TERRY Evans’ face in this photograph shows someone well and happy and enjoying life.

With two young grandchildren, two children and wife Lynn by his side, there should be few worries for the former builder and plumber.

But while that may all be true, Terry is also living with a hidden and yet disabling illness.

Two years ago, aged just 55, Terry miserably failed a memory test, unable to recall things like events in the news and the date.

And his diagnosis of early onset dementia was confirmed.

Early onset dementia is so called because it occurs in people aged under 65.

Lynn admits she had false perceptions of dementia. “You had to be 80,” she said. “We really knew nothing about dementia as a family.”

The Colchester couple wanted to share their story to mark Dementia Action Week with Lynn urging families with concerns over a relative’s memory loss to push for testing from their GP.

“If you are really worried, take your relative to the GP and tell them to do a memory test. Don’t ask, tell them.

“Our GP didn’t expect it.”


Sioux Worsfold, an advanced nurse practitioner, who has come to know the couple well since Terry’s diagnosis, added: “People get dementia at any age, not just old age. Without that memory assessment you are not going to get that support.”

Lynn met Terry when they met when they were in their twenties and said he was a “gentle giant”.

She continued: “We used to live around the corner from each other in London. We ended up hooking up in the pub around the corner from my house.He was a soul boy, funny, dapper, handsome – a really nice guy.”

After just four months the love birds moved in together before marrying and moving to Colchester 33 years ago, having children Louise and Scott along the way.

All happy and precious memories but these are now tinged with a bitter sweetness.

For while Lynn can so coherently reel off stories from their past, including how talented builder Terry also vastly extended their first home here, for him it is a different story.

Yet talk to 57-year-old Terry about Spurs and his eyes light up; he knows exactly when their next match is.

Terry’s diagnosis came a few months after Lynn noticed a distinct change in his personality in January 2017.

Lynn, who is 55 and a support worker, said: “He became argumentative, aggressive. We went to the GP who checked him on a heart machine first of all. They thought it was a physical thing.

“I thought Terry had lost the plot to be honest.

“In the June, Scott said to me ‘Something is definitely wrong with Dad’.

“I spoke to our daughter, Louise. We went to the doctors and Louise told him there was definitely something wrong. His memory has gone and the doctor finally had that word…Terry did a memory test.

“As soon as he did the memory test I thought that’s it.”

Lynn said the diagnosis actually came as a relief.

Terry has onset vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Vascular dementia is the most second common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s Disease and occurs when blood vessels in the brain are damaged.

“Now we know what we have got to deal with,” she said.

After that, Terry went to the post-diagnostic support team, overseen by the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, which Sioux works for.

Sioux explained how patients and families are given information and support and it runs groups according to differing needs.

These are held from the Emerald Centre at the Kings Wood Centre in Turner Road, Colchester.

It provides care for dementia sufferers in north Essex by hosting not only sessions but also has a 24-hour helpline, visits people in their homes, therapy and runs a dementia café from the Shrub End community and sports centre.

Terry, who immediately opted to forfeit his driving licence, started going to the “saviour” centre’s Wednesday and Thursday sessions.

The former of those is a gardening group while the latter is specifically for those with early onset dementia.

These sessions not only allow Terry to socialise with others with a similar diagnosis - and chat about his beloved football - but also enable Lynn to have a break.

Terry takes medication to slow down the effects of the cruel, incurable condition and only time will tell as to how his health pans out.

Lynn said his memory had worsened and he will ask questions such as whether he has eaten breakfast or where objects are which might be right in front of him.

The couple smile when they say their Alexa virtual voice gadget has been a Godsend for when Lynn is not with Terry.

It can remind Terry when he needs to eat, take medication and even to feed the dog.

Lynn said she is extremely well supported by her family and the centre but the reality of dementia is never far from her mind.

“It is horrible seeing the man you love forget the simplest of things. On my birthday I woke up and started singing Happy Birthday to myself and he said ‘Thank God, I forgot.”