EAST Riddlesden Hall has become the first National Trust property to become Dementia Friendly.

The accolade was given to the 17th century manor house after more than 70 staff and volunteers were trained to better serve people with dementia and their carers.

The hall is reviewing accessibility across the property and aims to improve walkways, tables and information provision.

Centrepiece of the changes will be a new ‘wellbeing garden’ providing a safe and accessible place particularly for people with dementia or autism.

The garden, expected to be opened next year, will have fully-accessible paths a water feature to provide a sensory experience, and carefully chosen flowers to reflect people’s moods or give off scents.

The National Trust has been working on the project with Dementia Friendly Keighley (DFK), walking project Out in the Aire and regeneration body Big Local.

It grew out of East Riddlesden Hall’s wellbeing project which aims to make every visitor feel welcome.

Emily Taylor, Hall’s volunteer and community involvement manager at East Riddlesden Hall, last year arranged for Dementia Friendly Keighley to run the first of several awareness courses.

Now more than 70 staff and volunteers have been shown how to challenge negative preconceived ideas, support everyone affected by dementia, and understand that people can live well with dementia.

Emily recently collected an award from Steve Seymour, chairman of Dementia Friendly Keighley, to recognise the hall’s work.

Next month Emily will become East Riddlesden Hall’s first Dementia Friendly Champion, which will allow her to run the training’s herself.

She said: “The dementia friendly courses have empowered so many of us both at East Riddlesden Hall and personally at home. I’m determined to continue improving our skills and our property to ensure everyone is welcome and supported.”

We’ll continue to work with Dementia Friendly Keighley with community events and supporting their cause.

The hall is raising money for the new garden by selling raffle tickets and duck food in the shop. Every visit and every cup of tea sold in the tea-room also helps towards the costs, and specific donations are welcome.

Visit nationaltrust.org.uk/features/access-for-everyone for information about discounted and free entry for disabled visitors.