Thursday, 5 April 2012

Tommyontour Paisley Daily Express Today

 

Life is looking up for Tommy

Tommy Whitelaw
HEALTH campaigner Tommy Whitelaw will be the guest speaker at a meeting of a dementia support group in Paisley today...and it is sure to be a poignant occasion for the 48-year-old charity worker.
Tommy looks after his mum Joan – a former Paisley mill worker – seven days a week.
And, this afternoon, he will speak to members of the Renfrewshire Carers Alzheimers Support Group, which has its roots at the old Anchor Mills in the town.
Tommy explained: “My mum spent so many years working in the Paisley mills and it feels as if life has gone full circle now.
“My dad, also named Tommy, was a welder in Paisley and, just after he passed away, mum contracted vascular dementia.
“I cared for mum for a couple of years but started to fall apart last year and had to do something to try to get a bit of help.”
That meant former music merchandiser Tommy went ‘on tour’, although it was somewhat different from his days on the road with chart-topping artists such as Kylie Minogue and Coldplay.
He set off on a trip around Scotland to raise awareness of carers who look after family members or friends suffering from dementia.
Tommy said: “It truly was my salvation. When I look back, it scares me to see what type of place I was in at that time. It was a dark place.
“I wasn’t collecting money on my tour. Instead, I was collecting people’s thoughts on caring for loved ones with dementia.
“I received hundreds of letters and I had promised people that, if they took the trouble to write to me, I would make sure a prominent politician took the trouble to read their thoughts.
“I asked Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon to read the letters and she agreed that something has to be done to help carers.
“She is now looking into the matter on my behalf.”
Today, Tommy will address members of the support group at the Northcroft Medical Centre in Paisley.
The group meets from 1pm to 3pm and there are normally up to a dozen carers in attendance.
Tommy said: “I’ve made an eight-minute video, which I hope will be shown, and I will also introduce members to my weekly blog.
“In addition, I will be reading out a selection of the letters I received while on tour. Many of them were incredibly emotional and reduced me to tears.
“Campaigning for better conditions for carers has helped to give me a focus and I definitely think I’m a better carer as a result.
“That means better care for my mum and the hope is that others can also become better carers for their loved ones.”

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