A woman with dementia has told how she was brutally attacked by a man at a roadside cafe and left with a broken eye socket despite wearing a badge saying “I have Alzheimer’s please be patient”.
Joy Watson, 61, was diagnosed with young-onset Alzheimer’s disease when she was aged 55, featured in the Channel 4 series The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes, and was praised by then-prime minister David Cameron for her work fighting for others in similar circumstances.
She told PA how she had visited Bridlington, on the Yorkshire coast on Sunday to watch some friends take part in a cycle race.
Mrs Watson, who was with her labradoodle Demi, said she went to a roadside cafe near Bracey Bridge for an early morning breakfast when she saw a man who was parked behind her mistreating his “out of control” dog.
She asked the man’s partner if she could get him to be more gentle with the dog but was told “it’s none of your business,” before the woman walked away.
After going back to her car to check on Demi she then saw the man putting his dog on the seat of the car with no security or belt.
Mrs Watson said: “I thought to myself, if he can’t control him off the lead, how is he going to support him on the seat, and so I went to speak with him.”
She explained to the driver that his dog needed to have security when on the seat and that it was the law.
“The wife came out and then he said ‘F off’ and thumped me. He gave me one massive hit – a huge thump to which I fell and hit my back on the concrete. He left me without knowing whether I was alive or not,” she said.
An cafe employee came with “loads of tissue” to help with the blood on her nose and another rang her carer who travelled the three-hour journey from Manchester to assist her to hospital.
“At that moment part of me was upset that I was not going to see my friends do the cycle run, I had woken up at 6am that day just to see them,” she said.
Her husband, Tony, 72, who was at their home in Eccles, Salford, at the time said his “strong wife” was still “very very shaken and it knocked her confidence very much and she still can’t see out of the other eye and she has to go to hospital”.
Humberside Police said: “We’re investigating after an alleged assault on a woman in a layby near Bracey Bridge on the A164 in East Yorkshire on Sunday 7 July.
“It happened around 10am. The victim who is in her 60s from the Manchester area saw what she’s reported as a man mistreating his dog. She confronted the individual who then allegedly assaulted her, leaving her with an eye and head injury which required hospital treatment.
“The suspect was with another woman who, after the incident, drove off towards Bridlington in a black coloured car, possibly a Hyundai. He has been described as in his 60s and wearing fawn and brown clothing. Did you witness anything? Can you help with our appeal? Please call us on 101 quoting reference 16/78234/19.”
The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes saw people with dementia running the Bristol-based establishment, and Mrs Morgan served members of the public and celebrities including Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville.
Mrs Watson was awarded a Points of Light award recognising outstanding volunteers by Mr Cameron.
He said: “Since being diagnosed with dementia, Joy has worked tirelessly to help people understand how we can all support people in our communities with dementia and Alzheimer’s. She is an incredible ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society.”