Published: 00:01, 05 March 2017 |
Stephen Wren was once a train driver for Southeastern and has competed in eight London Marathons.
But now the father of six can’t even work, finds it difficult to walk and feels confined to his four walls.
Outwardly he looks a normal 55-year-old – but Mr Wren has Alzheimer’s.
His heartbroken daughter Amanda, 26, says that her dad has been a victim of abuse in Faversham town centre and wants people to think twice the next time they see him.
She says there have been a number of incidents and many involve his dogs Tilly and Layla.
Amanda works six days a week but is fast becoming a carer for her dad, of Fielding Street.
She said: “The dogs may have had a wee on the floor but I know my dad and I know he would always try to clear it up and always takes poo bags.
“One time he asked for a bucket of water from a shopkeeper and they apparently chucked it at him, and others have been abusive when he hasn’t tried to do something about it.
“People need to understand that he may not have seen it, and when they respond like that, he gets anxious and upset, and needs support.
“I’m not saying he is entirely innocent in this. I know people get frustrated with people not picking up after their dogs, but I just want people to have some compassion for his situation.
“He looks too young to have Alzheimer’s and until you start to talk to him, nobody is any the wiser.
“He can’t say what he wants to say and people get frustrated with him.”
Stephen is often on his way to Age UK, a place where he says he feels comfortable and safe and is allowed to take his dogs.
But Amanda believes there is a lack of services and support groups for those living with dementia so young.
Speaking through tears, Mr Wren said: “I have started to go around the long way so I don’t have to go into town and see people who have a go at me.
“I get confused and want to tell people when they shout at me, I want to tell them what is wrong with me, but I don’t think they will listen.
“My dogs are my whole world and I don’t want to leave them at home.
“I feel scared. I feel like I should not go out because of the way people treat me. I want to go out and be normal, but I’m too fearful, especially after being hit.
“All I want is to be normal and to be treated like a normal person. I don’t feel like I am ever going to be normal again.”
A more recent and horrifying episode was when Stephen was allegedly hit by a man after an argument broke out.
Stephen’s memory of the incident is vague but police have been told and Amanda is still trying to put together the pieces of the jigsaw and work out exactly what happened.
Stephen grew up in Faversham and his parents owned the Faversham Arms pub. He was a milkman in the town until he moved to Sittingbourne 20 years ago and only returned last year.
Amanda says that she thought the community would be more supportive, as they may have known him from before or known his parents, and she thought a smaller town would be easier – but she has found it more challenging than she could ever imagine.
Amanda added: “We have found people to be so ignorant. They see my dad and cross to the other side of the road.
“The way he has been treated has stopped him from wanting to go out at all and that is not right.
“He deserves more respect. I’m not asking for people to baby him, I just want people to be nicer to him and try to understand what he is going through.
“He may end up in a care home eventually but he wants to live his life to the full as much as he can, while he can.
“It has been hard for me and all of our family.
“You know you are going to have to look after your parents at some point but I never thought it would be this soon.”
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