Deputy Chief Medical Officer pledges to make a difference!

This week’s guest blog comes from Dr Gregor Smith, @DrGregorSmith Deputy Chief Medical Officer at Scottish Government.

Project Engagement Lead Tommy Whitelaw met with Dr Gregor in May, where they spoke out the project and our You Can Make a Difference Campaign. We are very proud to display Dr Gregor’s pledge and guest blog here:



“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted” …Aesop

My first encounter with Tommy was at the NHS Scotland national event when he spoke at a session I was involved in a couple of years ago. I knew about him, but had never met him, and I was intrigued to see and hear him up close and personal. He’d also spent time on the road with some of the biggest bands around, and, being a fan of all things musical, I was desperate to hear a little of his experience.

I’ll never forget the silence in the large room as he delivered a very open and emotional account of his experience. Silence, until the inevitable sobs started to splutter from around the audience into the consciousness as he told the story that he and his beautiful mother, Joan had lived. It was remarkable, powerful and couldn’t help but touch you. Highlighting the need for greater awareness about the impact of dementia, on individuals and their carers, and the human need for love and kindness; both to give, and to receive.

Since that time, Tommy and I have spoken at other events together and the effect of this message on me has never become diluted. I’ve watched the long and winding road that he cuts across the country, mostly via social media, and the response he gets from the sites that he visits. He is inspirational and has been truly successful in ensuring that we all think more carefully about the impact of dementia on people and their families.

That’s why I’m always happy when Tommy gets in contact; and why I’m excited about offering my support and making my pledge. In all the conversations we’ve had, I don’t think we ever did get around to exploring his music stories, but that’s only because the exchanges have been about so much more. And I’m better off for it.

I’m reminded of a poem I read recently in the excellent book for new doctors “Tools of the Trade”. It’s called Psalm Eighty-eight Blues and it is written by Diana Hendry, the first writer in residence at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary.

        Lord, when I’m speechless

        When something – not just sorrow

        But under that – a dull nameless dreich

        About the heart I hardly seem to have

        When this afflicts me

        When hope’s been cancelled

        When the pilot light of me’s put out

        When every reflex and response

        Has been extinguished


        Send word, snowdrop, child, light


If you added Tommy Whitelaw to that list, that would work for me. Thanks Tommy.



Posted in "You Can Make a Difference" Pledges, 'Viewpoint' Blog Posts

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