Tommy on tour: a mission to raise awareness of dementia
Posted 15 March, 2011
LEFT: Tommy Whitelaw with mum, Joan.
Tommy Whitelaw is a man on a mission.
For years he lived a hectic lifestyle in the music industry: running global merchandising operations for the Spice Girls, McFly, Kylie and U2. He accompanied them on international tours, travelling from venue to venue by luxury tour bus and staying in the world’s best hotels.
However, for the past few years he’s been a fulltime carer for his mum, Joan, who has vascular dementia. He’s struggled to cope on the limited welfare benefits available for carers, had problems with his own health and become isolated from family and friends. He made his choice willingly, but it’s shown him just how tough it is to live with dementia and how many carers struggle to cope with very limited resources.
During Dementia Awareness Week (6-12 June 2011), Tommy travelled across Scotland; talking to fellow carers and finding out about their experiences. He also collected letters from carers: anyone who was willing to write about their experiences – good or bad – caring for someone with dementia. In November 2011, he handed those letters over, in person, to Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Scottish Parliament.
Tommy continues to speak to carers groups, as well as key decision-makers who have influence over the lives of people affected by dementia. He is still gathering experiences, to make sure they are shared with those who can make life better for carers. If you care for someone with dementia and would like to send a letter, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or post it to: Tommy on Tour, c/o Alzheimer Scotland, 22 Drumsheugh Gardens, EDINBURGH EH3 7RN.
I love my mum; she sacrificed so much when I was young and I’m happy to care for her at home now. But life as a carer can be incredibly hard. I want to raise awareness of this illness – something that affects so many people across Scotland – and of what it’s like to be a carer.
- Tommy Whitelaw