Popular South Yorkshire teacher, 40, becomes one of the youngest people to die from dementia

Gareth Wilmot died of dementia at only 40 years old (Photo: SWNS)
Gareth Wilmot died of dementia at only 40 years old (Photo: SWNS)
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A South Yorkshire man has become one of the youngest people to die from dementia at just 40-years-old.

Gareth Wilmot, from Barnsley, lost his five-year battle with frontotemporal dementia on Monday despite the illness usually affecting patients between the ages of 45-65.

Gareth Wilmot died of dementia at only 40 years old (Photo: SWNS)

Gareth Wilmot died of dementia at only 40 years old (Photo: SWNS)

The popular teacher began to show signs of the degenerative illness at 35-years-old but was misdiagnosed with depression.

However, his parents, Lesley, 66 and Graham 65, explained that it was only as the illness progressed that "alarm bells"started ringing before the illness "took a hold" of their son.

Lesley said: "Gareth was diagnosed five years ago, we were very naive at that time.

"He was originally diagnosed with depression, which I feel the doctors thought was more common for someone of his age.

Gareth Wilmot died of dementia at only 40 years old (Photo: SWNS)

Gareth Wilmot died of dementia at only 40 years old (Photo: SWNS)

"The effect on the family was devastating, he was a completely different person.

"He used to have three baths a night, wore lots of aftershave, he was a spotless person.

"Once it kicked in, he struggled to wash and we used to have to stand at the door to make sure he was having a shower. He lost all of his weight and was skin and bones."

Frontotemporal dementia occurs when nerve cells in the frontal and/or temporal lobes of the brain die.

Gareth Wilmot died of dementia at only 40 years old (Photo: SWNS)

Gareth Wilmot died of dementia at only 40 years old (Photo: SWNS)

Graham said that, as the illness progressed, his "showman" of a son started to lose his speech before refusing food and drink.

He said: "It is horrible to see an old person like that, never mind your own son.

"The diagnosis is so final, a fuse starts burning. You don't know how long that fire will burn.

"It destroys you."

Gareth Wilmot died of dementia at only 40 years old (Photo: SWNS)

Gareth Wilmot died of dementia at only 40 years old (Photo: SWNS)

Gareth lived happily with his partner prior to his diagnosis but moved back into the family home when his condition started to deteriorate.

He was moved to Havenfield care home for the final stages of his life and his family said they couldn't thank the staff enough.

Lesley said: "We have this massive hole to fill now, a huge void to fill.

"Havenfield care home were brilliant to us throughout.

"Gareth's brother Matthew was there with him when he passed.

"Matthew's final words to Gareth were 'brothers to the end.'"

The family have took part in many fundraising events with Gareth in the last five years, including memory walks.

Many of Gareth's students took part in the walk and said they were "walking with Mr Wilmott", which Graham said was typical of the man that he was in the community.

He said: "His funeral will be a celebration of his life. We have invited all of his family and friends, I'm hoping they can all fit in the venue.

"We have told people that they can't wear black.

"I know my outfit already, I'm going to be wearing a baseball jersey and red high top trainers.

"Gareth loved DC comics and one of his friends is hoping to go as Wonder-woman.

"His friends were brilliant"

Lesley and Graham have decided to donate Gareth's brain and spinal cord in the hope that they can help with future research into the disease.

They have reached out online to try and find families in similar situations.

The family believe that support groups and help is out there and they want to reach out to anyone they may be able to help or spread information about the torturous disease.

Lesley said: "If we help one other person or family, then that is comfort to us.

"We hope that it leaves a lasting legacy."