Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The caring side of Celtic Connections - concert for caring via The Irish Voice

The caring side of Celtic Connections

GERARD GOUGH

January 2014




WORKING as a merchandiser and roadie for some of the biggest names in the music world such as U2, Kylie Minogue and The Spice Girls has no doubt left Tommy Whitelaw with some amazing stories from his time on tour. However it’s a very different tour and remarkable set of stories that are acting as the catalyst for his current work.
For several years now, Tommy has been a campaigner for those who live with the effects of dementia—specifically careers—and currently runs his own project in partnership with the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (ALLIANCE), known as Dementia Carer Voices.

Personal experience
The campaign and project came about as a result of the difficulties Tommy first faced when he came home to care for his late mother Joan (right with Tommy).
In 2007, after two decades of touring around the world, Tommy had been experiencing a sense of burnout and a general feeling of exhaustion. To remedy that he decided a trip home would do him the world of good, but the world he returned to, was very different from the one he left.
“I came back up to Glasgow to visit my mum and everything had changed,” Tommy said. “I knew from a distance that something had changed but I just thought she was getting older. I had taken two or three months off from touring—for me really. I was a bit exhausted. I was taking that time off to get a bit of a break. Those three months became six months, then a year. I wanted to try and look after my mum, she couldn’t be left alone, she was struggling and confused. After the end of the first year I made a conscious decision to care for my mum.”
However, having made that decision he—like many people who care for a loved one—felt scared and alone, with nobody to turn to for help.
“The first year was a bit of a fog for the two of us,” Tommy explained. “After the third year we were really falling apart, dementia was affecting my mum’s abilities and awareness. We were just desperately lonely and lost. I went out and tried to get help and I wasn’t treated very well. I was in tears one day asking someone to help me at a social work desk. They gave me a post it note, told me to phone a 0800 number and sent me on my way. I was standing crying, as a 47-year-old man, holding my mum’s hand. I thought that was dreadful because we were in an awful situation. I panicked because I thought that at the end of this I was going to have a breakdown and my mum was going to be put into care. I wanted to know that if my mum was to be put into residential care it was because it was best for her, because of a decision we’d made, not because I’d fallen apart.
“We were desperately lonely. I thought I was the only carer and she was the only person with dementia at the beginning because we were prisoners in our own home.”

Caring people
But Tommy was not alone, and indeed, this initial feeling of isolation and helplessness triggered his campaign. He originally planned to do a carer’s tour, taking him around venues he had previously worked at and speak to people who were encountering similar situations to his own along the way.
“My idea was that I was going to do a walk around all the music venues I’d done concerts in like the Aberdeen Exhibition Centre, Hampden, Ibrox, the SECC and so on,” Tommy said. “I was going to do a carer’s version of a tour and walk it as opposed to being on a tourbus. I called it Tommy On Tour, to show you how your life can change in a moment. Amazingly because I got a bit of publicity, people got in touch and I’d go to see them at their houses, drop-in centres, churches. People would get in touch and ask me to come and speak with them and the people I met were amazing.”
Simultaneously, he began to write a blog also called Tommy On Tour about his experiences caring for his mum and invited people who were in a similar situation to share their own experiences with him. The response was almost overwhelming.
“I said that if people shared their life stories with me, I’d take them to people I thought who should read them be it government, local authorities or the NHS,” Tommy said. “I wanted to capture life stories and I learned more from those letters than from anything else. People have written to me in their hundreds and shared their experiences good or bad. They have written to me in great depth. I get to learn how husbands met their wives, for example—love and life stories. Then dementia comes and it all changes. But by reading these stories we can find a better way to support people and a better way to encourage and include people. These letters helped me become a better son and a better carer. I’m grateful to everyone who has ever sent me a letter, as I believe that they are helping other people.”

Continuing the campaign
Although Tommy’s mum sadly passed away in September 2012, he has continued his campaign which sees him giving talks about the subject of dementia care throughout the country—he gave 80 such talks last year—and his Dementia Carer Voices project works with the government as a strategic critical partner, which has seen him meet with Deputy First Minister—and former Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing—Nicola Sturgeon on a regular basis. However it’s his blog—which along with videos in support of dementia carers has had over 250,000 views to date—that he still relies upon the most, giving and others the chance to share their experiences without judgement.
“The blog has been one of my greatest helps,” Tommy said. “I’d write it every night before my mum went to sleep. I felt like I was telling someone my feelings by writing it. It helped me to share my fears and my struggles. We should all be able to tell someone how we feel. The blog was therapeutic even in the toughest times. It felt like I was exhaling. I think it’s missing from our communities, the aspect of sharing.”

Concert
These shared experiences, coupled with Tommy’s own background in the music industry gave him the idea of organising a concert to celebrate the work of the 660,000 carers throughout the country. That idea is now a reality, thanks to music promoter Mark Mackie, Donald Shaw, festival director of Celtic Connections, and performers such as Hue and Cry, Little Fire and Eddi Reader, who spoke to The Irish Voice of her own personal experience of dementia care and her delight at being involved in the concert.
“My Auntie Mollie in Dublin began to show signs of dementia in her 85th year,” Eddi explained. “She has gone from a feisty, independent woman, to an agitated, dependent and silent one in a matter of four years. The staff at the nursing home are invaluable to us, God bless them. 
“We also have just discovered that Auntie Mollie was 10 years older than what she claimed to be, her whole adult life.  She’ll be 98 on July 4. She was born in the same year as the Easter Rising in Ireland and on the day that commemorates American independence.
“I’m glad to sing for awareness of this condition and the nurses who help us all deal with it. It can strike anyone of us. We are all blessed when someone chooses to care for dementia victims.”
However, as Tommy explained, the concert is intended to celebrate the work of all of Scotland’s fantastic carers and he provided an insight into how an act of kindness helped bring the event about.
“The premise of the concert is to celebrate these carers,” Tommy said. “I had bumped into Mark Mackie of Regular Music and I said I’d love to do something. Amazingly in the blink of an eye he offered us a Celtic Connections event. It’s a remarkable, kind gesture from them, which fits into the kindness I’ve encountered from people. 
“What they’re doing is putting a show called Letters, Life and Love Stories: A Celebration of Caring in Scotland and allowing me to invite people to a pre-concert reception, which the Deputy First Minister will speak at. I’ve given an allocation of tickets to the likes of the NHS, Alzheimers Scotland, Carers Scotland, Age Scotland and they’ll do their own thing and invite 10 or 20 people to the pre-concert reception. That’s the idea is to try and bring these people together, share their stories and we want to thank them in words and music. 
“It’s all about love. Every letter that I’ve received has received the word ‘love’ in it. You know that the person who wrote it did so because they really love someone and are struggling. In every letter the words ‘isolation’ and ‘loneliness’ appear too. We can’t cure dementia but we can fix loneliness and isolation. As I said before, this event is to celebrate carers. On TV they are spoken about in monetary terms, for example ‘carers save governments £10 billion,’ but they don’t speak about the husband, wife, son or daughter. They forget about the people sometimes. My mum went from being Joan Whitelaw to a woman with dementia, which is terrible after having been Joan Whitelaw for 60 years.
“All the artists are giving up their time and I’m going to ask them to read out some of the letters and put a wee show on to say thank you to people for being so brilliant, amazing and kind.”
Celtic Connections has always been a great showcase festival for musicians and performers, but this year, thanks to people like Tommy Whitelaw, it will now showcase some of the kindness, care and generosity that exists, but is often unseen from the carers in our midst.

To read Tommy’s blog visit http://tommy-on-tour-2011.blogspot.co.uk. You can also follow him on Twitter @tommyNtour


http://www.celticconnections.com

http://www.alliance-scotland.org.uk

gerard@theirishvoice.com


Living well with Dementia - thank you for the kind acknowledgement in your new book

Hi

With great thanks to Shibley for the kind acknowledgement in his book just out "living well with dementia " the importance of the person and the environment for wellbeing 

I have been following Shibley for quite a while now and appreciate his knowledge ,kindness ans support for my own awareness work 

Thank you from a son 

Tommy 



Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Today Speaking Birmingham Saffron centre #bcdamcp Learning & Development day January 28th

 
 
Speaking Birmingham Saffron centre #bcdamcp Learning & Development day January 28th

 
 
 



 
 







Hi

With great thanks to Sue Ebanks and all the team at bcda Learning & Development Service for inviting me to speak at their event on January 28th  being held at the Saffron Center Birmingham

I look forward to attending and speaking about my wonderful mum Joan, the letters I receive the people I meet on my tour dementia and caring

I will post more details soon please below some information on the event to date


Tommy you have been scheduled to speak at 11.30am

Q&A Panel
 You have been included on this slot 1.55pm along with ‘Mary Latter’ (Cross City Commissioning Lead) and other panel members from The Alzheimer’s Society

The Social Care Commitment will also be a feature presentation on the day which will be the session preceding your presentation
      

 With great thanks to Sue  and for more information please see links below

Sue Ebanks
Workforce Development Lead
bcda Learning & Development Service, Lifford House, Stirchley, B30 3BW



@sueebanks: @tommyNtour #bcdaCareProviderMeeting #Dementia #SocialCareCommittment #DignityActionDay #LookingForward #TonmyNTour 👌


Saturday, 25 January 2014

Today Speaking Birmingham Heartlands Hospital

Hi

With great thanks to Sam foster chief Nurse Heart of England hosptial and Diane Eltringham for inviting to speak to staff Monday evening in the lecture theater 

I have a free night Birmingham as I have been kindly invited down by Sue Banks to speak at an event Tuesday and Sam and Diane have kindly arranged a talk at the hosptial whilst I am down 

I look forward to meeting everyone and speaking about my wonderful mum Joan ,the letters I receive and peolpe I meet on my tour 

Thank you to all of the above for the opportunities 

Tommy 


Thursday, 23 January 2014

Thank you NHS England 6Cs live

Hi

With great thanks to all involved with the NHS England 6Cs live conference in London Monday past 
It was a great privilege to speak at the this event and be on the patients panel chaired by Neil Churchill  

With thank you Jane Cummings ,Neil ,Dionne for organising the amazing NHS staff I met and who have sent me the kindest of messages via twitter and e mail and last but not least my new pals the NHS 6Cs live Caremakers 

Thank you for the kindness 

Tommy


wonderful evening with hospice St Francis

Hi 

With great thanks to Sarah and all the team from the hospice St Francis and Peace hospice Watford
for the lovely evening of engagement and discussion Tuesday evening  
It was a great privilege to attend and speak at the event 
I also got a wee surprise visit from a friend who lives in Watford ,we have not met for many many years along with a few friended I know through twitter was so lovely ,thank you Emily ,Mary and age-concern Luton 
thank you for the great kindness 
Tommy   








Wednesday, 22 January 2014

A look back in Photos Monday night - Letters, Life and Love Stories concert









Pauline McNeill, who played at the reception with her band MC4



The wonderful Quarriers Voices


Huge thanks to Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for her fantastic support.


                                                        Cathy McDonald Hosting the show  

Jamie McGeechan aka Little Fire


Siobhan Wilson


The guys from Kassidy


Horse McDonald


Hue and Cry


Joe Nisbet Jnr


Emma Pollock


Tommy Reilly


Louis from Admiral Fallow


Eddi Reader


Everyone back on stage for encore of 'Lean on Me'

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Big decisions on what to do next


Hi 

Well I am on the train to London via Watford for two talks ,today at hospice St Francis and tomorrow speaking at NHS England 6cs live event 

Last night was the most amazing of nights and has left me thinking what to do next ?


A lot of soul searching over the next couple of days 


Tommy 

Carers Celebrated at Celtic Connections Concert

Carers Celebrated at Celtic Connections concert

Songstress Eddi Reader and indie folk five-piece Admiral Fallow were among the artists who took to the stage last night for a unique concert to celebrate the work of the 660,000 carers in Scotland and those who support them.   

Joining them on the bill for the ‘Letters, Life and Love Stories’ Concert organised by the the ALLIANCE, Regular Music and Celtic Connections were Emma Pollock accompanied by the Cairn String Quartet, Horse McDonald, Hue & Cry, Kassidy, Tommy Reilly, Joe Nisbet Jr, Siobhan Wilson and Little Fire. 

The special concert, paying tribute to those who play a caring role was brought to an end in a fitting manner when all of the acts returned to the stage for a group performance of ‘Lean On Me.”






Ahead of the concert, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addressed 500 specially invited guests including carers and inspirational professionals and volunteers who play a supporting role in their journeys. A host of partner organisations from across Scotland who represent and support carers took part in the reception and exhibition to share what caring meant to them.

The project was spearheaded by Tommy Whitelaw, who worked for 20 years in the music industry and later spent five years caring for his mum Joan. He started a campaign to raise awareness, gathering letters from carers. Now as Project Engagement Lead with the ALLIANCE’s Dementia Carer Voices Project, he speaks to carer groups, health and social care professionals and students as well as key decision-makers who have influence over the lives of people affected by dementia.








Tommy Whitelaw, Project Engagement Lead, ALLIANCE said: 

“Over the last few years I have seen the amazing lengths that carers go to through love and met the most inspirational people who make a difference during the carer journey. This event is the perfect opportunity to say thanks to these inspirational people for the role that they play.” 
  
Irene Oldfather, Programme Director, ALLIANCE said:
  
“Tommy’s work reaches out to people and touches their hearts. For those who have been through the experience, it resonates and they realise that they are not alone. And for those who haven’t, it touches a chord and opens their eyes to the emotional rollercoaster of caring for someone with dementia, which unless you have experienced it, almost defies description.

“The letters which Tommy has collected are a window into hearts, minds and souls and deserve to be read and heard.”

Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP said:

"I'm delighted to support the work of Tommy and his colleagues at The ALLIANCE and their invaluable efforts to raise awareness and inform policy on dementia and carers issues.

"The Scottish Government continues to take national action on both of these key health and social care issues. This event is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the key roles unpaid carers play across Scotland." 

Review Concert for Caring - a celebration of Carers and caringvia @Mrpinkster


The first review of the Concert for caring is in via @mrpinkster 

As part of this years Celtic Connections, Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall played host to a concert for Alliance this evening.
Some of Scotland’s finest musicians, both young and a little less young had come out to support a number of charities including Age Scotland, Sense Scotland, Carers Trust, Quarriers and Unity.
A celebration of all caring in Scotland, it was all about Letters life and Love.
Host for the evening Cathy McDonald spoke of how humbled she had been whilst reading some of the stories that carers from across Scotland had shared. And although the night was a celebration, bringing together some fine musical talent, it was evident to see just how much the cause meant to everyone. And of course, what would a concert celebrating caring be without carers.
In numbers, carers from Ayrshire, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Skye, Shetland and Orkney but to name a few places from across Scotland came and made their presence felt. After all, this concert was for them.
The music started with Little Fire. Hailing from Ayrshire, his acoustic melodies were just the ticket to kick start the night. Keep an eye out for his debut album later this year. Such a packed line up meant only time for two or three songs for each act and next up was the hypnotic voice of the mesmerisingly talented Siobhan Wilson. Simply put, her first track The Terrible Woman was acoustic bliss.
The guys from Kassidy followed, a sound, which rightly or wrongly reminded me of The Beach Boys meets kings of Leon with John McEnroe on bass. (Check them out, you might see what I mean) Their guitar sound and energetic drumming provided a really good groove. They gave way to Horse MacDonald, who started by sharing a story about caring that was very close to her heart. She told of the gift she had given to her own mother when she was dying… then duly shred the song “Carefully” with the audience. A very emotional rendition reminded everyone just why they were there.
Scottish favourites Hue and Cry then took to the stage and closed the first half of the evening performing Labour of love, Violently and the song they encouraged us all to make the opening song of the 2014 Commonwealth Games… Mother Glasgow.
Following the interval, Joe Nisbet Jr kicked things off with a few songs from his new album that took 4 days to record but he reckoned had been 30 years in the making. His blend of easy bluesy sound and sing along toe tapping had everyone back into the swing of things.
Next, Emma Pollack performed three numbers with the Cairn string Quartet including Don’t make me wait.
Tommy Reilly started off by fooling the light technicians by taking his seat at the piano for his opener, Out There Somewhere. Just Woken up on acoustic guitar was next. A super cool sound from a super cool guy.
Admiral Fallow then shared a couple of songs about friends, family, self evaluation – real life really, including Beatle in the Box.
And so Eddi Reader took to the stage, donning apparel we have come to know and associate with her so well. As had many before her on this beautiful evening she shared a few stories of caring, of ownership and of the love that makes the Scots such magnificent people. She closed with a fantastic rendition of Mona Lisa, delivered in the true style of that cigarette yielding Scottish Auntie that everyone knows and loves so well.
Finally, the whole gang of artist were then reunited on stage for one last song. And, as if anyone needed any reminding what the evening was all about, the closing number summed it all up perfectly. Lean on Me!
And who better than Tommy Whitlelaw, the man who organised the evenings event, to give the closing words.
Asked to be introduced simply as carer and son, Tommy told the audience his mothers life had been a love story.
And that the night had felt like a love story too.
I doubt anyone in the audience would disagree!
"Lean on me " a celebration of caring 


Monday, 20 January 2014

Daily Record and Scotsman Articles - Concert for Caring - letters lifeand love stories

Tommy Whitelaw gave up working with some of the world’s top bands to look after his ill mother. Now he’s helping to say a musical thank you to all of Scotland’s carers, discovers Susan Mansfield
SOMETIMES, life throws you a curve ball which changes everything. That happened with Tommy Whitelaw, a music-industry merchandiser who worked with some of the world’s biggest bands, came back to Glasgow in 2007 to visit his mother, Joan. A short visit turned into a life change as he stayed on to care for his mother through her journey with vascular dementia.
Whitelaw, who had toured the world with artists such as U2, Elton John, Kylie and McFly, swapped the rock’n’roll life for a spare room in his mother’s house. He lived with his mother as a full-time carer for nearly six years until Joan died in 2012. He is now a full-time advocate for carers working with Health & Social Care Alliance Scotland, but a chance meeting with an old contact from the music business inspired plans for a unique concert on Celtic Connections’ biggest stage.
Admiral Fallow, Eddi Reader, Emma Pollock, Horse McDonald, Hue & Cry and Little Fire are among the artists signed up to take part in Letters, Life and Love Stories – A Celebration of Caring at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on 20 January. While tickets are on sale to the public, a quantity have been put aside for carers, professionals and volunteers, who will be nominated to attend the event as guests.
“It’s really to say thank you for caring,” says Whitelaw, who has organised the concert along with Mark Mackie from Regular Music and Celtic Connections director Donald Shaw. “To say thank you to carers for caring for their loved ones, and thank you to nurses and other health professionals for caring for us when we need support. We’re going to celebrate the organisations that help carers, and celebrate the carers themselves, give them a good time.”
Many full-time carers don’t have a lot of chances for an evening out. When Whitelaw was looking after Joan, he rarely went out in the evenings, fearing that she would be unable to cope alone, and quickly lost touch with his “old life” in music. “I only went out nine times in the evenings in the years I was caring for my mum. My previous life was forgotten to me, my passion was for caring. My mum was my best pal, and I stopped working because I wanted to care for her, but it was a completely different world.”
As Joan lost her memory, music formed an important bond between them. “My mum couldn’t speak for the last months of her life because she’d lost her vocabulary, but when I sang to her she would sing the last words of the song. My dad used to sing Perry Como songs to her at parties, and although she couldn’t remember my dad, the man she loved for 40 years, she would remember the song. My mum didn’t know who I was, she didn’t know who she was, but in the morning if I sang to her, her eyes would light up. That brought me great joy. It was amazing just to hear her voice.”
As a full-time carer, Whitelaw often felt lonely and isolated, and found accessing services difficult. “At one point, we reached a crisis when I didn’t think I could go on any more. Nobody was showing me how to care for my mum. I went to a local health organisation and asked for help and I was told to go home and phone an 0800 number. I was standing there, crying, holding my mum’s hands, asking someone to help us, and they gave me a post-it sticker with a phone number on it. It felt like nobody was helping us.”
These frustrations inspired him to launch his own blog and invite other carers to write to him about their experiences. He received hundreds of letters. Joan stayed in a nursing home for a week while Whitelaw launched Tommy on Tour, a journey across Scotland, mostly on foot, to share experiences with other carers, and to present their letters to MSPs at the Scottish Parliament. The project continues as Dementia Caring Voices, under the umbrella of the Alliance, and some of the stories he has collected will feature in A Celebration of Caring.
“A lot of people told me they felt lonely and isolated, but all the letters have the word ‘love’ in them. They might be having a difficult time, but the reason they send the letter is because they love that person. I hope the concert engages with people, lets them know they’re not alone. There’s no cure for vascular dementia, but we can cure isolation and loneliness.”
Stories are crucial, he argues. Support for carers would be better if it could be more person-centred, taking into account the individual and their life story. “We often talk about carers and caring in terms of money [unpaid carers save the Scottish economy an estimated £10.3billion per annum]. We rarely talk about the fact it’s somebody’s husband or wife, or their mum or brother or sister. I think they have to take into account who we are, who we’d like to be and who we were. If you take those into account we’ll be able to support people better.
“All too often we judge people by a diagnosis or a condition. For 68 years my mum was the most hard-working, kind, amazing woman – I was lucky to have such a mum. Then she got diagnosed with dementia and in people’s eyes she stopped being Joan Whitelaw, she just became someone with dementia.”
• Letters, Life and Love Stories – A Celebration of Caring in Scotland, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 20 January 20. www.celticconnections com


Tommy Whitelaw with Kylie Minogue
Tommy Whitelaw with Kylie Minogue













A MAN who gave up his job working for the world’s biggest bands to look after his mother is staging a star-studded gig to thank other carers.
Tommy Whitelaw, 51, spent 20 years handling merchandise for acts ranging from U2 to Kylie Minogue before caring for his mum Joan for five years until her death from vascular dementia 18 months ago.
He has been campaigning for three years to raise awareness of Scotland’s hidden army of carers.
And on Monday, he will welcome hundreds of them to Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall for an event featuring acts including Eddi Reader, Hue and Cry and Admiral Fallow.
He explained: “It’s to say thank you to people for their love and their devotion.
“All the artists are giving up their time for free – it’s an amazing gesture.”
Tommy now works with Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland, speaking to carers’ groups, medics, social workers, students and politicians as he campaigns for people with dementia and their families to get the care they need.
He said: “I used to think that I was the only carer in the world and my mum was the only person with dementia.
“But when people started sharing their stories, I realised there were actually 660,000 carers in Scotland and we all had similar hopes, struggles and dreams.”
His mum won’t be far from his thoughts as the curtain goes up.
Tommy added: “This makes me happy as I think she’d be happy about it.
“People ask what it was like travelling the world with bands for 20 years but it’s nothing compared with the people I’ve met in the last five years.
“It’s love and devotion that gets people through it when they’re caring for someone and so I hope they have a wonderful night on Monday.”


The first review of the Concert for caring is in via @mrpinkster 

As part of this years Celtic Connections, Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall played host to a concert for Alliance this evening.
Some of Scotland’s finest musicians, both young and a little less young had come out to support a number of charities including Age Scotland, Sense Scotland, Carers Trust, Quarriers and Unity.
A celebration of all caring in Scotland, it was all about Letters life and Love.
Host for the evening Cathy McDonald spoke of how humbled she had been whilst reading some of the stories that carers from across Scotland had shared. And although the night was a celebration, bringing together some fine musical talent, it was evident to see just how much the cause meant to everyone. And of course, what would a concert celebrating caring be without carers.
In numbers, carers from Ayrshire, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Skye, Shetland and Orkney but to name a few places from across Scotland came and made their presence felt. After all, this concert was for them.
The music started with Little Fire. Hailing from Ayrshire, his acoustic melodies were just the ticket to kick start the night. Keep an eye out for his debut album later this year. Such a packed line up meant only time for two or three songs for each act and next up was the hypnotic voice of the mesmerisingly talented Siobhan Wilson. Simply put, her first track The Terrible Woman was acoustic bliss.
The guys from Kassidy followed, a sound, which rightly or wrongly reminded me of The Beach Boys meets kings of Leon with John McEnroe on bass. (Check them out, you might see what I mean) Their guitar sound and energetic drumming provided a really good groove. They gave way to Horse MacDonald, who started by sharing a story about caring that was very close to her heart. She told of the gift she had given to her own mother when she was dying… then duly shred the song “Carefully” with the audience. A very emotional rendition reminded everyone just why they were there.
Scottish favourites Hue and Cry then took to the stage and closed the first half of the evening performing Labour of love, Violently and the song they encouraged us all to make the opening song of the 2014 Commonwealth Games… Mother Glasgow.
Following the interval, Joe Nisbet Jr kicked things off with a few songs from his new album that took 4 days to record but he reckoned had been 30 years in the making. His blend of easy bluesy sound and sing along toe tapping had everyone back into the swing of things.
Next, Emma Pollack performed three numbers with the Cairn string Quartet including Don’t make me wait.
Tommy Reilly started off by fooling the light technicians by taking his seat at the piano for his opener, Out There Somewhere. Just Woken up on acoustic guitar was next. A super cool sound from a super cool guy.
Admiral Fallow then shared a couple of songs about friends, family, self evaluation – real life really, including Beatle in the Box.
And so Eddi Reader took to the stage, donning apparel we have come to know and associate with her so well. As had many before her on this beautiful evening she shared a few stories of caring, of ownership and of the love that makes the Scots such magnificent people. She closed with a fantastic rendition of Mona Lisa, delivered in the true style of that cigarette yielding Scottish Auntie that everyone knows and loves so well.
Finally, the whole gang of artist were then reunited on stage for one last song. And, as if anyone needed any reminding what the evening was all about, the closing number summed it all up perfectly. Lean on Me!
And who better than Tommy Whitlelaw, the man who organised the evenings event, to give the closing words.
Asked to be introduced simply as carer and son, Tommy told the audience his mothers life had been a love story.
And that the night had felt like a love story too.
I doubt anyone in the audience would disagree!
"Lean on me " a celebration of caring 

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Tribute - a wee wife up in heaven by Glen Mirrilees for JoanWhitelaw - my mum



Thank you Glen you made me cry you made my heart smile 

Hi Tommy, 

As i sign of grattitude i wrote this for you tonight, i cannot thank you enough for the support you have given me and iam so grateful. This poem is yours and yours alone, i give all copyright ) you may use it in any way you see fit and i hope maybe parts of it will be of use to you in your crusade.


 
TRIBUTE  

THERE’S A WEE WIFE UP IN HEAVEN
HER LITTLE SON WAS LOUD
SHE COULDN’T BE MUCH PROUDER
TOOK HIS MESSAGE TO THE CROWD.

HE STOOD TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
AND THAT INDEED, HE DID
HE OPENED UP THE PEOPLE’S MINDS
TO PROBLEMS OFTEN HID.

EMBARESSMENT AND STIGMA
HIS WORDS, HE WOULD EXPLAIN
TO SHARE SOME UNDERSTANDING
OF THIS ILLNESS OF THE BRAIN.

AS SOME WILL LOSE A LOVED ONE
NO MATTER HOW YOU CARE
AS SOME WILL NOT REMEMBER
EVEN THOUGH YOU’RE STANDING THERE.

THIS ILLNESS, REALLY CRAZY
THIS ILLNESS, SO UNKIND
AS IT STRIPS THE LOVE, THE ,MEMORIES
IN THE CIRCLES OF YOUR MIND.

SO SPEND A MOMENT THINKING
AND TAKE THE TIME TO SHARE
CAN WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
TO A MIND THAT ISN’T THERE.

Glen Merrilees his poems to raise awareness MH from personal experience


I met and heard Glen merrilees   speaking at the ALLAINCE conference last year sharing his wonderful poems about his life and to raise awareness on mental health issues 

He sent me a few today you can follow Glen @glenmerrilees 

Mental health - Awareness


FAIRGROUND FROM HELL

I’M VISITING THE FAIRGROUND
FOLK SAY I LOOK WELL
BUT I’M VISITING THE FAIRGROUND
THE ONE THEY BUILT IN HELL.

YET AGAIN I’M STRUGGLING
FOR I AM NO DAY TRIPPER
MOOD IS UP THEN DOWN AGAIN.
CHAINED TO THE THE BIG DIPPER.

STOMACH ON THE WALTZER
MY BODIES ON GHOST TRAIN
HORRIFIC THOUGHTS OF SUICIDE
FLASHING THROUGH MY BRAIN.

I’M ON THE HELTER SKELTER
I CLIMB AND REACH THE TOP
GLAD TO PAY FOR FUN RIDE
THEN SUDDENLY I DROP.

BROWN NUTS FROM THE TROPICS
I SIT AND WONDER WHY
I’M A SELF DEFEATING TARGET
A COCONUT THAT’S SHY.

SMALL FORTUNE FOR MY TICKET
TRY AND HOOK A DUCK
BUT LIKE THIS SOULS THAT EMPTY
I AM OUT OF LUCK.

WATER FLUMES WERE HOPELESS
LIKE TIG I’M ALWAYS HET
THOUGH THE SUN IS SHINING
I ALWAYS END UP WET.

PAID FOR THE CLAIRVOYANT
MY FUTURE COULD I SEE ?
BUT OMENS WERE HORRENDOUS
TURNED WHITE ON SEEING ME.

I TOOK SEAT UPON A DODGEM
I WOULD DUCK AND DIVE
USELESSNESS AND SELF REBUKE
WHY AM I ALIVE.
I WAS SAT UPON A PONY
ON THAT MAGIC CAROUSEL
MADE THE FACE THAT’S SMILEY
SO NOT A SOUL COULD TELL.

I VISITED THE FAIRGROUND
YET NOT A SOUL COULD TELL
I VISITED A FAIRGROUND
THE ONE THEY BUILT IN HELL.



DEPRESSION

CAN YOU SEE ME THROUGH THE DARKNESS
CAN YOU SEE ME THROUGH THE GLOOM
DEPRESSIONS MADE A HOME FOR ME
A CELL, A TINY ROOM.

REACHING OUT FOR ANSWERS
I TRY TO QUELL THE PAIN
SOMEONE STOLE THE SUNSHINE
I’M IN THE DARK AGAIN.

THERE’S LOVED ONES ALL AROUND ME
ARMS STRETCHED OUT IN AID
DEPRESSIONS GRIP IS STRONGER THOUGH
IT’S ME WHOSE BEING PLAYED.

THOUGHTS THEY COME TO HAUNT ME
KEEP FLASHING THROUGH MY HEAD
YOU WORTHLESS, USELESS, WASTE OF SPACE
YOU ARE BETTER DEAD.

I’M JUST A SINKING BATTLESHIP
ON A STORMY SEA OF PAIN
A JELLYFISH UPON A BEACH
BENEATH THE ACID RAIN.

THIS SICKNESS KEEPS RETURNING
ON AND OFF FOR YEARS
I’VE FOUGHT SO MANY BATTLES
I’VE SHED SO MANY TEARS.

YET I SHALL KEEP ON FIGHTING
AS I HAVE NO OTHER CHOICE
IGNORING ALL THE MADNESS
AND THAT SUICIDAL VOICE.

SO LISTEN HERE DEPRESSION
PUT THIS UPON YOUR WALL
I’LL CRUSH YOU UNDERNEATH MY HEEL
AND I SHALL STAND UP TALL.


BARRIERS

THERE’S PEOPLE THROWING INSULTS
THERE’S PEOPLE THROWING STONES
YOU CANNOT SEE THIS ILLNESS
NO SIGN OF BROKEN BONES.

SO MANY NASTY COMMENTS
REMARKS ARE SO UNKIND
YOU CANNOT SEE THIS DARKNESS
THIS POISON IN THE MIND.

HEY LOOK, THAT GUY IS MENTAL
A LOONEY, WHAT A WASTE
YOUR BITTER, TWISTED COMMENTS
LEAVE AN ACRID TASTE.

JUST REMEMBER I’M A VICTIM
TO THIS PAIN YOU CANNOT SEE
DEPRESSIONS MADE A HOME IN HELL
ESPECIALLY FOR ME.

DO NOT JUDGE THIS COVER
YOU SIMPLY HAVE TO LOOK
I’M DROWNING IN A SEA OF PAIN
PAGES MISSING FROM THIS BOOK.

WOULD YOU BERATE THE LOWLY CRIPPLE
AND CALL POOR SOUL A NAME
MY ILLNESS NEEDS NO CRUTCHES
HANG YOUR HEAD IN SHAME.

I DO NOT PLEAD FOR SYMPATHY
UNDERSTANDING IS THE KEY
AS WITHOUT THIS MURDEROUS ILLNESS
YOU’RE JUST THE SAME AS ME.

JUST SHOW SOME UNDERSTANDING
AND MAYBE LEND YOUR EARS
THEN MAYBE YOU COULD SAVE A LIFE
OR STEM THE FLOW OF TEARS.

BREAKING DOWN THE BARRIERS
I TRY TO CHANGE YOUR VIEW
ONE IN FOUR’S A VICTIM
AND THE NEXT ONE COULD BE YOU.



Love stories 


HAVE YOU ?

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THE BEAUTY
IN A PARTNERS CHILDBIRTH PAIN
OR FELT HER ADORATION
WHILE DANCING IN THE RAIN

HAVE YOU EVER WATCHED HER SLEEPING
AS YOU GENTLY STROKED HER SKIN
ADORATION IN YOUR FINGERTIPS
A LOVE FROM DEEP WITHIN

HAVE YOU EVER SUFFERED HEARTACHE
BEING PARTED FOR A DAY
COUNTING DOWN THE SECONDS
YOU’D TRADE YOUR SOUL AWAY

HAVE YOU EVER SEPERATED
AND SUFFERED MONSTROUS PAIN
EVERY FIBRE IN YOUR BODY
YEARNS TO HOLD HER ONCE AGAIN

HAVE YOU EVER WATCHED A THUNDERSTORM
IN A LOVERS WARM EMBRACE
OR CAUGHT A TEAR OF HAPPINESS
RUNNING DOWN HER FACE

HAVE YOU EVER SHARED A SUNSET
THEN WATCHED THE STARS ABOVE
THE BUBBLE THAT YOUR LIVING IN
A BUBBLE FILLED WITH LOVE

HAVE YOU EVER HEARD CONTENTMENT
IN A LOVERS SUBTLE SIGHS
TWO AS ONE UNITED
AS YOU LAY BETWEEN HER THIGHS

ALL THESE THINGS WELL I HAVE DONE
AND OH SO MANY MORE

A LUCKY, LUCKY, LUCKY, MAN
WITH THE WOMAN I ADORE.
COPYRIGHT © GLENN MERRILEES

The Westquarter Rose

A started go’an tae disco’s
Where I met ma prom night  queen
A walked in’tae that jam packed bar
She wi’s the only one I seen

So noo I’ve met ma Aileen
Ma sunshine in the sky
That deep depression lifted
Now tears of joy I’d cry

It didn’t take that long tae see
Tae see she wi’s the one
Three years of love she gave me
Then she gifted me a son

Her love it gently snared me
And slowly pulled me in
For me not not to return it
Would be a moral sin

How much I now adore her
There ain’t nobody knows
She’s gorgeous she’s my princess
She’s my own Westquarter rose

COPYRIGHT © GLENN MERRILEES


she’s my lifebuoy when I’m drowning
She’s my anchor when I’m high
She’s always stood beside me
I’ve goat tae question why

Please tell me what you see in me
Are you low in self esteem
You’ve went and picked a nightmare
But you could have had your dream

There’s better men are out there
Bigger apples oan the tree
But I must have a guardian angel
For I’m blessed that you opted fur me

So what is it that you see in me
When I’m sick, I’m sad, I’m down
You lift, understand, and heal me
You’re my laughter you’re my clown

The things that we’ve been through
All the problems that arose
You’ve always stood beside me
My own Westquarter Rose

The years they passed like weekends
An a wi’s happy fur a while
Though I’d struggle through the winters
When I’d wear a plastic smile

By Glenn Merrilees

COPYRIGHT © GLENN MERRILEES

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