A former England international footballer and current pundit was at the grand opening of an extension to a care home in the Ribble Valley which specialises in dementia care.

Townfield Care is a family-owned company which has recently invested £2m in a large extension to their Ribble Valley Care Home in Sawley, which has been designed to help people with the condition live safely and comfortably.

Studies have found that professional footballers are three-and-a-half times more likely to develop dementia and other serious neurological diseases, proven by studies from the University of Glasgow’s brain injury unit and researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. Experts believe that it is caused by repeated head impacts throughout their careers, including heading the ball. 

Gary Neville officially opens the extension at the £2m Ribble Valley Care Home in SawleyGary Neville officially opens the extension at the £2m Ribble Valley Care Home in Sawley (Image: Amber Corns)

The home already cares for one former footballer and have a dedicated activities team for improving mental wellbeing. Other elements to assist in dementia care include colour coding of bathrooms and directional signs being pictorial as well as in writing.

Gary Neville, ex England and Manchester United footballer, was there to officially open the new extension.

He said: "This is an absolutely lovely property and I'm really pleased that Townfield Care can offer specialist help to former footballers. I know the work that Michael and John and the family have put into this, and the team, over a couple of years. It's been a labour of love. It's taken a lot of hard work to get this care home into the condition it currently is and the passion that they have for delivering the services.

"I'm an ex football player, and I think over the last 10 years, football players have become very aware of the risk of dementia and the way in which dementia has affected so many who played the game. It is heartening to know that there are good facilities and good care available for people.”

John Timmins, director of Townfield Care, added: "This renovation and extension has been a huge project, and we're delighted to be able to offer 23 additional rooms and 10 premium rooms, which have beautiful views of the surrounding area and the River Ribble which is right on our doorstep.

“We've built a lovely conservatory for our residents to relax in, and we're looking forward to taking care of them and keeping them safe and happy."

Gary continued: "Well done to Michael, well done to John, well done to all the team here who deliver the services. They're doing a great job. It's the first time I've been and I'm blown away by the standards that I've seen inside!"

Ribble Valley Care Home is located in the centre of the beautiful village of Sawley, on the edge of the Forest of Bowland and overlooking the River Ribble. There are stunning views of the Ribble Valley looking across the river and views up to Pendle Hill.