Tragedy of Derbyshire man who lost motorcycle business due to dementia

A renowned Derbyshire entrepreneur has seen his life and work devastated after contracting some form of dementia in his 50s forcing him to shut down his beloved business.

Phillip Clarke was only 57 years old when he was diagnosed with Pick’s disease, a form of dementia that affects personality and behavior before leading to severe memory loss.

The Derbyshire father, who ran the Clarke Motorcycles car shop for 30 years, had to abandon his beloved business in 2016 due to the worsening effects of the disease.

Daughter Estelle described the store as her father’s pride and joy and said it had been a difficult and emotional time as the family struggled to support him in this life-changing condition.

The 28-year-old added: “He was confident and positive, but as the disease progresses he worries about the smallest things and becomes frustrated and panicked if anything changes at home.

“He also loses his temper when we try to help him with words or tasks and he is even sometimes suspicious of his family which breaks our hearts.

“The condition means that he may act inappropriately and even recklessly – chatting with strangers as if he has known them for years, and once he tried to open the passenger door of the car while I was driving.

“Due to his worsening condition, we had to make the heartbreaking decision to close the store, his pride and joy, in July 2016.”

Phillip lives with his daughter, wife Tracey and brother Scott in Melbourne where they turned the family garage into a workshop to keep him repairing bikes for fun and keeping his mind active.

Phillip in his studio at home

When her father’s mood soars, Estelle said it was difficult to know what to do in these situations, especially for people who may have never experienced a similar situation before.

Since the diagnosis, Estelle said she had to “mature very quickly” in order to support her parents, including taking care of family finances which were previously overseen by her father.

Each year, the young woman participates in the memory walks organized by the Alzheimer’s Society UK in Nottingham, which is a sponsored walk in which people participate to raise funds for the association.

0_nm_tem_201020clarkes_02_result The Clarke family on their memory walk at Staunton Harold Reservoir. Daughter Estelle, son Scott, wife Tracey and Phillip.

This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Clarke family were unable to participate in an official walk and instead chose to do their own around one of Phillip’s favorite natural spots.

Earlier in October, Estelle, her fiance and her parents took a four-mile walk around Staunton Harold Reservoir, one of her father’s favorite places, to fundraising for dementia research.

She added, “Participating in the Alzheimer’s Society Memory Walk has been a positive experience for Dad and a chance for us to highlight the hardships that living with dementia can bring.

“What has helped me cope is hearing or reading about other families going through similar changes, so I want to share our experiences so that other families living with dementia don’t feel alone. “

The Alzheimer Society invites people to get involved in more fundraising events for the charity, including their annual “Elves Day” which takes place on December 4th.

More information on fundraising events can be found here.