Barnsley teacher becomes one of the youngest to die of dementia

Gareth Wilmot

A Barnsley family have spoke of their devastation after their son became one of the youngest people to die from dementia – at just 40 years old.  

Gareth Wilmot, a teacher from Barnsley passed away on Monday after a five year battle with frontotemporal dementia, a savage and rapidly-advancing form of the disease.

He was hit with the degenerative illness at 35 years old – it usually affects patients between the ages of 45 – 65.

His parents Lesley, 66 and Graham, 65, of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, said they were heartbroken at losing their “showman” son.

Lesley said: “We have this massive hole to fill now, a huge void.

“Gareth was originally diagnosed with depression, which I feel the doctors thought was more common for someone of his age. We took him home and tried to pinpoint the problem. It was only as the illness progressed that alarm bells started ringing.

“The effect on the family was devastating, he was a completely different person.”

The frontal lobes of the brain deal with behaviour, problem-solving, planning, the control of emotions and speech. As nerve cells die, the brain tissue shrinks.

Gareth had previously taught children with behavioural problems.

As the disease progressed he moved back in with his parents and then, in the final stages, into Havenfield Lodge care home in Barnsley.

He had attended Arden School of Theatre at Manchester University. Graham said: “When he graduated, he got a huge cheer from the audience, everybody loved him.

He was a showman “People with dementia tend to lose friends but his stuck by him. They were brilliant.”

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