Cricket helps my husband with dementia be as active and social as possible

Caroline's husband, Tony, lives with Alzheimer's. She details the impact of his diagnosis on the couple, and how cricket continues to help Tony socialise as much as he can.

Tony and I lived nearby each other in London, but we met after he left university, and I’d just left school. 

We married in 1973 and had two children – Alexander and Henrietta. Shortly after, we moved to Lindfield, Sussex. I worked as a social worker, and Tony was a barrister, so we had busy working lives.

Tony was appointed a judge in 1996 to the Lewes Crown Court. He also sat at the Old Bailey and Court of Appeal Criminal Division.

Tony is in a shirt and tie in the middle of a group of people, looking into the distance

Tony had a successful career as a judge and barrister.

Hearing and memory loss

I noticed something wasn’t quite right when Tony started having memory loss. Since Tony’s hearing had been getting worse, we thought it might be tied in with that. 

But I was concerned that it wasn’t just hearing loss that was causing Tony’s symptoms.

Tony didn’t acknowledge the problem, and it went on for months.

Until one day, Tony didn’t remember something he should have. I confronted him, and he finally admitted that he knew something was off. That was when we knew we had to do something.

Seeking help for symptoms

I was worried that doctors wouldn’t believe me at the time – Tony was quite switched on, and still very articulate. 

Tony had two assessments followed by a scan, and in March 2020 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. We were very shocked. 

Getting the diagnosis was really tough, but we got no support due to the pandemic.

Cricket should be unforgettable

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Adjusting to a dementia diagnosis

After Tony’s diagnosis, I felt somewhat relieved. Most people were very supportive about it, though we did have one or two crass reactions. 

A huge change to deal with was that Tony was made to stop driving. He finds it difficult to process new information, and he can get anxious if he thinks he’ll be separated from me. 

His physical condition has also deteriorated. 

I felt sad about this for a very long time, as it’s changed the dynamic of our relationship. Now everything falls on me. 

It’s a kind of bereavement of expectation. Everything we planned to do in retirement has been taken away from us.

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But I do believe it’s much better to get a diagnosis, than to not know what’s wrong. 

Tony’s love of cricket

Tony was a good rugby and cricket player when he was younger. 

He loves cricket, and in the 80s he helped form the Armadillos Cricket Club. Along with a group of friends, he used to go to Twickenham for the internationals, stocked with supplies from their wives.

They wanted to say thank you to us, so organised a friendly cricket match where we could all get together and enjoy the sport. After this, a few local teams asked them for matches. 

The group did lots of cricket tours, including to Corfu and Barbados.

In 2009, a project began for the cricket club to take up residence at Sheffield Park. The next generation of players started taking over running the club, but Tony still enjoys going when he can.

Tony Gall smiling, holding a young girl's arm

Tony was a huge cricket fan, and continues to enjoy the game where he can.

How sport helps

Sport is huge for Tony. He still reads the sports pages every day but doesn’t engage with it as much as he used to.

We go to a Sporting Memories group meet up every week. It helps to keep Tony socially active and independent as much as possible.

As Tony’s condition has progressed, he doesn’t understand some of what’s going on during the test cricket now, he finds it hard to concentrate and process new information.  

We both still go to watch matches at the Armadillos cricket club from time to time. 


Great cricket should be unforgettable. But for thousands of people living with dementia, sadly this isn’t the case.

By donating to Alzheimer’s Society, you will be making a huge difference to the lives of people living with dementia, funding life-changing support and pioneering research.

Help us be there for people like Caroline and Tony