Thursday, 30 June 2011

Hi again!

Hiya folks,

Sorry it's been a bit quiet on my blog over the past few days. It's not been as quiet as that for 'Tommy on Tour'!

Got a few more visits coming up over the next couple of weeks. Going to a Princess Royal Trust for Carers group tomorrow in Glasgow, an Alzheimer Scotland carers' group in Prestwick on 6th July and the North Dementia Forum in Glasgow on 13th July. Busy times!

All the best,


Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Even more thank yous! Brilliant support for Tommy on Tour :-)


Had a fantastic day in Kilmarnock. Just want to thank Yvonne Stewart and Katy Hawker from Alzheimer Scotland for getting me involved in today's event and letting me meet the Musical Minds group.

Big thanks also to David and Perry (for arranging Take That tickets) and Keith and Benny (for Bon Jovi tickets) - absolutely fantastic!



Tuesday, 21 June 2011

More tour dates and a very big thank you


Sorry for being a bit quiet over the past couple of days - trying to get back into a routine after my big walk. Letters and emails are still coming in, which is fantastic. If you haven't written a letter yet, you've still got time. All the contact details are at the top of the blog. I'll be at a post-diagnostic support event in Kilmarnock tomorrow and a carers' event at the Thistle Hotel in Glasgow on Thursday - the tour's not over yet!

I want to say a huge thank you to Ivan Kushlick and Stacey Maranz for arranging for two Kings of Leon tickets at very short notice for a raffle prize. They've been fantastic - helpful above and beyond the call of duty.



Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Gold stars all round!


If you've seen my wee film, you'll have seen me chatting away to some pupils from Lourdes Secondary School. They've been doing a project on caring and it was great getting the chance to speak to them about what it's like to be a carer.

Me with some of the pupils from Lourdes Secondary School

Well, today I was given over 100 letters from pupils in s1 at the school. All about caring: young carers, kids looking after their parents and other relatives, how their families are coping with grandparents who have dementia. It's amazing - so much thought and effort has gone into them. I've even been invited back next term to talk about reading the letters. I'm overwhelmed, I really am.

I'm so chuffed that young people are thinking about stuff like this. They're the ones who'll be making a difference a few years down the line.A big thanks to Mrs Lennon, Mrs McGettrick and all the staff and pupils for embracing my campaign to collect letters and raise awareness. 

All the best,


Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Carers Week and photos from Glasgow Green Family Funday


This week is Carers' Week. Sometimes being a carer can make you feel like your all on your own. But you're not. There's an army of us across Scotland, hundreds of thousands of us, caring for people at home. Don't try to cope with caring on your own. There's no shame in getting in touch with other people - charities, social work, your GP, your local church - to get information and help.

Carers Scotland have put up a page on their website, letting people know that my tour is still going, as have the Dementia Services Development Centre. Alzheimer Scotland have also put the story as top news item on their site today.

I had a great time at the Family Funday in Glasgow Green on Saturday. Alzheimer Scotland's had support services in Glasgow for 21 years and they wanted to celebrate it with a great day out in the city. We even had some sunshine - well, in the the morning anyway! I met some more people and I was asked to draw the raffle.

Me drawing the raffle, with help from Angi (Dementia Advisor)

I'm going to the dementia cafe at the Helensburgh Dementia Resource Centre (16 East Clyde Street) this Saturday, then I'm off to Kilmarnock on Wednesday 22nd. Don't want to let the grass grow under my feet!



Monday, 13 June 2011

A week's a long time in awareness raising, but it's not long enough...


I'm back home, back in Glasgow. My mum came back from respite yesterday and I'm so glad to have her with me again. I've missed my wee mum.

It's hard to believe that this time last week I was meeting Nicola Sturgeon, Stewart Regan and being filmed in football stadiums. This time last week I was headline news. Well, I might not be on your telly tonight, but 'Tommy on Tour' marches on! Over the next few weeks I want to collect more letters and keep raising awareness. As soon as I know where I'll be, it'll be on the blog. Looks like I'll be in Ayrshire around the 22nd, hopefully in Helensburgh at some point too. Can't stop the tour now, not when it's doing so well!

I'll have some photos from the funday at Glasgow Green up soon. In the meantime, I want to share a few more pics for last Monday - a truly amazing day!


Don't forget - you can still send your emails and letters. All the details are at the top of the blog page.



Friday, 10 June 2011

Home baking in Edinburgh


Today I was at the head office of Alzheimer Scotland in the west end of Edinburgh. I got a tour through the building - from finance to fundraising - and got to meet loads of staff. Even had a wee photo with them, as you can see below!

Me and the Alzheimer Scotland team in Edinburgh

They laid on a sandwich lunch for me, with some lovely homebaking from Maureen (who's been following me in the Memory Bus for most of the week) and Tricia. Some really nice words were said and I got a wee bit choked up. That's happened to me a few times this week. It's never got any easier, speaking in public. Still do it though. For my wee mum.

Like I said yesterday, this isn't the end of the tour. Not yet. I want to give carers enough time to get their letters and emails in, so the tour will be rolling on (just not quite so busy!) until at least the end of June. I'd really like to get to some more carers' centres, to more places on the west coast, and to talk to more people. It's been a real privilage to meet so many wonderful people this past week. I'll never forget the man I met in Aberdeen. He was in his mid-80s and he was looking after his wife, who was about 82. He'd been caring for her for 10 years and she's much further on than my mum. But he coped so well and he was so patient. I take my hat off to that man - he's an inspiration, as are so many like him.

Tomorrow I'm back in the dear green place. It's the 21st birthday of Alzheimer Scotland's Glasgow services and I'm going along to their family fun day at Glasgow Green. Hope the weather stays nice and I hope lots of people come along.

All the best,


Thursday, 9 June 2011

Getting talked about.


Four days down. One day to go. Well sort of. I've been thinking a lot over the past few days. Most carers don't have a lot of time to themselves - I know that well enough.  But I also want to make sure I get as many letters as I can. So I plan to keep 'Tommy on Tour' going for a wee while yet. I'll be home soon and caring for my mum again (and I'm glad - I've misssed her a lot this week), but I still want to get out and meet people. Keep raising awareness and keep collecting letters. Not quite sure how this is going to work yet, but I'll be sure to keep you all posted!

Oh, and I got a mention in the parliament, but more about that later!

I was made really welcome by everyone at the Dementia Services Dementia Centre this afternoon. It's at the Iris Murdoch building in Stirling Uni and June, Eileen and Juanita were lovely. The centre has a library full of books about dementia, everything from textbooks to picture books, and it's open to the public.

Me and June Andrews at the DSDC
 It was when I was at the centre that I found out I'd been mentioned at the parliament! George Adam, MSP for Paisley, put a motion in yesterday that was mentioned this morning. Time for a wee bit of copy and paste...

*S4M-00252 George Adam: Former Paisley-Mill Worker’s Son Raises Awareness of People with Dementia and their Carers—That the Parliament recognises the efforts of Tommy Whitelaw in raising awareness of the varying forms of dementia and the condition’s effects on families and carers; notes that Tommy is on a 150-mile trek across Scotland, visiting some of the nation’s landmarks to highlight the roles played by those caring for someone with the condition, including Tommy’s mother, a former mill worker from Paisley; further notes the wide support that Tommy is receiving from organisations including Alzheimer Scotland, Carers Scotland, local groups, employers, football clubs and schools, and acknowledges the innovative step of collecting letters from carers during the hike, detailing their experiences.
Supported by: Fiona McLeod*, Bob Doris*, Jamie McGrigor*

What a surprise! Not even handed any letters in yet. It's amazing what a bit of publicity can do. Imagine what it'll be like when we actually get the letters in. I can't wait.


Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Making new friends


I don't think I can describe the impact of the past couple of days. I knew that it couldn't just be me trying to cope with being a carer. But I don't think I realised just how many people are in the same position. I've spoken to so many people since Monday morning. So many people who've told me about how they've been affected by caring for someone with dementia.

I made five new friends this morning: Rose, Grace, Francis, Pearl and Liz. I met them at the Dementia Resource Centre in Dundee and, honestly, I could have chatted to them for hours. We shared our experiences, we laughed and we even cried a wee bit. I was sorry to leave them, but I'm so glad to have met them. I'd also like to thank the staff at the centre for making me feel so welcome.

Me and my new friends

 This afternoon I was in Perth. I was asked to open Alzheimer Scotland's new service at the St Paul's Centre in New Row. I didn't know I was the one meant to be cutting the ribbon! Another great bunch of people.

Tomorrow I'm in Falkirk. I'm seeing Neil Sowerby from the Falkirk and District Association of Mental Health in the morning, then I'm with the Alzheimer Scotland Memory Bus at St Francis Xavier's around lunchtime, off to the Dementia Services Development Centre in Stirling in the afternoon and going to a carers' group in Stenhousemuir in the evening. A busy day, but I'm definitely looking forward to it!

Before I go, here's a wee video of me made from some of the filming that happened on my first day. Hope you like it.


Dundee & Perth today!

Hiya everyone!

Another great day yesterday. I was at the dementia drop-in at St Mary's Cathedral in Aberdeen and I met some amazing people. I also heard some truly awe-inspiring stories: loads of folks coping with some really difficult stuff on a daily basis. I take my hat off to them, I really do. They've promised to send me some letters. I hope they do - those are the sorts of stories that our leaders need to read.

Later in the day I was off to Dundee and I got caught in the lovely 'summer' weather. Just as well I've got my 'Tommy on Tour' waterproof!

Me outside Dundee train station.

I was heading over to the dementia lecture at Ninewells. Some lovely ladies there recognised me off the TV and said I had to say something at the lecture. Not used to being a celebrity! Still I said a few words (I was really nervous!) and lots more people took my flyers, which was great. The more letters the better.

Did a quick interview on Radio Tay this morning, before heading over to the Dementia Resource Centre on Morgan Street. The Alzheimer Scotland Memory Bus will be there too. Then it's off to Perth this afternoon. Busy times!



Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Heading north...

Hiya everyone,

Yesterday was a bit of a whirlwind, but in a good way. It was great to have so much support for 'Tommy on Tour' and to meet so many people on my first day. There's some footage of me up on the STV website - you can see it here - Dementia carer in one-man roadshow to raise awareness.

Off to Aberdeen this morning. If you see me up there, give me a wave!

All the best,


Monday, 6 June 2011

Quick update and a few photos

Hiya folks!

Wow, what a day! It's been absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much to everyone who came along today or helped to make it happen (or both). There's been lots of new emails to 'tommy on tour' after the TV and radio coverage yesterday and today. It's great to see dementia getting so much time on the news and I hope it gets lots of people talking about the illness. Anyway, I've got some photos from today and you can take a look at them here - my first day.

Plus my visit to Hampden!

Tomorrow I'm in Aberdeen, at the dementia drop-in in St Mary's Cathedral on Huntly Street. Really looking forward to meeting people there and collecting more letters. The Alzheimer Scotland Memory Bus will be at the Morrisons supermarket on King Street: you can get information and advice from that too.

Best get an early night tonight - I've still got a lot of travelling to do.



Friday, 3 June 2011

Itinerary update and a bit more besides

Hi again, folks!

Just a couple of days to go and I have to tell you - I'm feeling a bit nervous! I can't wait to meet everyone and collect lots of letters. It's just that it's been a long time since I went touring and life's a lot different now than it was back then. Still, I've had so much encouragement from so many people, that I know I must be doing something right.

I seemed to be in front of a camera or behind a microphone for most of today - just hope I said all the right things. I'll be on Radio Scotland this Sunday morning at 7.05am (so set your alarm clock), talking to Sally Magnusson. Then I'll be Radio Scotland again on Monday morning for Good Morning Scotland. Then I'll be on BBC's  Reporting Scotland and STV's Scotland Today on Monday night. You'll not miss me on Monday, that's for sure!

Anyway, here's a quick update of where I'll be and what I'll be doing 6-10 June.

Monday 06/06 (my busiest day!): Glasgow, Hamilton & Motherwell
See the post below! I'm going to loads and loads of places.

Tuesday 07/06: Aberdeen
10.30am - 2pm Meeting with carers at St Mary's Cathedral drop-in dementia cafe.
Alzheimer Scotland's Memory Bus will be at the Morrisons supermarket on 215 King Street from 11am to 3pm if you want to pop in for a chat, to get some information or to hand in a letter for 'Tommy on Tour'
4pm onwards - heading through to Dundee for the big dementia lecture at Ninewells Hospital. Just sitting in the audience - not going on stage!

Wednesday 08/06: Dundee & Perth
10.30am to 12.30pm meeting with carers at Dementia Resource Centre on 9 Morgan Street. The Memory Bus will be there too.
2-4pm meeting with carers at opening of new Alzheimer Scotland service in Perth (St Paul's Centre, 14 New Row). The Memory Bus will be at the A K Bell Library just along the road.

Thursday 09/06:  Falkirk & Stenhousemuir
11am - I'll be meeting Neil Sowerby from the Falkirk and District Association for Mental Health.
3pm - Meeting with June Andrews at the Dementia Services Development Centre in Stirling
The Memory Bus will be at St Francis Xavier church in Hope Street, Falkirk, 12-4pm.
In the evening, I'm heading along to a local carers' group in Stenhousemuir.

Friday 10/06: Edinburgh
Meeting with Lothian Early Onset Support Service at Alzheimer Scotland's office in Edinburgh.

Hope the weather stays good for next week!


Thursday, 2 June 2011

Busiest day ever?


Well, I was a busy man before I started caring for my mum and I've definitely been kept busy as a carer, but I think Monday may be just about the busiest day of my life! So many people have got involved and so many places want to support 'Tommy on Tour' - it's absolutely incredible. So I'm putting it all down here in the hope that my blog readers can help keep me to time.

9am - Go to Hampden to meet the Chief Exec of the SFA, Stewart Regan, and collect some letters. I used to spend a lot of time in Hampden when I did the music gigs and it'll be great to see it again. Big thanks to AnneMarie Arthur for making this happen.

9.30am until - Bellahouston Sports Centre for the start of my walk. If everyone turns up that says they're going to turn up, then it's going to be really busy here! Some people have said they want to walk with me for the first mile. That's great, but please be careful. No walking on the road and no disrupting the traffic, or I'll get into bother at the next stop, which is...

10.15am - Helen Street police station. The lads at Strathclyde Police, especially Stuart Horsburgh, have been real stars in helping me get this walk off the ground.

10.40am - Rangers Charity Foundation at Ibrox. Big thanks to Gillian McKelvie for sorting this one out, putting stuff about my walk on their website and just being so helpful.

11.30am - Nicola Sturgeon MSP, contituency office on Paisley Rd West. The Deputy First Minister been keeping a close eye on my plans for my walk is really keen to read the letters you send me.

12.50pm (or thereabouts) - Lourdes Secondary School on Kirriemuir Ave. The kids here are doing a fantastic project on caring. It's great to know that the next generation are taking a real interest in dementia and I can't wait to see the sort of work they've been doing.

2pm - Celtic Park at Parkhead. Cheers again to AnneMarie Arthur for setting this one up, and so quickly too.

3pm - Strathclyde Fire & Rescue HQ in Hamilton. Big thanks to Louise Barclay for setting this one up. Meeting a couple of Chief Commissioners, collecting some letters and I've even been promised a cup of tea and a sandwich. Can't say fairer than that!

5pm - Motherwell FC at Fir Park. Hopefully meeting the Chief Exec of Alzheimer Scotland, Henry Simmons, plus Allan Burrows, Motherwell's Head of Media. Perhaps even a player too.

Phew, whit a day! If you see me out and about, say hi and give me a wave. It'll keep my energy up!



My mums name was Joan ,my Mum Had Dementia - our Story 9 Short Films

Tommy’s speech, providing a carer’s perspective,  on the theme of “ No – one ever asked   ” highlighted the transformational impact that ...