A social media celebrity with over 60 million views was the guest speaker at this month’s Dementia Action Alliance meeting, as it launched its new Living Well Guide.
The South Ribble Dementia Action Alliance (SRDAA) met last week to hear from Simon McDermott, the son of Teddy Mac, aka The Songaminute Man.
Teddy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2013 and struggles with poor memory, sometimes forgetting who family members are – that is, until music is played.
Simon found that, during a car ride in their Blackburn hometown, Teddy would sing along to old classics on the stereo.
The joy this brought them both blossomed into something even greater: YouTube videos, an album, a book, and more than £130,000 raised for the Alzheimer’s Society.
They received messages and donations from around the world – as far as Japan, America and Sweden, even claiming a Number 3 hit in the Japanese music charts.
The SRDAA was delighted to invite Simon to share his stories as a carer of someone living with dementia and he had the whole room – around 50 members of the Alliance – absolutely engrossed.
South Ribble Partnership Manager, Howard Anthony, then stepped up to the stage to announce the launch of a new Living Well Guide created by South Ribble Partnership along with the SRDAA.
The Living Well Guide is jam-packed full of useful information and contacts to help those living with dementia along with their carers, friends and families to continue doing the things they enjoy. This includes guidance on Lasting Power of Attorney and other legal and financial support.
For businesses, there are details about the South Ribble Dementia Charter which they are encouraged to sign-up to so we can ensure South Ribble’s town centres and places where people go are Dementia Friendly and supportive.
The guide is online, with full information at http://southribblepartnership.org.uk/home/dementia/.
Anna-Marie Knipe, Chair of the SRDAA, said: “It was important to get all the Alliance members back in one room to discuss the challenges that those living with dementia and their carers face.
“We were honoured to welcome Simon McDermott, son of the Songaminute Man, to share his experiences with us.
“His stories were simply staggering, eye-opening and heart-warming and his personal account of living with a relative with dementia show that the right support is vital. There is always help at hand and it’s so important to ask for it.
“This is why we have worked hard on our 23-page Living Well Guide which is an absolute must-read for the residents and businesses of South Ribble.”
Councillor Karen Walton, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Safety, Wellbeing and Environmental at South Ribble Borough Council, said: “Hearing about Simon and Teddy’s adventures – singing old hits and becoming famous almost overnight – has really inspired me to keep up the council’s efforts as a dementia-friendly borough.
“Dementia should not be something that takes away people’s dignity and quality of life – which is why I welcome the Alliance’s new Living Well Guide; a superb document which is so useful, practical and informative.
“The Council will be doing everything it can to maintain South Ribble’s dementia-friendly status and I encourage other local businesses to sign up to our Charter and make the same pledge.
“Not long ago, we helped deliver some amazing Dementia Friends sessions – training more than 50 people who are now registered Dementia Friends and we’d love to see even more people get involved.
“I hope the new Living Well Guide provides all the information and links to the support people need.
“For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Simon McDermott, whose father is the famous Songaminute Man, said: “I’m not usually much of a public speaker – I prefer singing with my Dad! – but it was a pleasure to speak at the latest Dementia Action Alliance meeting in South Ribble.
“I’m just totally overwhelmed by all the support me and Dad have received over the past few years.
“Raising all this money for Alzheimer’s Society is something I’m very proud of because they do amazing work.
“I was really impressed by the council’s new Living Well Guide because I am keenly aware that people do need support and advice when they care for someone with dementia. It is not an easy task – it can be stressful, hurtful and anxious – so producing an easy guide like this should really help the people in South Ribble.
“If anyone would like to donate to my page, they can do so at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/songaminute or find out more on the website.”