A FAMILY who lost their father to dementia at just 57 are raising money in his name.
Dave Burton’s family watched early onset dementia cruelly rob him of his faculties and eventually his life over several years.
A former fitter and turner, and later engineer, at Llanwern steelworks, a keen sportsman and musician, Mr Burton went from being physically fit to losing his mobility and speech, and in the final few months of his life becoming bedridden and unable to recognise even his loved ones.
Mr Burton’s widow Lynnette, who lives in Liswerry, Newport, said: “It is such a devastating disease.
Dave was very fit, he’d played football, did athletics with Liswerry Runners, was Welsh veterans’ hurdles champion.
“It started when he was around 50 when he was getting very forgetful and confused.
“Things like when he was driving he would go the wrong way on familiar roads.
“He started getting panic attacks and he was treated originally for depression.
“Eventually, he was referred for cognitive therapy and tests confirmed he had a form of dementia.”
Mr Burton died two years ago aged 57, barely seven years since the symptoms of his illness began.
Early onset dementia is rare – only about five per cent of all dementia cases occur in people aged under 65 – and the Burton family is now raising money for the charity Dementia UK.
Mr Burton’s son Lawrence, 32 – he also has a brother Alex, 35 – is running a golf day next week to raise money for Dementia UK.
Last year a similar event raised £1,200.
“We have the golf event for the Dave Burton Trophy at Newport Golf Club, and an evening meal at the Parc Golf Club in Coedkernew,” said Mr Burton.
“Dad’s birthday was in October and he died in October, so this is a good time of the year to do this.”
Mrs Burton said it was harrowing to watch the progress of the disease.
“To see someone who was fit and looked after himself have all that taken away, it was awful,” she said.
“He used to compose music but in the end he couldn’t pick up his guitar and didn’t even know what it was.
“I gave up my job to look after him but it was very difficult.
“Our Christian faith brought us through and without the support of family, friends and the church I wouldn’t have got through it.”
This year’s golf day and meal take place on Friday, October 12.
● For more information on Dementia UK and the golf event visit dementia uk.org