A local NHS support group for people with a lesser-known form of dementia received a moving visit from one of the country’s top cartoonists.
The Lewy Body Dementia group, based at the Meadows hospital in Stockport, got a presentation by Tony Husband around his father’s experience of dementia, based around his own cartoons.
Tony is best known for humorous cartoons which have appeared in many of the country’s leading newspapers, as well as the popular ‘Yobs’ strip which has been running in Private Eye magazine for over 30 years.
In more recent years however, Tony has also become a leading figure in raising awareness around dementia, working recently with Exeter, Lancaster and Edinburgh Universities in increasing understanding of the condition.
This work was inspired by his experiences with his much loved dad Ron, who lived near Tony in Hyde, Tameside, and who struggled with dementia in the last years before his death in 2011. After drawing cartoons exploring his dad’s struggles with dementia, and the emotional impact on those he loved, Tony was encouraged by his friend Stephen Fry to compile them into a book; Take Care Son.
The book explored how Ron’s condition caused much distress and affected his whole family, while also reminding readers of the man behind the confusion, his love for his dog Lossie and the landscape around Werneth Low, and his passion for researching information on the area’s First World War Memorial. Tony brought the book to life in a presentation which was sad, funny and poignant.
Lewy Body Dementia is less well known than Alzheimers, but affects over 100,000 people in the UK. This type of dementia can be associated with Parkinson’s Disease. The Lewy Body Dementia group is a support group for people with the condition, together with their partners, carers and families. It is run by both staff from Stockport NHS Foundation Trust and Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, with support from the Alzheimer’s Society.
The group helps with advice and support on living with the condition, and meets regularly with a number of guest speakers from different fields of healthcare and elsewhere, offering their own expertise and insight. Tony’s presentation went down very well with the audience.
Maria Curphey, Parkinsons Specialist Nurse for Stockport NHS Foundation Trust said: “Our group users really appreciated Tony’s wonderful presentation, which really brought to life the difficulties that dementia can bring both to those with the condition and their families. Tony has been working very closely with researchers to explore the impact of illustrating the emotional impact of the diagnosis.
“Our group is very much focused on how to live as well as you can with Lewy Body Dementia, and through exploring both the difficult and the positive journeys, we offer a supportive environment to enable people to live with their diagnosis as best they can.”
Tony Husband said: “It was wonderful to be part of and share my story with The Meadows group. I met some lovely people. Those living with dementia and their carers are doing some amazing work”.