Blackpool’s Tower Ballroom hosts annual Dancing with Dementia afternoon

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Living with dementia is tough both for the sufferers and their families.

But the chance to step out on Blackpool’s famous Tower Ballroom lifted the hearts and spirits of everyone who took part in the annual Dancing with Dementia afternoon at the majestic landmark.

And there were special reasons to celebrate for two of the dancers.

Sprightly pensioner Louisa Bastable, or Jackie as she is known to family and friends, was marking her 102nd birthday, while Aldo Chiappe reached his 88th birthday.

Aldo is the grandfather of Luca Vettese, manager at Notarianni’s ice cream parlour in South Shore.

They joined other people with dementia and their carers last Friday to enjoy an afternoon of ballroom dancing, refreshments and afternoon tea.

There was also chance for carers and families to find out about the support available for looking after people with the illness.

Jackie’s granddaughter Sharon Vickers said: “My grandmother can party with the best of them.

“Though her short term memory is poor, she is on the button when it comes to her past life experiences, movies, music, dances and romances.

“Last Christmas Day she danced with her zimmer frame to David Bowie – a woman of impeccable taste.

“For the past 10 years, Jackie and the family have said this may be her last birthday so let`s celebrate.

“I have realised she has no intention of going anywhere and this is all a ploy to getting lots of presents and a party. It has certainly worked!

“As you can imagine at this grand age, birthday parties usually consist of a few family members and stories of old. But not this year – we celebrated the day at the Dancing with Dementia tea dance.”

Jackie is cared for by her son Malcolm Bastable and his wife Marilyn at their home in Lytham. The family understand the symptoms of dementia and recognise that Jackie has memory loss.

Sharon added: “It is with sadness that the family knows Jackie will have forgotten this special day the following morning, but we won’t.

“Jackie`s memories are with her family for safe keeping.”

Blackpool is bidding to become a dementia-friendly town.

Coun Amy Cross, cabinet member for reducing health inequalities on Blackpool Council, said: “Many happy returns to Jackie. To reach 102 is a fantastic achievement in itself, but to do so with such a lust for life is remarkable.

“Jackie’s family will have cherished memories that they can keep of their mother in Blackpool Tower’s iconic ballroom.

“Dementia can be scary for everyone involved but these types of events help us to reach out to people in the community and show support is available.

“It’s essential people are equipped to recognise the signs of dementia within family members and friends.”

Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease or a series of strokes.

The Alzheimer’s Society runs a scheme called Dementia Friends.

A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it is like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action. Anyone of any age can be a Dementia Friend.

From helping someone to find the right bus to spreading the word about dementia on social media, every action counts.

For more information about how Blackpool Council is helping Blackpool to become a dementia friendly town or to become a Dementia Friend, visit