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Living with Alzheimer’s: A harmonica for Ronnie

Living with Alzheimer’s: A harmonica for Ronnie

A photographic exhibition to raise awareness for Dementia during World Alzheimer’s Month, September 2015-Remember Me.

‘Dementia…My Father’s story – Remember Me’ by Mark Seymour

As a professional photographer, Mark Seymour had always taken photographs of his parents and his children. So what started off as pictures of mum and dad going about their daily lives, became a way of documenting Dad Ronnie’s journey living with Alzheimers. It was a difficult and painful project but something Mark felt compelled to do, bringing meaning not just to his family but also in the hope of taking something positive from this situation and using it to help raise the awareness for others of what dementia does to a person and their family.

Mark watched as his father transformed from being a fit, active and creative man, to being unable to remember his own family’s names.

‘The photography was almost therapeutic for me,’ Mark said. ‘It allowed me to spend time with him and to feel I was doing something….It can be quite difficult spending time with someone who has no idea who you are and not getting anything back when you are talking to them…Photography was my way of coping.’

Harmonica Used to trigger Memories

Ronnie Seymour HarmonicaAs Ronnie’s condition deteriorated his harmonica and a picture of his rare Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle bike were brought into the care home in order to try and trigger old memories.

Remarkably, no longer recognising his family, Ronnie could still remember how to play songs on his harmonica – including ‘God Save the Queen‘.

Back in 2007 Dannecker Harmonicas supplied Ronnie with a fully customised Echo Tremolo 48 harmonica key G  – it was only recently that Antony learned how much Ronnie treasured this harmonica.

Mark explains; ‘Dad had a collection of about five or six, including a lovely, top-quality Hohner I’d bought him for his birthday 15 years or so earlier. Playing a harmonica was something he’d always done. He wasn’t professional standard, but he was proficient. After a while in the home, dad had declined to the extent that you had to hand him things like food. Otherwise he didn’t know they were there. “I didn’t know that was for me,” he’d say, as someone passed him a meal that had had been lying on the surface beside him. It was the same with the harmonica. He wouldn’t pick it up on his own. But when someone put it in his hands, he was still able to play a tune.’ 

Living with Alzheimer’s: A harmonica for Ronnie

The exhibition of Mark’s remarkable and candid photography is planned to coincide with Alzheimer’s Awareness month in September 2015. It covers Ronnie at home, in hospital and in the care home and celebrates his life as much as it recognises the pain and heartache. It’s a thank you to Ronnie’s wife, Winnie for her strength and love and to Ronnie’s doctor and carers whose support the family are so grateful for.

Neil James, a friend, fellow photographer and film maker approached Mark about recording Winnie and Ronnie’s story. As Neil interviewed Winnie it was incredible for Mark to hear her stories of how his parents first met met and their early married life. Neil’s short film is planned to be screened during the exhibition.

Kickstarter Fundraiser for a photographic exhibition to raise awareness for Dementia during World Alzheimer’s Month, September 2015-Remember Me.

Mark has set up a Kickstarter Fundraiser asking for support to fund this exhibition celebrating Ronnie’s life and raising awareness of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. He is planning to use gallery space in the Oxo Tower, London for two weeks in September 2015 to coincide with Alzheimer’s Awareness month and open the exhibition to the public on a daily basis.

Antony Dannecker has donated an Dannecker Optimus 24ct Gold Plated harmonica to help raise funds for this most worthwhile endeavour.

Dannecker Optimus Gold Harmonica

The funding will cover the gallery costs and staffing the exhibition and, in addition, go towards the printing of the exhibition photographs and book by Loxely.

Also planned are two special evening events, one for family and friends and invited guests to whom we wish to thank for their support, and a second evening to encourage people to donate to Alzheimers UK and sign up to become a Dementia Friend.

All the team at Dannecker Harmonicas wish Mark Seymour and all involved with this project the very best of luck.

Ronnie Seymour Kickstarter

CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO THE KICKSTARTER FUND

Mark has been publicising the exhibition and, in particular the Kickstarter Fundraiser, over recent days and the story has been covered by most of the UK printed press and national TV stations.

‘Totally indebted to the Mail on Line who have helped raise the awareness of the Kickstarter campaign ( Ronnie’s Story ) and Alzheimers to another level. After 6 hours the article had received over 2000 shares along with calls from both CNN and SKY News requesting permission to run the story. Sky News will be running the feature on Saturday morning (13th June) at 9.45 am.

Here is the kick-starter campaign with just hours to run…We can still get there.’

https://www.kickstarter.com/…/dementiamy-fathers-story-rem…/

The Daily Mailhttps://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3119923/Living-life-Alzheimer-s-Photographer-s-touching-images-document-father-s-four-year-struggle-active-grandfather-man-no-longer-remember-son-s-name.html

BBC Newshttps://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-32722654

Watch the Sky New Interview here: https://news.sky.com/story/1501412/son-photographs-fathers-dementia-battle

Follow Mark Seymour on Twitter@MarkSeymour1960

2017-02-08T10:53:24+00:00 June 14th, 2015|Harmonica News|