In 2013 Simon ‘Mac’ McDermott and his family were dealt a devastating blow – his 80-year-old dad Ted was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. As a result, Ted’s memory has been severely affected – to the extent where he sometimes forgets his own son. However, there has been one thing that has managed to bring back the man that his loved ones have nearly lost, and that’s music.
Having been a performer for nearly all of his life, Ted was given the nickname ‘The Songaminute Man’ due to the huge amount of songs in his repertoire. Simon says: “Dad was a singer throughout his life – he was a Butlin’s Redcoat and then travelled around singing in clubs around the country. He worked in a factory when he got married and did the occasional bit of singing on the side.”
Now Simon is using his dad’s amazing singing talents in order to raise awareness and donations for the Alzheimer’s Society. He has been uploading clips of the pair of them singing along to classics like Quando, Quando, Quando and Mack The Knife onto his social media, and the heartwarming videos have gone viral. After setting up a Just Giving page, they have already raised a staggering £58,000, with more rolling in every few minutes; especially impressive considering Simon’s original goal was to raise £1000!
Simon explains that he was moved to raise the money for the Alzheimer’s Society after the support he and his family received from them during times of crisis. He explained “I’m fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Society because of the advice they’ve given us in the last few years. Without them we would have had very little idea or support about how to deal with even the basics of Dad’s condition.
The more Alzheimer’s kicked in, the more Dad became violent – both physically and verbally – it was incredibly difficult to manage. And terrifying at times.
Alzheimer’s Society provide a telephone helpline to sufferers and their families. I cannot begin to describe how a stranger’s voice at the end of the phone line helped when things got really bad.”
After word of Simon’s amazing fundraising effort got back to the charity last week, their Director of Fundraising Michael Dent said that: “Alzheimer’s Society is extremely grateful for Simon’s fantastic fundraising achievements in honour of his father, Teddy Mac. ‘Songaminute’ is an inspiring and touching idea that is not only raising vital funds for the charity, but also highlighting the positive impact that listening to music and singing can have for people with dementia.”
Although Ted’s condition continues to worsen, Simon and his family are clearly living for each day and making the most of these special moments. He says:
“In the last few years his memory has deteriorated a lot – often not recognizing me as his son. It’s a horrible illness. However, now when we’ve got him singing again he’s back in the room. It’s these moments that we treasure.”
All images courtesy of The Songaminute Man/Facebook