It’s been a surreal year. This September we finally released Dad’s first album #SONGAMINUTE, just over one year since the video of me and Dad singing in the car to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society went viral around the world. The album was crowdfunded - people paid in advance for their copy. We were very lucky. People donated much more than the suggested £12.99 for the price of a CD, which meant we were able to get some of the best musicians in the country to work on the album. I always said that we would try and make this album the best we could possibly do. We only had one chance to do this so I didn’t want to cut corners. Not having a record company to support us meant that I had to do this myself from scratch. It’s been a learning curve (I never want to have to speak about music licensing again to anyone every again!) – but without doubt, I’m more than happy with the result. Dad’s voice sounds amazing and combining it with the full big band versions of some classic tracks makes everything sound extra special. Additionally, a percentage of any profits are going to the Alzheimer’s Society to fund research into fighting this disease to help other people like us.
On a personal note, recording the album meant that I was able to spend more time with Dad, making a record of him singing his favourite songs that I can keep forever.
Music is Dad’s passion. He’s been a singer all his life and is a born performer, having sung in bands and working as a Butlin’s Redcoat. It means everything to him and is the one thing that he still has capacity to do. He’s unable to make a cup of tea, nor does he know who we are, but as soon as the music comes on he’s back in the room.
But that’s not to say we don’t have difficulties. I feel we are just at the start of this journey. Each day is different. The difficult thing with dementia is that as soon as you get used to one set of behaviours things suddenly change and you’re confronted with a new issue to deal with. Currently Dad is sundowning – meaning that as soon as it goes dark his confusion reaches new heights and he can walk around the house for hours looking for Mum. It’s distressing for all of us, but we are thankful that we are still able to look after him at home.
2018 is an exciting year for us. I’ve written a book, published by Harper Collins, about Dad’s life growing up as the eldest of 14 children, his life as a singer, how we dealt with Alzheimer’s and the story how the videos went viral across the world. It’s been my own personal therapy and I’ve discovered even more about my father than I could ever have imagined.
My hopes for the year ahead? I take each day as it comes now. I hope Dad’s still around for when the book comes out in April and that things haven’t progressed so far that we can no longer care for him. I just hope that we can take each day as it comes – whatever the universe throws at us. And of course... peace on Earth and riches for everyone – whatever those riches may be!
This blog is part of HuffPost UK’s 12 days of Christmas series. From 20 December we will bring you blogs and vlogs from individuals at the centre of some of 2017′s biggest news stories. They will reflect on the past 12 months and also look forward to new year. To find out more follow our hashtag #HuffPost12Days or visit our series page.