Trevor Peacock was a much loved star of the Vicar of Dibley. Now the 86 year old actor, who played bumbling Jim Trott in the hit comedy series, has vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s. Here his family reveal how they try to make every day count.

When Trevor Peacock was diagnosed with dementia his family vowed to make his life as comfortable as possible. Nearly eight years later, Trevor’s wife, actress Tilly Tremayne, and children continue pulling together and coming up with new ways to bring joy and meaning to Trevor’s life.

This week his daughters decided to show their support for Dementia Awareness Week by speaking out about Trevor’s illness and sharing what they’ve learnt – and are still learning – about dementia.

Trevor was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2009, after a stroke. However, he was able to continue working. In fact, his daughter Sally only noticed a significant change a couple of years later. ‘He was preparing for his part in the film Quartet which came out in 2012 and I noticed he was struggling to learn his lines,’ she explained.

As Trevor’s illness progressed (he was also diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2013) his family, like so many others, have had to come up with new ways to stimulate him.

Here’s a few ideas that have helped them:

Music

Trevor was a songwriter, as well as an actor. (He wrote Mrs Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter for Herman’s Hermits in the 1960s) so it’s no surprise that music continues to play a big part in his care plan. ‘Music is a great mood changer and enhancer, and I know what will move him and make him smile,’ says daughter Maudie. ‘He loves the Pharrell Williams song Happy. It takes him out of himself and his illness and he has a little dance.’

Nature

Trevor loves the garden of his Somerset home so daughter Sally came up with an activity that would make use of the plentiful sticks and woods it contains, whilst also giving father and daughter some bonding time. ‘I wanted to do something special with Dad that meant we could spend precious time together and at the same time distract him from whatever was going on in his head,’ she explains. ‘So I came up with the idea of collecting these sticks and, with some twine, securing them together to make tree-like structures.’ Sally and Trevor started making Trevor Trees 15 months ago and it’s brought much happiness to both of them. ‘Dad was happy and full of laughter,’ Sally says, recalling the day they first started. ‘There was no Alzheimer’s getting in the way and, for a while, I had my dad back.’

Comedy

Trevor is a natural born comic and although he may not be able to recall much of his career anymore, he still retains his sense of humour.  ‘Dad told a joke or story like no other and was able to make you laugh or cry,’ recalls daughter Maudie. ‘Thanks to YouTube, I can put his favourite sketches, film clips on. He has rediscovered Tommy Cooper.’

Family

Trevor is fortunate to have a big family who are all doing their bit to help. Daughter Maudie has taken time out of her job to support him, whilst daughter Sally, and sons Daniel and Harry visit regularly - as do his six grandchildren and one great grandchild. ‘It requires a team effort to look after someone with dementia,’ adds Maudie, ‘And that’s where Government help and funding should come in.’


Trevor Trees cost £5 and can be bought to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society from Trevor Trees Facebook page.