Man who shared dementia story on TV dies in Shropshire care home
A grandfather who appeared in an episode in the television series A Vicar's Life that looked at dementia care has died at a Shropshire care home.
Charlie Atkinson's battle with the condition was featured on the BBC show when he appeared alongside his son-in-law and Much Wenlock parish priest the Rev Matthew Stafford.
The 79-year-old died on February 19 at The Lady Forester Centre, in Broseley.
The Rev Stafford said: "As family we were privileged to tell our story and raise the profile of the challenges within social care dementia. The BBC informed us that episode five had the largest viewing figure of 1.4 million which was increased to 2m when you included iPlayer and catch up.
"The episode in question told the story of us moving Charlie from his home town of Birkenhead on the Wirral where he had lived for 77 years to a care home in Broseley - who did their utmost to care for Charlie for as long as possible."
Mr Atkinson grew up in Birkenhead, Merseyside, and served his National Service with the Royal Army Medical Call followed by a career as a rail company driver. His wife of 52 years Hermione, who had also suffered from dementia, died in 2013.
"Charlie had complex needs which included being blind and an amputee, as well as battling chronic diabetes, angina and kidney failure. It was also becoming increasingly apparent that Charlie was beginning to show signs of dementia and would therefore require 24-hour care in a residential setting, said Mr Stafford.
"As a family, along with social services who gave Charlie the option of either moving into a care home on the Wirral or find one nearer to us in Much Wenlock, Charlie agreed to move to Shropshire with two stipulations. One that he could bring his Budgie Jo Jo and two, his 52-inch TV. This we duly did."
"If finding a suitable care home wasn’t challenging, funding Charlie’s care was a completely different story, as Charlie owned a Shared Ownership Property which meant up until we sold the house - we were not eligible for any relief and were forced to find full care home costs, plus pay rent on an empty property for 18 months before it finally sold in 2017. We were indebted for the financial support of the Lady Forester Trust, SSAFA and the Much Wenlock Forester Trust who came to our aid during that period," Mr Stafford added.
A service of thanksgiving for Mr Atkinson will be held at Holy Trinity Church, Much Wenlock, at 10am on Monday. There will family flowers only, donations will be taken towards the Lady Forester Centre's new alarm pendant fund in his memory. This will be followed by a cremation service at Landican Crematorium, in Birkenhead, on March 13.
Mr Atkinson is survived by children Ian, 49, twins Julie and Beverley, 45, and grandchildren Christopher, 22, Laura, 18, Oran, 17, and Conall, 14.