ALZHEIMER’S Support is welcoming members back to its day clubs in Wiltshire.

The charity has worked with Wiltshire Council and Public Health England to ensure its clubs are safe to reopen and was delighted to receive official approval.

Its largest setting, the national award-winning Old Silk Works Club in Warminster, reopened its doors last week. Sidmouth Street Club in Devizes will reopen on August 18, while Mill Street in Trowbridge will follow once a new ventilation system is installed.

The clubs are a lifeline for members and their families, many of whom have found life in lockdown extremely isolating and difficult.

Wendy Johnson, whose father Terry is a member at the Sidmouth Street club, said: “The club is everything to him. We have been looking through photographs of his time there and he remembers everything about it.

"Lockdown has been catastrophic for him. His entire routine was wiped out in one fell swoop. But talking about the club has been something to hold on to. He goes on a Thursday so August 20 is printed on our hearts.”

Terry said: “I’d like to go back today. I wish it was this afternoon. I miss the comradeship.”

Alzheimer’s Support head of day care Grant Newton said after the sister club in Warminster opened: “We had been rehearsing and writing and talking about this day for weeks but it was a great unknown until the first arrival. It went much better than I dared hope and to hear the return of laughter and banter was really moving.”

Denise Fryer, whose husband Mike is a member at Old Silk Works, said: “I am delighted with the reopening because it has been a traumatic time for both of us.

“I have had so much help and support from the charity over the last few weeks and from others – but I am really delighted to have the club back for Mike.”

Grant Newton, head of day care at Alzheimer’s Support, said: “A huge amount of thought, planning and application has gone into this.

“Our plans have been scrutinised by experts and explained in great detail to families so everyone can feel reassured.

“We are opening each club in turn so we can make sure we get it absolutely right for each setting.

“While the heart and humour of the clubs will remain unchanged, there will be, of necessity, many changes in how we operate to keep people safe.”

These include setting specific guidance and risk assessment, strict infection control measures, staff wearing masks and more personal protective equipment as appropriate, and activities in smaller groups.

At lunchtime, ready-cooked meals from Trowbridge-based food company, apetito, will be served in place of the club’s usual home-cooked lunches.

The company, which works closely with Alzheimer’s Support as a corporate partner, is offering the meals free of charge to allow the charity’s staff to concentrate on members and ensure meals can be cooked safely and easily.

An apetito spokesman said: “Alzheimer’s Support does amazing work locally – we want to help wherever we can to make a real difference to people’s lives and we know how tough it has been for many individuals and their families over the past few months who are living with Alzheimer’s.”

Mr Newton said: “We are so grateful to apetito for helping us to make this possible.

“We know how desperately the clubs have been missed. We have kept in close touch with all our families by phone and I have spent the last few weeks visiting members in their own gardens.

“I found it heartbreaking at times as the social isolation people are experiencing is so damaging.

“I was asked at every visit ‘when will the day clubs open’. Now at last we can give people some good news.”

To get help from Alzheimer’s Support call 01225 776481 or fill in a self-referral form at