent parents too.
“Their lives tend to be more active and they have hopes, dreams and ambitions to fulfil.”
There are currently two Freshers Cafes in Blackpool, one in St Anne’s and one in Longridge near Preston.
Freshers Lancaster is launched at The Dukes, Lancaster, on Wednesday 30th May, with live music from 4.30pm.