A PROJECT which uses virtual reality to bring back fond memories for dementia patients has received £100,000 funding.

The Wayback Project was inspired by one son’s trip down memory lane with his late father, who was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

Founder Dan Cole took his dad, Terry, on a drive around Camden, north London, to show him old haunts and familiar neighbourhoods.

Terry, from Clacton, died three years ago at the age of 75.

But on his drive around his old stomping ground, Terry became immersed in his memories of different streets and places.

Dan realised there could be a way to illicit similar nostalgia for patients in various stages of dementia.

Using their experience with virtual reality, Dan and a group of friends founded the project, which lets dementia-sufferers use a simple set of 3D goggles to immerse themselves in a recreation of Coronation Day in 1953.

From an original team of seven, hundreds of people, including actors, film extras and a 70-strong film crew helped to create the realistic film.

After trialling the project at homes including Haven Care Home, in Colchester, and Corner Lodge Care Home, in Jaywick, the team were delighted with the results.

Dan said: “People’s reactions catch us unaware. It is completely fantastic, not just from residents, but from care givers.

“I hope Dad would be pretty proud of what we’ve done.

“My mum is actively involved in the Clacton community still, and after our visit to Corner Lodge, in Jaywick, she was talking about volunteering there.

“The level of effort these carers put in with these people is mind-blowing, it is not just a job for them.

“We hope these videos can help, we want it to be like stepping inside a moment in time.”

The project was a finalist in the recent Essex Challenge Dementia Prize competition, where it came up against eight other schemes vying for a £100,000 grant.

After scooping the prize, the team is already making progress on crafting a follow-up film.

Dan said: “We are re-writing the script at the moment and hoping to get going on production.

“This time it will be based around 1966 - which was, of course, the England World Cup win.

“We want to make sure it is

not too football-heavy, and make sure it focusses on the lead up to it. Things like a scene in the barber shop on the morning of the World Cup final. A lot of people at that time were on holiday, and people were trying to tune in on radios. We could have footage from inside an old pub. It is really important to get hold of the music of the time that will help to spark memories.”

The Wayback Project hopes to be able to bring its films to patients receiving treatment in their own homes in the form of an app.

Dan said: “Something like

81 per cent of people with dementia in Essex are still in the community and one of our aims is to make sure people stay in familiar surroundings at home, with family, it makes people feel more at ease and it easier to care for them.”

Visit thewaybackvr.com.