Wigan pub owner creates social for people with dementia after seeing her mum 'struggle'

A pub landlady has said witnessing her mum "struggle" motivated her to brighten the days of people living with dementia.

Sharon Mattin, who runs the Union Arms Pub in Tyldesley in Wigan, launched the Forgotten Regulars Dementia Group eight years ago after her mother was diagnosed.

Each month, up to 100 people with dementia, along with their carers, go to her pub for a free lunch, live music and dancing.

It offers a warm welcome to those living with the condition which can often lead to isolation.

Alzheimer's Research UK have estimated that 1.2 million people in the UK will have dementia by 2040. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

When Harry Ainscough was first diagnosed with vascular dementia, he did not want to leave the house until he and his wife Ellen started going to the pub social every month.

Mr Ainscough said: "I can remember people I joined the force with 60 years ago, but people I met last week I have no idea.

"It's like a filing cabinet - top drawers are shut but the bottom drawers are open."

What is vascular dementia?

  • Dementia is a group of symptoms associated with an ongoing decline of brain functioning.

  • Vascular dementia is a condition caused by poor blood flow in the brain.

  • Symptoms vascular dementia include memory loss, confusion, and thinking difficulties.

  • There is no cure but treatment can slow down its progression.

In 2022, 66,000 people died in England and Wales while living with dementia and there is currently no cure for the condition. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Mr Ainscough said the benefit of being a 'Forgotten Regular' is that they meet in a pub.

"The other places we go aren't pubs so this is one one day a month where I have two pints", he said.

"I drink two pints of beer a month, sometimes I am greedy and I have two and a half. That's the only time I drink nowadays."

Harry's wife, Mrs Ainscough, said: "Sharon puts a gorgeous meal every time we come.

"We've made lots of friends, all in the same position as us and it's just lovely."

Another couple, Larry and Denise Stones, have been married for more than 50 years.

Denise was diagnosed with dementia 18 months ago and is no longer able to speak.

Mr Stones said: "Well we look forward to coming because it reminds us of when we used to come before to the Labour Club in Tyldesley."

Mr Stones said it helps to be around other people and couples who are going through exactly what you are experiencing, but "I would love it more if Denise could only express what she is feeling."

Dementia is a group of symptoms associated with an ongoing decline of brain functioning. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

A recent study by Alzheimer's Research UK has revealed that one in two people in the UK will be either develop dementia or care for someone living with dementia in the future.

Alzheimer's Research UK are now calling for more to be done to search for a cure for the condition.

It is estimated there are around 700,000 people caring for those living with dementia and carers are twice as likely to experience psychological distress and poor health compared to non-carers.

Greater Manchester has the highest rate for dementia diagnosis in the North West, and has done since 2017. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Landlady Ms Mattin, who runs the Forgotten Regulars Dementia Group, said: "We started this because of the lack of places to take people and to try and curb the isolation of people.

"To help the carers, to help the people who suffer from dementia.

"I mean, my mum passed away with dementia [in 2016] and it's horrible, absolutely horrible to sit and have to see someone struggle like that."

The Forgotten Regulars Dementia Group is funded entirely by Ms Mattin and the pub continues to do fundraising events to help with the costs. 

Click here to donate to help keep the Forgotten Regulars Dementia Group going.

If you want to attend the free lunch, please contact The Union Pub first as numbers are limited.