A SUPPORT group set up by a grieving daughter during lockdown has helped hundreds of other people who lost loved ones to dementia.

Julie Child had seen Alzheimer’s gradually turn her mother into an almost-unrecognisable person while helping to care for her over nine years.

A bad fall on Boxing Day 2019 led to a hospital stay from which she never returned home. When Julie struggled to find suitable support to help her through this unusual grieving process, especially during lockdown, Julie decided to start Forget-Me-Not For Dementia Loss.

The 53-year-old from Abbey Meads has since seen it grow to include more than 430 members.

She said: “I was at a loose end because there’s not much out there which deals with the specific sort of grief you get with dementia, where you already start mourning them a little when the shocking diagnosis is made.

“It’s devastating to see the the person you love fade away and each stage the condition moves into feels like another loss - incontinence, memory problems, hours of crying and pacing, wandering off.

“They talk about people who died years ago as if they’re still here, and forget people who died recently have died, it’s mindboggling. Then when you actually lose them, it’s still shocking.

“You are used to taking care of someone 24 hours a day for many years, then suddenly there’s nothing. It’s a savage and vile condition.

“I felt lucky because I had a counsellor from my GP surgery but I thought that if I needed this support, surely other people do too, so that’s how the group began.”

The group sells glassware at The Flower Meadow in Greenmeadow and hosts fundraisers to donate to the Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia UK.

This Sunday, they will release 200 doves in memory of the members’ loved ones. The group held a similar event last year and it raised hundreds of pounds for the two charities.

Through the power of social media, the group has members across the UK, as well as a few each in Canada, the USA, and Africa, who will watch the event virtually.

Julie added: “Never in a million years did I think the group would grow this much.

“The comments we get are so lovely, we get sent bouquets and gifts, it’s quite humbling and a real privilege to support other people who are going through the same journey with someone who understands how they feel.

“People say they don’t know what they’d do without us, it makes me emotional.

“The doves are a symbol of peace and this event will raise awareness of dementia. Christmas is not the best time of year for everyone, so this is a good gift.”