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Birchanger family bowled over by community's support of their charity cricket match for dementia café

A Birchanger man who was diagnosed with dementia three years ago was given one more chance to play cricket when his family organised a charity Twenty20 match in his honour.

The game, which was held at Birchanger Cricket Club at the start of September, raised £3,000 forDunmow Dementia Café, which has provided Jeffrey Squires, 65, his wife Pauline and three grown-up children, Matt, Jo and Jack, with solace in the wake of the devastating diagnosis.

Jack, 31, a former pupil at The Bishop’s Stortford High School, explained: “Because we're on the cusp of Herts and Essex, we're entitled to services in Uttlesford. There’s a dementia café that meets every Monday and it’s run by volunteers. All the volunteers have a connection to dementia; either they have had a loved one die or be affected by dementia.”

The Birchanger cricket players who helped to raise £3k for Dunmow's dementia cafe(16443015)
The Birchanger cricket players who helped to raise £3k for Dunmow's dementia cafe(16443015)

The dementia café – run by the Council for Voluntary Service Uttlesford (CVSU) – has been running for just over a year. In that time, it has grown from a small pilot group with a couple of members into a thriving social peer-support group.

“Unfortunately [Dad] can no longer work or drive, but he was able to participate in the day,” said Jack. “My dad’s always loved cricket and we’re always playing for Birchanger Cricket Club.”

Jack, who lives in London and works for the NHS as a safeguarding children’s nurse, said that his father now struggles to play cricket, so the event may have provided him with his last ever chance to take part, and he had a wonderful time batting and bowling among friends in the sun.

The Squires were supported on the day by the cricket club and Birchanger Sports and Social Club. More than 100 people watched the game, including dementia café volunteers and members, plus the UK’s 2018 EuroVision singer SuRie, a friend of Jack’s, who said she was “blown away” by their event.

Ross Leavers, of Birchanger Cricket Club, said: “Part of the reason for the family arranging a cricket match [was] to raise awareness that opportunities for young dementia sufferers to partake in physical activity are extremely limited.”

Jack had initially set a target to raise £500 but has accumulated £3,025. This was generated by a raffle, auctions, cake sale, barbecue and generous donations from the players and spectators.

Ross said: “The organisers are hoping to make this an annual event, and Birchanger Cricket Club, who will be celebrating their 125th anniversary in 2020, would be more than happy to play hosts again.”

If you would like to add to the Squires’ total, visit their online donation page.

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