Peter is a life-long Aston Villa fan, a team that his daughter Laura is also passionate about. Since Peter's dementia diagnosis in 2020, the football club have helped to make sure he can still attend matches with additional support.
One of my early memories of Aston Villa matches is going to the social club with my dad beforehand. There he would have a pint and we'd pick up a crate for me to stand on so I could see the pitch.
I was eight years old, but Dad has been going to watch Aston Villa since he was four.
One of Dad's fondest memories was when I was a mascot for the club aged 11, and we got to meet the players and manager.
Dad’s a massive Aston Villa fan - if you cut him in half he’d be claret and blue!
Dad passed his passion for the Villa on to me. I love the atmosphere. When the ball hits the back of the net, there isn’t another feeling like it. That’s why we want to help Dad to keep going to watch them for as long as we can, because he enjoys it the most.
Noticing a difference in Dad
In 2016 after Dad retired, we noticed my intelligent dad start to forget things, and put items in the wrong place.
We were concerned, and Dad knew there was something wrong, and so went to the GP. They referred him to the local memory service who carried out some tests. In August 2018, Dad was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
Over the next 18 months, Dad was monitored by the hospital as he declined gradually, but then lockdown hit. That's when Dad started to deteriorate rapidly, and no longer knew that my mum was his wife.
Dad had a brain scan, then a lot of virtual appointments, before being told in October 2020 that he now had Alzheimer’s disease.
It was devastating, but also a relief as we had some clarity.
For Dad, the relief was he knew he wasn’t just going mad and there was something medically wrong with him. We knew what we were dealing with, and could get on with day to day life while managing the Alzheimer’s.
Contacting the club about Dad
Obviously during the pandemic, Dad had to stop attending football matches anyway, but then as the new season was coming up, we started to think about renewing his ticket.
I was hesitant as Dad hadn’t been to a game for so long, but I knew he wanted to get back out there to support Villa.
I decided to approach the club directly and explained Dad’s condition, and they were amazing.
The club gave us a direct contact and offered us a complimentary personal assistant season ticket. This meant Dad could bring someone along to each game for support, which was either myself or my nephew.
Dad's eyes still light up when he sees the pitch. Evening games do muddle him up a bit the next day, so depending on how Dad's doing, we decide whether it’s right for him.
Keep the passion going
Talking to Dad about football can be hit and miss now, but he remembers some things about football that amaze me.
There was a question on TV about the 1981 European cup final we were in, asking who we played and what was the score, and he knew it.
If you have a passion, I think it’s so important to continue with it for as long as you can. Even if you have to change the experience.
Football grounds are getting better.
I’d recommend contacting the club if you have any concerns or questions. If you don’t ask what is available, you won’t know.
Dad went to the last game of last season, and already has his next season ticket.
I can’t wait to be back there with him.
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