Coleraine singer-songwriter Anthony Toner joined Alzheimer’s Society staff, supporters, volunteers and people affected by dementia last week for a celebration of all Singing for the Brain groups in Northern Ireland to mark this year’s Dementia Awareness Week.
Singing for the Brain is a programme developed by Alzheimer’s Society for people with memory problems.
Anthony, whose personal experience of dementia has influenced his most recent single ‘An Alphabet’, said: “I lost a beloved aunt to the disease a few years ago and my dear father is currently in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease. And throughout all of that time I’ve been quite lucky that my father has remained very social and very content within himself and that could so easily have gone the other way.
“The big thing with the condition for me is that it has brought all of the family back together. All of the cousins rallied round when things were bad and I have reconnected a lot with my family, and that is a positive thing that has come out of it. And also I find as I travel around that it is hard to find one family that has not been touched by it. I think as a community we need to gather together more and help each other out and be more aware of the needs of carers and sufferers of this disease.
“I just released and album called Ink and there is a song on the album called ‘An alphabet’ and there is a line in the song about my father. My father we hold on tight if you don’t know who I am that’s alright, A is for Alzheimer’s. Throughout my father’s condition - in the early stages and right up until now - music has been incredibly powerful. Music is an incredibly powerful connecter for people with this disease and their carers, so events like this are very important in highlighting how important music is.”