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Leading campaigner Tommy Whitelaw to give talks at Colchester Hospital 

09 Feb Leading campaigner Tommy Whitelaw to give talks at Colchester Hospital 

An influential dementia care campaigner will visit Colchester this month to give a series of talks to health care professionals.

Award-winning Tommy Whitelaw, who so far has given more than 500 talks to over 65,000 people across the UK, has been invited to meet staff at Colchester General Hospital on Monday 20 February.

Tommy, who lives in Glasgow, gave up working with some of the world’s top bands to become a full-time carer for his mother Joan from when she was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2007 until her death in September 2012.

The main aims of his talks to health and social care professionals are to raise awareness of the impact of dementia on families and the importance of empowering carers in carrying out their difficult but vital role.

He will give three talks to hospital staff about caring for his mother, about his “Make a Difference” campaign for individuals to pledge to take one key action that could have a positive impact on the lives of people living with dementia and their carers, and the work of the Dementia Carer Voices project, where he is a full-time advocate for carers.

Tommy said: “Over and above policies and strategies, it’s people who make a difference.
“No matter what your role, you have the potential and opportunity to transform the lives and experiences of people living with dementia, families and carers. And that’s a remarkable part to play.”
Tommy was invited to Colchester by the Trust’s previous director of nursing, Barbara Stuttle, who retired in December, after she heard him speak at a conference in November.

Tommy worked in the music industry for 20 years as a band assistant and a music industry merchandiser, and toured the world with U2, Kylie, Elton John and McFly.

In 2011, he embarked on a different tour, “Tommy on Tour”, a walk around Scotland’s towns and cities to collect hundreds of life story letters detailing the experiences of individuals caring for a loved one living with dementia.

His “Make a Difference” campaign has so far received more than 12,000 pledges. Some pledges have been about a simple change in attitude such as “I pledge to listen with open ears and open heart”.

Tommy has won many awards. For example, he won the Age Scotland Jess Barrow Award in 2013, and in 2015 was given the British Citizen Award for Service to Healthcare in recognition of his work to raise awareness of dementia and promote a fuller understanding of the carer journey.