Andover outgoing mayor has called for the town to become more welcoming towards those with dementia as he steps down.

Councillor Richard Rowles, as he left office, called on the people of Andover to help him in establishing Andover as a dementia-friendly town, with those with dementia often feeling lonely or cut off from communities.

Cllr Rowles said: “I’d like to ask everyone in our town to help and support me in establishing Andover as a dementia friendly town. Plans are already underway, but the more the merrier”.

Dementia-friendly towns are those where communities come together to make those with the condition feel valued and engaged.

The Alzheimer’s Society says: “People affected by dementia have the most important role in any dementia-friendly community. By sharing their experiences and connecting with others, they ensure that communities keep the needs of people affected by dementia at the heart of everything they do.”

Dementia-friendly towns carry out activities such as raising awareness, holding memory cafes and hosting events, while looking to identify and rectify areas where action is needed to improve access for those with dementia.

Cllr Rowles said that he had been inspired to create a dementia-friendly town in Andover following him and his family caring for his 87-year-old father, who has the condition.

He said: “Caring for someone with dementia can be a harrowing and frankly exhausting experience at the best of times let alone during the lockdowns. I can now say with absolute certainty that I understand the pain others are facing in our town right now who have been doing exactly the same as me.

“So, I’d like to take a moment to personally thank his neighbours for helping support him, and I’d like to thank our town council officers who have also supported me through this time as well.”

He said that in setting up a dementia-friendly town in Andover, he would hope to provide activities and training, among others, to people and businesses.

He called for anyone interested in supporting this to get in touch with him to learn more.