7 times Emmerdale’s Ashley Thomas dementia storyline broke our hearts

Ashley Thomas Emmerdale

by Katy Brent |
Published on

Emmerdale's long running dementia storyline featuring Ashley Thomas ended tonight with his funeral

From the very start we knew that Ashley Thomas's journey with dementia was going to be a devastating storyline to watch play out. And it was. But it was also one of the most important and brilliantly acted soap stories of recent times. John Middleton continually knocked it out of the park as Ashley, while Charlotte Bellamy (Laurel) was outstanding too. Here are the 7 most heartbreaking moments of Ashley's struggle.

1. When he was diagnosed

Ashley Thomas Emmerdale
Ashley struggled with his diagnosis (credit: ITV) ©ITV

Poor Ashley, our hearts absolutely went out to him when he was told he had early onset vascular dementia. He couldn't understand why the consultant couldn't tell him how long he had until he didn't know anything anymore. And when he burst into tears, well, we're not ashamed to say that we sobbed along with him.

2. When he told Laurel

Ashley Laurel Thomas Emmerdale
Telling Laurel about his illness was devastating (credit: ITV) ©ITV

Laurel finally plucked up the courage to tell Ashley that she'd fallen back in love with him. But her hopes were shattered when he told her she couldn't, because he had been diagnosed with dementia. Pass the tissues please.

3. When his dementia started to show

Ashley Laurel Thomas Emmerdale
Ashley's illness started to show on his wedding day (credit: ITV) ©ITV

Despite the future being unknown, Ashley and Laurel decided to give their relationship another chance and get engaged. But on their wedding night, Ashley took a turn for the worse and couldn't remember them getting married. He asked Laurel what she was doing in the house, thinking she was married to Marlon. Weep.

4. When he got confused at hospital

Ashley Laurel Thomas Emmerdale
Ashley was confused and lashed out at Laurel (credit: ## ITV) ©ITV

Ashley got horribly confused when Gabby collapsed and was rushed to hospital after drinking too much. He accused recovering alcoholic Laurel of plying her with booze and then lashed out at her in his confused state.

5. The entire Emmerdale Ashley special

Ashley Thomas Emmerdale
The special episode was devastating, yet stunning (credit: ITV) ©ITV

We were warned that the special episode shot from Ashley's point of view would be heartbreaking, but we didn't realise just how devastating it would be. From Ashley wandering around in his pjs, to not recognising anyone, it was an absolute weep-fest. But John Middleton stunned as the confused former vicar and it was a memorable piece of TV.

6. When Gabby looked after him

Ashley Gabby Thomas Emmerdale
Gabby caring for Ashley was bittersweet (credit: ITV) ©ITV

Poor Ashley was saying he needed to go and Gabby didn't understand that he meant to the loo. She was devastated when he wet himself, but later on they shared a beautiful lucid moment when Ashley told her he was proud of her.

7. When he passed away

Ashley Emmerdale
Ashley was lucid just before he died (credit: ITV*) ©ITV

We knew it was coming, but it didn't make the moment Ashley died any easier. If you weren't blubbing like a baby when he recognised Laurel and they shared a moment just before he passed, then you have a heart of actual stone. A beautifully sad ending to a sublimely written and wonderfully acted storyline. Bravo Emmerdale. And sleep well, Ashley.

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