Scottish Health Awards: Nomination for Scot who helps dementia carers after going through the same with his mum

VOTING ENDS TODAY

TOMMY Whitelaw is devoted to helping improve the lives of those who care for dementia sufferers through his campaign Dementia Carer Voices.

Tommy Whitelaw has toured the country giving talks about being a carer
Tommy Whitelaw has toured the country giving talks about being a carer
Phil Dye/Daily Record

TOMMY WHITELAW spent five years as a full-time carer to mum Joan as she suffered from dementia.

The 51-year-old, of Glasgow, gave up his job handling merchandise on concert tours to care for her as the progressive disease took its toll.

Initially, he struggled but after getting help he set out to make sure other carers didn’t suffer in silence.

Joan died a year ago, aged 73, but Tommy is still working to improve the lives of other carers.

Now he’s been nominated for the Scottish Health Awards in the Volunteer category.

Tommy told how his work began two years ago with a tour of Scotland, speaking to fellow carers.

He said: “I wanted there to be fewer people feeling the way I did, and I also wanted to find out how other people coped, so that I could be a better carer and a better son.

“I asked people to write to me with their experiences and that’s something that continues to this day.

“I handed a lot of those letters in to the Scottish Parliament and now I’m going out and speaking about those experiences in hospitals, colleges and universities, health and social care departments and carers’ centres.

“I speak about the things as a carer that helped me move forward and also about the things which held me back and I show people the difference a good nurse, doctor or social worker can make.

“I remember once having a district nurse who sat and put her arm around me, told me I was doing all right and showed me how to do some things. That meant the world to me.

“Without the right people around you, caring can become impossible, so it’s important they know the difference they make to the lives of others.”

Tommy now works with the charity Alliance on his campaign – named Dementia Carer Voices.

He has already spoken to thousands of people around the country, with his talks focusing on his story of becoming a carer, and those of many people like him.

“My mum had always put her arm around me and made things better but, for the first time I was having to do that for my mum,” he said.

“In trying to do that I lost my voice and I was falling apart beside her, and not feeling able to tell people about that is a dreadful place to be in.

“So I don’t have slides or facts and figures. It’s about how starting this campaign helped me realise I wasn’t alone and how people can make a difference to the lives of carers.”

As well as his talks, Tommy made a short film called It’s Okay to Ask for Help and is planning a concert as part of Celtic Connections in January.

Nominations close today. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on November 7 hosted by Fred MacAulay.

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/health

 

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