CARTERTON’S new Lights Up memory club attracted 24 people to its first meeting on Thursday.

Inspired by the success of a similar scheme launched in Chipping Norton in 2012, the arts-based memory club brings together people living with dementia, including friends, families and carers, so that they can build friendships and learn new skills.

Set up by West Oxfordshire District Council, Lights Up will meet twice a month at Blenheim Court, in Sycamore Drive, offering activities to stimulate the mind, such as sharing experiences, making music, art and storytelling.

The venture is supported by Cottsway Housing Association and funding applications are being considered by Oxfordshire County Council and Carterton Town Council.

Musician Arne Richards led the first session, telling stories about music and singing songs that everyone could join in with.

Jan Burrage, from Witney, who cares for her husband Ralph, who has dementia, said: “It was brilliant. Friendships always strike up immediately between those of us living with dementia, as we all have something in common.

“The session just oozed friendship right from the start. The sing-along was great – music and old songs are always stimulating, as they bring back memories from the past.”

Carterton’s mayor, Lynn Little, was a guest at the event.

She said: “I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and believe that this is a crucial service for Carterton and one that the town council supports wholeheartedly.”

Recent studies have shown engagement with the arts brings benefits to both those with dementia and their loved ones through sharing activities.

It also accesses the creative part of the brain, which overrides the stresses of memory loss and restores a sense of personal identity.

Richard Langridge, the district council’s cabinet member for communities, said: “Living with dementia brings many challenges and this club aims to help those affected to cope with the everyday strains and stresses they face.”

The Carterton club will be held on the second and fourth Thurs-days of each month, from 10.30am to 12.30pm.

The Chipping Norton Lights Up club meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month from 10.30am to 12.30pm at the Highlands Day Centre, in Burford Road.

People can turn up on the day and do not need to book in advance.

  • For more information about the clubs, or to volunteer, call their co-ordinator, Val McKay, on 01451 810637 or send an email to