A little bit of magic in Scotland … and planning the ‘hairy biker’ tour :-)

Ken Howard and I had been planning our trip to Scotland for a long time. Originally we were thrilled because our abstract was accepted as part of the popular ‘Involving people living with dementia’ session at the 23rd European Alzheimer’s conference. However a fantastic response on social media meant that we were invited to do a week-long programme of events, including a radio interview and Whose Shoes? workshops. Huge thanks to our wonderful Twitter friends who made us incredibly welcome.

The conference was great. We enjoyed the keynote speeches.

Gill Phillips, Julie Christie and Anna Tatton.

We enjoyed hearing about the Glasgow declaration… and even signing it with some friends.

We enjoyed meeting long standing Twitter buddies such as Julie Christie and Anna Tatton. Julie who wrote one of the early ‘in my shoes’ blogs.

A lot of the ‘magic’ of big events happens outside the formal framework and planned activities.

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Ken and I found a lot of magic last week. Not least in the Harry Potter train system. We seemed to spent a lot of time at Anniesland looking for platform 9 and three quarters…

We were staying with a lovely friend and really appreciated seeing something of the City on the journey in rather than just staying at the conference venue. We had a lot of fun and even recorded a couple of ‘live interviews’ passing the time while we were waiting for trains. I might add one as an ‘audioboo’ if I get a bit of time 😉

We also learned loads about Dundee Utd Football Club… and made huge progress with the embryonic ‘Hairy Biker Tour of Scotland’

More about those things later… but to whet your appetite for Ken’s tour, here is the film he made about re-building his life – and his beloved Harley – at a storytelling weekend we attended together, with brilliant support from Patient Voices.

We started our week in Scotland with an interview at IRISS FM who had invited us to record a podcast.

I will add a link when it has been finalised as Michelle started by interviewing us in their ‘Creative Quarter’ in Glasgow and then tracked us down again at one of  our Whose Shoes? sessions later in the week  and interviewed some of the lovely participants.

Ken liked the poster outside because it was visual and easy to read.  I learn a lot by seeing things through his eyes – and often they are just the same as mine as I generally find visual stuff easier too!

The Alzheimer Europe conference itself was a hive of good practice, good intentions, inspirational speakers but most importantly PEOPLE – people coming together who really care.

I was thrilled to introduce Ken to other inspirational people living well with dementia, especially my friends from ‪#‎23AEC‬ in Malta: Helga Rohra, Agnes Houston and Nina Baláčková.

We had very fond memories of a bulging-at-the-seams workshop in Malta with Shahana Ramsden… and warmer climes!

And inevitably there were some absent friends

Our presentation was on the first day – always a good thing in my book as I feel sorry for the people on first thing after the Gala Dinner.

We had planned it carefully … as you do for such things. Ken and I had spent several hours in the pub pulling it together…

  • We had also spent a long time with the tecchies in Glasgow making sure Ken’s film and all the embedded audios were working…
  • The room was packed…
  • Helga Rohra, Chair of the European Working Group of people with dementia,  had given us a really welcoming introduction…

SO. What could go wrong?
The speakers were not turned on!!

I think our friendship shone through as Ken and I ad libbed our way through the session and it was wonderful looking around at the audience of people seeing Ken as a shining example of living well with dementia.

I have a small role … passing the salt when Ken can’t reach it (Ken’s lovely quote about the type of support that works for him). A privilege indeed to get such an opportunity. And have fun at the same time.

And, of course, it works both ways – Ken has a MUCH better sense of direction than me.
I am not sure I will be let loose on my own in Glasgow.
And Ken is much much stronger! ‪#‎heavybags‬

Helga has a fantastic ability to juggle many things, and to be incredibly inclusive – like the host of one giant party.

Helga had written notes about each of us but her ‘live’ introduction blended it in a really engaging way. At the end, she even thought to take our name badge out of its plastic container and hand it to us as a souvenir. Thank you Helga! 🙂

Zoe Harris and her brilliantly simple Care Charts.

Zoe Harris and her brilliantly simple Care Charts.

There was an excellent display of posters at the conference. Inevitably most were very academic. Ken had no hesitation in awarding his ‘best in show’ award to Zoe Harris, Care Charts for a very simple reason…

So like everyone else, we were tired but exhilarated at the end of the conference…

But we surprised ourselves with new energy levels to catch the early morning train to Dundee.

Our community based event was very generously hosted by Dundee United Football Club, through the wonderful support of our friends Ang and Steve Thompson.

… and, completely by chance,  Ken and I shared the long journey with Tommy Whitelaw!

As always, it was lovely to receive little tweets of encouragement from our friends ‘back home’

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The Dundee event went well and we had a little celebration afterwards.

And we were happy. It seems people are often happy in Dundee – thank you Ang Thompson for sharing this lovely video


And our final event was in Glasgow. This time it was not dementia specific – more about exploring interest in further developing Whose Shoes? as a tool to support the Scottish agenda, particularly self-directed support. It feels exciting as some of the most innovative use of the tool, ever since the early days, has been in Scotland.

It has been lovely to link up again with the Social Care Ideas Factory and I am hoping to run a workshop at ‘We Chose 2 Climb’, an international event that is taking shape for next Spring.

We met with friends – new and old. We made new connections. We spread our key messages about valuing people and working together for positive change.

We all felt we had started something special in Scotland and are looking forward to seeing how it grows.

We also made significant progress with the ‘Hairy biker tour’ 🙂

Thanks to our lovely friends in Dundee and Glasgow, we have a beginning…

and an end…

And we have made good progress with filling in the ‘middle’ bit since our return… but still lots to do!

And now we have a couple of theme tunes!

And we had FUN! #dementiachallengers rock on!


If you would like to support Ken’s ‘Hairy biker tour’ in any way,
please get in touch!

About Gill Phillips - Whose Shoes?

Passionate about personalisation in health & social care. Creator of Whose Shoes? - an imaginative approach to helping people work together to improve lives. http://nutshellcomms.co.uk
This entry was posted in Blogs, co-production, community engagement, compassion, dementia, in my shoes, personalisation, social media, TLAP - Making It Real, well-being and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A little bit of magic in Scotland … and planning the ‘hairy biker’ tour :-)

  1. Ruth says:

    You are entirely astonishing! Apologies for not having been back in touch…working with government is bogglingly slow – one small step forward, three back, and a sideways shuffle! But I will let you know as soon as there’s something concrete to build on. Take care – don’t overdo it (hollow laugh!) Best wishes Ruth

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Anonymous says:

    I have really enjoyed reading this blog Gill, you looked like you were having the best time and your blogs and tech get better and better. I would love to support the ‘tour’ in whatever way I can. My dad is a Glasgow boy and I have a great affinity with Scotland. I have just finished an ‘art of protest’ course ar West Dean College and so I will donate appropriate art work to you. I have been practicing with non related subjects and was inspired by something I saw from Greenpeace to create a protest poster. I am interested to know what you think. Getting ready for a big Halloween birthday bash (my 50th) tomorrow night, onwards……….. Alison Waters xx


    • Thanks Alison! That’s great, thank you. Your artwork is lovely and that is very generous of you – I loved the pic! Lots of potential support for the tour, which is fantastic. I am seeing Ken next week so we can talk it through and see where we go from here. A wonderfully diverse range of people interested, which all helps bring people together across the various ‘divides’. 🙂 Happy birthday – hoping 50 is the start of even more great things for you. May you have many treats and just enough tricks to keep you on your toes 😉 xx


  3. Pingback: What a year! My ‘take’ on #MatExp: building a change platform – by accident! | Whose Shoes? A catalyst for change in health and social care

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