This week’s guest blog comes from Dr Gregor Smith, @ 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.