Here’s a story about 3 people, 3 days, 3 towns, 333 miles, 3 words.
We recently had the great privilege of hosting a 3 day mini tour in Dumfries and Galloway with Tommy Whitelaw. Tommy spent many years touring the world running global merchandising operations for people such as The Spice Girls, U2 and Kylie Minogue, before giving it all up to look after his mum Joan, who had dementia. Sadly his mum passed away in 2012, and Tommy has tirelessly campaigned to raise awareness of dementia and the impact on carers.
Tommy’s inspirational talks encourage people to think about dementia and how it can affect each and every one of us, professionally and personally. You can watch some of his talks and videos here on his blog. The theme of Tommy’s tour for 2014 is “You Can Make a Difference”.
In April 2014, for the Dumfries and Galloway leg of his tour, Kylie and The Spice Girls were not available, so he was forced to go on the road with two new sidekicks.
(Us! – Linda and Gladys: @weemac63 and @gbhaining)
Here are the highlights of our tour with Tommy….
Tuesday 8th April 2014.
We headed to our Transport Department to collect our “tour bus” for the 3 days.
“Oh no!” was our first reaction, It’s a Corsa! Never mind, there are only 3 of us and Tommy will just have a wee rucksack with the essentials. So off we went to pick Tommy up at Lockerbie station via a well known supermarket as we wanted to ensure a supply of sweeties, sandwiches and drinks to keep us well nourished and hydrated over the next 3 days.
We arrived at Lockerbie station just in time to see several bags, rucksacks and packages of many shapes and sizes advancing towards us at an alarming rate down the steps of the station platform. We soon discovered the smiley face of Tommy Whitelaw peeking out from beneath one of the bags!
After enthusiastic greetings all round, we made our way to the tour bus where the “roadies” ( us!) managed to squeeze all the gear into the boot of the aforementioned Corsa, and off we set to our first gig at Stranraer!
We arrived at Waverly Medical Centre and unloaded the “gear” to start the events. A quick sound check confirmed that the technology was going to play its usual tricks on us but we soon “made do” and the audiences at the two sessions were treated to emotional and inspiring talks from Tommy.
After a brief photo call, we were back on the road, heading for our next gig at Palmerston Football Ground.
We arrived at Palmerston with a little time to spare and again Tommy delivered a very emotive, inspiring and thought provoking talk to the invited guests. We had a wide range of people from our community at the event and it was a huge success. The football ground was an ideal location as Tommy during his tour has visited many other grounds across Scotland.
The lack of half time Bovril was made up for by a fantastic supper provided by the girls at Palmerston (including the customary pies and sausage rolls!)
Wednesday 9th April 2014
Another busy day ahead which kicked off with two very well attended open sessions in Crichton Hall.
After navigating the “tour bus” through all the interesting road works of Dumfries, we then arrived at Alzheimer Scotland’s resource centre in Gordon Street, where the three of us were very privileged to be invited to join some of the day care service users for lunch.
Tommy was then given a tour of the resource centre meeting staff and volunteers.
In the afternoon we popped back up to Crichton Hall where Tommy presented to members of our Person Centred Care Committee.
With a busy morning and afternoon there was a little time for Tommy to return to his hotel and relax before joining a few of us for dinner. (A welcome change from the sandwiches and junk food we had been consuming over the past two days!)
Thursday 10th April 2014.
Our final day with Tommy and we’re not letting him slow down, so the tour bus was loaded up with a plentiful supply of Lucozade (the healthy version of course!)
The first session was held in Midpark Hospital. Word had obviously got round, as it was standing room only in the packed venue. Jeff Ace our CEO even had to give up his seat in the VIP area and move to the cheap seats. Despite technical problems which left us without sound and vision, the audience were moved to tears listening to Tommy. Afterwards, he had a short visit to the dementia assessment ward to see the wonderful facilities and meet with some of the staff.
We were then back in the car heading to Annan for the last session of the tour, feeling sad as the tour is coming to an end, but so happy with the positive feedback we had received along the way.
As expected, this final session was inspirational and thanks to Brian Cluckie we had no hiccups with the I.T.!!!
The final leg of our tour was soon upon us, and we headed back to Lockerbie Station to bid farewell to Tommy, who had another talk with student nurses in Glasgow later that evening. As we left Tommy at the station platform, with slightly lighter luggage, and the last of the now stale sandwiches clutched in his hand, we felt exhausted, and sad to say goodbye, but with happy hearts that so many people had the opportunity to meet Tommy and hear his message. After 3 days, 3 towns, 333 miles, 33 sandwiches, the 3 of us hoped that everyone left thinking about 3 important words:-
WE can all “make a difference”.
Throughout the three days Tommy has engaged with and shared his story with people from our community including the public, health care, social care, third sector, police, clergy, carers, care providers ,footballers and many more.
Tommy has had lots of pledges from Dumfries and Galloway and it’s not too late… You can still pledge online at http://dementiacarervoices.wordpress.com/you-can-make-a-difference/
Here are some quotes from people who attended the sessions.
This blog has been compiled by:-
Gladys Haining (@gbhaining firstname.lastname@example.org) and Linda Mckechnie (@weemac63 email@example.com). Gladys is our Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse Consultant and Linda is a Service Development Manager at the Mental Health Directorate both at NHS Dumfries and Galloway.