Jason Bailey, owner of The Buxted Inn treated members of a dementia group to Christmas lunch yesterday.
Forty-four people were offered the drink of their choice and sat down to a meal of roast turkey and all the trimmings followed by Christmas pudding.
Father Christmas was there and festivities were completed by a round of carols and Christmas songs from a choir made up of group members and conducted by opera singer Mae Heydorn. Mae performs at Glyndeborne and other touring houses, and works with many community organisations.
The Know Dementia group has been meeting at The Buxted Inn for 15 months and project co-ordinator Peter Kirby was full of praise for Jason.
He added: “Without this guy we wouldn’t be able to do all we do. He understands all about us and his generosity is unsurpassed, not just at Christmas but 12 months of the year.”
In the summer Jason funded a day-trip for group members to Eastbourne. They enjoyed afternoon tea and spent a couple of hours relaxing in the seaside town before their return bus journey to Buxted.
Know Dementia members meet over coffee at The Buxted Inn every Tuesday morning and there are similar groups in Uckfield, Crowborough, Lewes and Peacehaven.
The aim is to provide an environment that is safe, welcoming and dismantles any aspect of stigma around dementia. People can be themselves and pressure is taken off the family while the café is in operation.
Jason said he was pleased to host group meetings and to organise and fund special events for members.
He said he was continuing the work of his parents Jackie and Ted who came to The Buxted Inn 33 years ago.
There was one story they told that struck a chord within him. One of their regulars used to bring his wife, who had been diagnosed with dementia, to the pub and she would often head back there on her own if she left home without her husband realising.
She was always welcomed in and would spend time in the kitchen cooking with Ted before going home with her husband.
“This has happened since then too. People look on the pub as a safe haven and if they come in unexpectedly we settle them down with a coffee in comfortable surroundings while we ring their partner to let them know all is well,” said Jason.
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