80-year-old man shaves head in aid of Alzheimers Society after wife's diagnosis

Barry decided to brave the shave on his 80th birthday Credit: Alzheimer's Society

A Bristol man has shaved his head and beard to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society following his wife's diagnosis and journey with dementia.

Barrie Nash from Bitton decided to shave off his locks on his 80th birthday and has raised more than £700.

Barrie is hopeful his birthday trim will help to generate vital funds to support the 4,730 people living with the disease in the city, which now includes his wife Carol.

Barrie and Carol’s daughter Debbie says her 79-year-old mum was diagnosed about five years ago following some unusual behaviour.

Carol Nash before her diagnosis Credit: Alzheimer's Society

“There were several déjà vu moments when we were watching TV on a Saturday evening. Strictly Come Dancing was being broadcast and Mum would say she’d seen the programme before and the same happened with live football. This got so bad that Dad stopped watching the TV otherwise Mum would leave the living room.

"She would also get frustrated when she couldn't remember things, make memories or dream and when we tried to explain she was ill, she became very anxious.”

Carol worked in a bank and various offices as well as a large hardware store which she loved and had lots of hobbies.

Debbie said “She loved to sing and still has a lovely voice- if you sing her a few lines of a song she carries it on. Sadly, this horrid disease has wiped out at least 40 years of Mum’s memory and continues to creep across her brain like an unrelenting fog.

“After numerous falls, a hospital bed was delivered and Mum has pretty much-been bed ridden ever since. She watches TV, which is bizarre as that's the first thing she started to find difficult, and she eats far too much sweet stuff but it keeps her going and happy.”

“I would describe Dad as eccentric. He decided to grow a ponytail and wear bright colours just like Billy Connolly. Before Mum got ill, the two of them were members of various fuchsia societies- Dad would grow them in a huge greenhouse in the back garden and Mum would dress them for shows and give speeches.

"Between them, they won awards which included ‘Bitton in Bloom’ for their front garden three times. Dad won it last year- I think his gardening has kept him grounded but now he sits with Mum more to talk about old times and sing together.”

The couple met whilst working in a cake shop in Bristol and were married in 1961. They shared a fondness for animals and kept bunny rabbits as pets.

The couple have been married for 62 years Credit: Alzheimer's Society

Over time, Carol became easily confused and Debbie remembers more déjà vu moments when she would say she’d been somewhere only the week before but in fact hadn’t been there for years.

Debbie said, “Mum then realised that something wasn’t right and asked Dad to take her to see her doctor, which is when the tests began. Luckily we didn’t need to try and coax her to see her doctor which I know other people find themselves having to do.

"When Mum eventually did receive the news from her doctor, she phoned me up and in a really lighthearted breezy way told me she had dementia.

"That was the only time she ever mentioned her condition but when trying to explain to Mum that she had dementia, Ian was told by Mum firmly that she wasn’t ill.”

Alzheimer’s Society’s Community Fundraiser Zena Jones said, “We are very grateful to Barrie for raising over £590 for charity. Every single donation makes a difference, whether it’s life-changing support, ground-breaking research or creating societal change to improve the lives of people affected by dementia, now and in the future.

“Nobody should have to face dementia alone but too many people are left without the support they need and deserve.

"Thanks to Alzheimer’s Society supporters, like Barrie, we can be there for people affected by dementia, helping them through the hardest and most frightening times.”