Travel agents get ‘Elfed Up’ in aid of Alzheimer’s Society

A team of travel agents will become Santa’s little helpers for the day to raise vital funds for the Alzheimer’s Society – a cause they’re supporting in memory of their colleague’s grandmother who was struck by the cruel disease.

Hays Travel Northwich’s manager, Rebekah Gate, and Gemma Dudley, (left). Hays Travel Northwich’s manager, Rebekah Gate, and Gemma Dudley, 

Staff at Hays Travel in Witton Street, Northwich, will be bringing festive cheer to customers when they take part in the charity’s Elf Day on December 6 by dressing up, serving mince pies and running a ‘Name the Elf’ competition.

The eight-strong team is hoping to raise more than £200 to help people affected by dementia by supporting the Alzheimer’s Society because colleague, Gemma Dudley, watched her nanna suffer with the disease for nearly two years prior to her death at the age of 97.

The 38-year-old from Nantwich said: “It’s a cause that is very close to my heart so I’m happy to go all out. We’ll all have our elf sweaters and slippers on and hopefully we’ll raise a lot of money.”

The mum-of-four lost her bubbly nanna Kate Dudley, who was known as Kit, six years ago and said it was hard to see her health decline: “My nanna had a wicked sense of humour and was always well dressed and presented. So the way in which it went was so sad for everyone who knew and loved her.

I have wonderful memories of my nanna. She lived in the same house in Nantwich for as long as I can remember and her and my grandad Frank, who is also no longer with us, had a caravan in west Wales.

We would spend a lot of time there. Every school holiday we went to the caravan. We’d open it up in Easter and then close it down in October.

I remember she would always be making stuff. She’d bake and make clothes and curtains. Everything that was hanging up in her house she had made!

She was always late for everything too. My grandad used to say he had to tell her they needed to be somewhere an hour before they had to just to make sure she was ready on time.

She was very well known my nanna. She used to be a home economics teacher at an all girls school, then she ran the Raven pub in Darnhall with my grandad and then right up into her 80s she was running two youth clubs.”

Gemma added: “My nanna had Alzheimer’s for about 18 months to two years before she died. In the early stages we just thought it was old age.

It would be silly things at first like putting salt into her cup of tea. Nanna was still pottering about doing her own shopping, she was very, very independent and didn’t like anyone doing anything for her.

As she gradually got worse we would have carers going in a couple of times a day but eventually she had to go into a home.

She deteriorated quite rapidly then. She still recognised us to a certain extent but she would often call my eldest daughter Chloe my name, thinking it was me.

Nanna would always be pleased to see you whether she remembered who you were or not which was some comfort.”

Gemma’s eldest daughter Chloe, aged 20, who is studying criminology at university in Bournemouth, had a close relationship with her great nanna and is currently working in a care home alongside her studies.

She said: “Chloe and my nanna had a very close bond. She doted on her and would regularly go and see her in the care home. They had a very close bond.

She fell into the care sector by accident when her friend offered her work. She looks after people with dementia and at first wasn’t keen on going down that route. But Chloe says it’s really rewarding and given her personal experience it’s nice to be able to give something back. She always says I want to make nanna proud and I know she will have.”

Rebekah Gate, Hays Travel Northwich’s manager, said: “I am so proud of my team coming together to raise funds for this great charity which holds a special place in a few of our hearts.

It’s an awful disease and we will do what we can to help raise awareness and I know we will be hoping to collect as much money as possible on the day for the Alzheimer’s Society too.”

To support the Hays Travel Northwich elf day, pop into the store on Witton Street and to find out more about the Alzheimer’s Society, go to www.alzheimers.org.uk

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