Daughter praises Emmerdale dementia storyline

A nurse whose late mother fought a 10-year battle with Alzheimer's disease has praised a leading television show for its portrayal of the illness.
Gemma Little with a picture of her mother Anne
Picture Jane ColtmanGemma Little with a picture of her mother Anne
Picture Jane Coltman
Gemma Little with a picture of her mother Anne Picture Jane Coltman

On Tuesday, Emmerdale aired a special episode which was shown from the perspective of long-running character Ashley Thomas, played by John Middleton, who is living with dementia.

Producers of the ITV soap worked with both the Alzheimer’s Society and MHA care homes to devise the storyline.

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And after seeing the programme, Gemma Little, from Amble, said she was impressed with the way Emmerdale handled the topic.

The 33-year-old’s mother, Anne, died in 2006, aged 64. She had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s – the most common form of dementia – a decade earlier.

Gemma said: “I don’t always get to see Emmerdale, but I wanted to see Ashley’s dementia special. I can safely say it had me an emotional wreck and it was very well done.

“We all suffer mind blanks from time to time but most of the time we can recall the information. For a person with dementia their life becomes a massive mind block.

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“They don’t recognise the familiar faces and surroundings and can’t recall information and feel very frustrated and confused at feeling blank and lost.

Dementia alters their perceptions. I really hope this episode raises the awareness it needs for people to be more patient and understanding as more people live with dementia in our communities.”

Gemma has been an active fund-raiser for the Alzheimer’s Society, holding the annual Save the Memories coastal walk from Craster to Amble in aid of the charity.

Emmerdale character Ashley Thomas has stroke-related early-onset vascular dementia and fans have watched his condition gradually worsen.

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The one-off production saw changes to camerawork and editing to show things from Ashley’s confused point of view as he left a hospital and made his way out alone.

Viewers saw the former vicar walking down the street in his pyjamas and struggling to count out change in shops.

Fans and dementia charities have praised the episode.