About Me

Simon O’Donovan MBE has worked in NHS Wales for most of his adult life, supporting people with dementia, their carers and families and developing and improving services to benefit this client group. 

He recently retired from working as a Community Mental Health Nurse within a Young Onset Dementia Service and continues to contribute to weekly CST 'Friendship Group' sessions as a volunteer co-facilitator.


He has been keeping a weekly 'Young Dementia CST Blog' to share and archive tried and tested activities resources, with the ultimate aim of providing an 'off the shelf' resource library of weekly themed CST sessions which can be used on rotation throughout the year. 


The main aim of this website is to share experience and resources freely, in order that others can dip in and out and use some or all of the materials provided in their own CST work. Thus it is hoped, facilitating and supporting the provision of uplifting and enjoyable sessions that optimise people with dementia's quality of life.

This site is not owned by or affiliated to any organisation. It’s a personal commitment, a not for profit exchange of ideas and a resource library which aims to enable more widespread use of CST approaches for people with dementia. 

To this end, 'Guest Blogs' are VERY welcome, but bearing in mind that no images of clients are to be used without their express written informed consent.

Please note that some images are reproduced on this blog from the internet under the 'fair use copyright' principle, in that they will only be used for educational purposes with disability groups and in no way will be linked to profit making activities.


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  • Simon O'Donovan

Heroes & Superheroes

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” Christopher Reeve NEWS ROUND UP St George's Day was on 23rd April 2019. He is the Patron Saint of England, often portrayed slaying the dragon. St George's Cross is a red cross on a white background. The Queen's 93rd Birthday was on Easter Sunday. Happy Birthday Mam! (Mam as in ham, not Marm as in smarm, according to the 2006 film ‘The Queen’, starring Helen Mirren.) Donald Trump's State Visit to the UK has been announced. It will take place on 4th June. Protests are expected, alongside a larger orange blimp. It was Earth Day on 22nd April and Extinction Rebellion protests continued in London. David Attenborough suggested the world had just 12 years left before irreparable damage was done and called on governments to declare a Climate Emergency. Jeremy Corbyn, Leader Of The Opposition, agreed and did so. Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teenager, very impressively addressed UK politicians and media, urging them to do more to protect future generations from climate change impacts. Some things for members to think about (ask them to comment): Eating less red meat / becoming vegan Planting trees / keeping a nature friendly garden Eating locally produced food / buying from local farm shops Growing your own / keeping an allotment Avoiding single use plastics / use a ‘bag for life’ Recycling / reducing rubbish sent to landfill sites Picking up litter / taking part in beach clean ups Investing in solar / using less power generally Riding a bike or walking / using the car less, or not having one Using public transport / over 60s bus pass (in Wales) Fewer air miles / UK holidays (staycations) Reducing carbon footprint generally / turning down the central heating to 19c. Apparently, it was the warmest Easter weekend the UK had experienced since records began. Another indicator of global warming and climate change, perhaps. Sadly Shri Lanka has suffered terrorist attacks on churches on Easter Sunday. The death toll has reached 253.

HEROES Getting on to this week's CST session theme, it was the 80th anniversary of the first Superman comic on 18th April. Also, it was ‘National Superhero Day’ on 28th April. However, we decided to start our discussions focusing on real life heroes and heroines. People that generally enrich society and who should be honoured for it. We asked, who are members’ heroes or heroines? It could be someone famous, or somebody that they know personally and hold in high regard. It could be somebody that they would like to meet and get their autograph of have a selfie taken with. Or somebody they would like to invite round for dinner or buy a drink for down the pub. Has anyone met anyone famous? Take this opportunity to encourage story telling. What type of heroes can people think of. Here's a list: War heroes Olympians Paralympians Sporting heroes Firefighters Police Ambulance RNLI NHS heroes Mountain rescue Armed forces - Army, Navy, RAF We especially noted the bravery of the cave rescuers last year who successfully brought a children’s football team out of flooded caves to safety. We discussed how heroes are honoured in the UK? It could be on the news or in media print, with heroes welcomes and open top bus tours of city, being given the keys of the city, having a golden letterbox in your honour, or being awarded a Queen’s medal. We noted the ‘Honours System’ and the various ranks of honours awarded by Government and HM Queen. The main ones are ... MBE - Member Of The British Empire OBE - Order Of The British Empire CBE - Commander Of The British Empire KBE - Knight Commander DBE - Dame Commander We asked if anyone knew any person who has been awarded one of the honours for their public service and if so, for what particular reasons. The London Marathon had taken place this week. We asked members the following questions. Over what distance is the London Marathon run? 26.2 MILES How many years has it been running for (boom boom!)? 39TH ANNIVERSARY How many runners take part? 40,000 ARE EXPECTED TO CROSS THE FINISH LINE Where does the race start and finish? BLACKHEATH & THE MALL We looked at news stories related to it, including the lady who crawled over the finish line and the man who couldn’t get under it because his Big Ben outfit was so tall. We noted that many runners in the London Marathon do so to raise money for charities and worthy causes. Members thought of their favourite UK or overseas charities and guessed at those which may feature in the top 10 list. Here it is ... 1 Cancer Research UK - £446.5m raised out of a total income of £634.9m 2 British Heart Foundation - £263.8m, £288.2m 3 Macmillan Cancer Support - £214.1m, £218.4m 4 Oxfam - £192.8m, £401.4m 5 Sightsavers - £184.7m, £199.7m 6 RNLI - £170.9m, £190.1m 7 British Red Cross - £139.1m, £261.8m 8 Salvation Army - £130m, £196.3m 9 Save the Children - £125.3m, £370.3m 10 NSPCC - £115.3m, £125.9m Before finishing on this topic, we noted the fantastic work of the Alzheimer’s Society and Young Dementia UK, who work tirelessly to reduce stigma and raise public awareness of dementia related conditions. A few members had gone on ‘Memory Walks’ recently. We also noted the massive contribution made to society by an army of unpaid volunteers.

ICONS OF THE 20TH CENTURY In January 2019, the BBC asked its viewers to assess the achievements of the 20th century's most important and influential figures – men and women who helped shape our world today. Seven programmes were devoted to seven different categories of human excellence, and each one introduced four extraordinary individuals in the categories of Leaders, Explorers, Scientists, Entertainers, Activists, Sports and Artists & Writers. The greatest icon of them all was announced in the final programme on the 5th of February. Print off the images linked above (click on photo) for the tables and ask members to vote for their favourite. Also, ask if any icons are missing from the list as you go through category. Another way of approaching this would be from the images on the table, and the names of icons members wish to add, re rank the finalists and overall winner. Here’s the website link https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/TftBcdwzpP4y7qlzXmXRTy/about-the-show LEADERS SHORTLIST Winston Churchill Lived: 1874-1965 Born: Woodstock, Oxfordshire Known for: Britain’s eccentric but victorious wartime Prime Minister. Nelson Mandela Lived: 1918-2013 Born: Mvezo, South Africa Known for: Freedom fighter who became South Africa’s first black president. Franklin D Roosevelt Lived: 1882-1945 Born: Hyde Park, New York, USA Known for: America’s longest serving president. Led the US out of the Great Depression. Margaret Thatcher Lived: 1925-2013 Born: Grantham, Lincolnshire Known for: Moderniser and Britain’s first female Prime Minister. Not shortlisted: Dwight Eisenhower (American Army General and 34th US President. Lived 1890-1969), Mikhail Gorbachev (Eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union. Lived 1931-Present) & Lech Walesa (Polish trade union activist, Nobel Peace Prize winner 1993 and President. Lived 1943-Present) LEADERS WINNER: Nelson Mandela EXPLORERS SHORTLIST Neil Armstrong Lived: 1930-2012 Born: Wapakoneta, Ohio, US Known for: First man on the moon Ernest Shackleton Lived: 1874-1922 Born: Kilkea, Ireland Known for: Polar explorer and pioneer. Led the famous ‘Endurance’ expedition. Gertrude Bell Lived: 1868-1926 Born: Washington, Tyne & Wear, UK Known for: The first western woman to map and travel across Arabia. Jane Goodall Lived: 1934-present Born: London, UK Known for: Primatologist who revolutionised the study of wild chimpanzees. Not shortlisted: Amelia Earhart (First female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic. Disappeared aged 39 on 2nd July 1937), Edmund Hillary (First to conquer Mount Everest in 1953), Robert Falcon Scott (Antarctic explorer died on the failed Terra Nova Expedition 29th March 2012) EXPLORERS WINNER: Ernest Shackleton SCIENTISTS SHORTLIST Marie Curie Lived: 1867-1934 Born: Warsaw, Poland Known for: Physicist and chemist who discovered radium and polonium. Albert Einstein Lived: 1879-1955 Born: Ulm, Germany Known for: Physicist whose great thoughts allowed us to better understand the universe. Alan Turing Lived: 1912-1954 Born: London, UK Known for: Considered the father of the computer and World War Two code-breaker. Tu Youyou Lived: 1930-present Born: Ningbo, Zhejiang province, China Known for: Pharmaceutical chemist whose research helped saved millions of lives (discovered a new treatment for malaria) SCIENTISTS WINNER: Alan Turing Not shortlisted: Sigmund Freud (Theory of Psychoanalysis. Lived 1856-1939), Francis Crick & James Watson (Discovered the double helix structure of DNA in 1953) & Florence Nightingale (Founder of modern nursing. Lived 1820-1910) ENTERTAINERS SHORTLIST David Bowie Lived: 1947-2016 Born: London, UK Known for: An innovator constantly at music’s cutting edge. Charlie Chaplin Lived: 1889-1977 Born: London, UK Known for: The world’s first global movie star. Billie Holiday Lived: 1915-1959 Born: Philadelphia, USA Known for: Jazz singer whose sultry style stirred the world’s soul. Marilyn Monroe Lived: 1926-1962 Born: Los Angeles, USA Known for: The actress who defined her times. ENTERTAINERS WINNER: DAVID BOWIE Not shortlisted: Richard Burton (Stage and film actor, lived 1925-84), John Lennon (Singer songwriter and peace activist, lived 1940-80) & Frank Sinatra (Performer and actor, lived 1915-98) ACTIVISTS SHORTLIST Dr Martin Luther King Jr Lived: 1929-1968 Born: Atlanta, USA Known for: American civil rights leader who campaigned for black rights. Mohandas Gandhi Lived: 1869-1948 Born: Porbandar, India Known for: Leader of the Indian independence movement. Helen Keller Lived: 1880-1968 Born: Tuscumbia, Atlanta, USA Known for: A writer who confounded attitudes by proving her disability was not debilitating. Emeline Pankhurst Lived: 1858-1928 Born: Manchester, UK Known for: Suffragette and campaigner for women’s votes in Britain. ACTIVISTS WINNER: DR MARTIN LUTHER KING JR Not shortlisted: John F Kennedy (Elected 1961 as 35th President of the USA. Provided federal support for the civil rights movement. Lived 1917-63), Rosa Parks (Known as the First Lady of the civil rights movement. Lived 1913-2005), Peter Tatchell (Human rights and LGBT activist. Lived 1952-Present) SPORTS SHORTLIST Muhammad Ali Lived: 1942-2016 Born: Louisville, Kentucky, USA Known for: As the boxer said himself, he was “the greatest”. Tanni Grey-Thompson Lived: 1969-Present Born: Cardiff, Wales, UK Known for: Paralympian and wheelchair racer who won over the world as well as her races. Billie Jean King Lived: 1943-Present Born: Long Beach, California, USA Known for: Grand slam-winning tennis player who revolutionised the women’s game. Pele Lived: 1940-Present Born: Três Corações, Brazil Known for: The living, kicking essence of Brazilian football. SPORTS WINNER: MUHAMMAD ALI Not shortlisted: Roger Bannister (First to run a mile in under 4 minutes, in 1954. Lived 1929-2018), Martina Navratilova (Considered one of the best female tennis players of all time. Defected to the USA from Communist Czechoslovakia in 1975. Lived 1956-Present) & Michael Phelps (Most successful and most decorated Olympian of all time, with a total of 28 medals in Swimming. Lived 1985-Present) ARTISTS & WRITERS SHORTLIST Alfred Hitchcock Lived: 1899-1980 Born: London, UK Known for: Forward-looking film director and master of the thriller genre. Pablo Picasso Lived: 1881-1973 Born: Malaga, Spain Known for: Pioneering, genre-smashing modern artist. Andy Warhol Lived: 1928-1987 Born: Pittsburgh, USA Known for: Pop artist who saw art everywhere. Virginia Woolf Lived: 1882-1941 Born: London, UK Known for: An author who rewrote the rules of writing. ARTISTS & WRITERS WINNER: PABLO PICASSO Not shortlisted: Agatha Christie (A prolific crime author, writing over 66 titles and celebrated across the world. Lived 1890-1976), James Joyce (Regarded as one of the most influential and important authors of 20th century. Lived 1882-1941) & Harper Lee (American novelist who wrote the seminal work, ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, published in 1960. Lived 1926-2016) OVERALL WINNER: ALAN TURING He was a mathematical genius, who provided the foundation for the modern computer. Working at Bletchley Park in the Second World War, he invented a machine which broke the Enigma Code and saved thousands of lives. Imprisoned for being gay, his legacy helped change social attitudes in Britain. ICONS OF 21ST CENTURY Perhaps finish this section of this week’s CST activities by asking, who would this centuries icons be so far? Suggestions could include: Barack Obama, Stephen Hawking, David Attenborough & Steve Jobs

SUPERHEROES FOCUS OF THIS WEEK'S THEME / MUSIC QUIZ Link to Spotify Playlist here ... https://open.spotify.com/user/1154769589/playlist/36hyLJJ97jQ3VyzaQRKepM?si=B2o4W7jpTa6XjVChqYvjvA If members were to be gifted with a super power which would they choose and why? Here's a list of possibilities: Invisibility Ability to fly Time travel X ray vision Amplified hearing Super strength Mind reading Telepathy Levitation Powers of healing Longevity Ask members to discuss pros and cons of each. (MUSIC) What 1970s US show featured a character named Steve Austin, who was gifted with many of these superpowers after reconstructive surgery following a serious accident? SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN Who starred in this show? LEE MAJORS (MUSIC) Who was Batman’s sidekick? ROBIN What was Batman’s real name? BRUCE WAYNE Who was his butler? ALFRED PENNYWORTH Which ‘bird’ was his enemy? THE PENGUIN Others included? THE JOKER, THE RIDDLER (MUSIC) What was Spiderman’s real name? PETER PARKER How did Spiderman acquire his gift? HE WAS BITTEN BY A RADIOACTIVE SPIDER (MUSIC) What was The Incredible Hulk’s real name? BRUCE BANNER What made him turn green? IF HE WAS ANGERED IN ANY WAY What is he searching for? A CURE FOR THE GAMMA RADIATION WHICH CONTAMINATED HIM (MUSIC) Who starred in the first Superman film in 1978? CHRISTOPHER REEVE Who was his alter ego? CLARK KENT And his female counterpart? LOIS LANE What planet did he come from? KRYPTON Where did he work? DAILY PLANET (MUSIC) Who was Robin Hood feared and loved by? FEARED BY THE BAD, LOVED BY THE GOOD Who was his girlfriend? MAID MARIAN Who were his ‘Merry Men’? LITTLE JOHN, WILL SCARLET, FRIAR TUCK, MUCH THE MILLER’S SON & OTHERS Where did they live? SHERWOOD FOREST Who was his arch enemy? THE SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM (MUSIC) Who was Flash Gordon’s nemesis? MING THE MERCILESS How long did Flash have to save the world? FOURTEEN HOURS What power did Flash Gordon have? SUPERSPEED (MUSIC) What did the masked hero Zorro write with his sword on his enemies? Z Who starred as Zorro in the 1998 movie ‘The Mask Of Zorro’? ANTONIO BANDERAS Who played his love interest, Elena? CATHERINE ZETA-JONES Who is she married to? MICHAEL DOUGLAS (MUSIC) Who starred in the Indiana Jones movies? HARRISON FORD What are the four movies? ‘RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK’, 1981 ‘INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM’, 1984 ‘INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE’, 1989 ‘INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL’, 2008 Who co-starred as Indie’s father in the third film? SEAN CONNERY (MUSIC) What was Tarzan’s proper name? LORD GREYSTOKE What was his monkey’s name? CHEETAH Which 5-time Olympic gold-medalist swimmer played Tarzan in a whopping 12 films, beginning with the 1932 smash hit ‘Tarzan the Ape Man’? JOHNNY WEISSMULLER Ask members to do their best Tarzan call ... (MUSIC) What was Hong Kong Phooey's name and occupation? HENRY THE MILD MANNERED JANITOR What animal was he? A DOG (SPANIEL) (MUSIC) Who starred as Wonder Woman? LYNDA CARTER How did she change into Wonder Woman? SHE SPUN AROUND (MUSIC) How did Popeye acquire his strength? EATING SPINACH Who was his girlfriend? OLIVE OIL And his arch enemy? BLUTO (MUSIC) Who starred in 'The Champions'? ALEXANDRA BASTEDO, WILLIAM GAUNT, STUART DAMON & ANTHONY NICHOLLS What were their special powers to solve crime? TELEPATHY & PRECOGNITON (MUSIC) Who starred as Harry Potter? DANIEL RADCLIFFE What about Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley? EMMA WATSON & RUPERT GRINT What 'Class' were they in? GRYFFINDOR (THE OTHERS WERE SLYTHERIN, RAVENCLAW & HUFFLEPUFF) All first-years at Hogwarts School Of Wizardry must take seven core subjects. What are they? TRANSFIGURATION, CHARMS, POTIONS, HISTORY OF MAGIC, DEFENCE AGAINST THE DARK ARTS, ASTRONOMY & HERBOLOGY. FLYING LESSONS ON BROOMSTICKS ARE ALSO COMPULSORY What game did Harry compete in? QUIDDITCH (MUSIC) Holding Out For A Hero - Bonnie Tyler Which company produced most of the superhero comics? MARVEL COMICS What heroes have we missed from our discussion? IRON MAN CAPTAIN AMERICA MIGHT MOUSE WOLVERINE (There may be others. Let me know if I've missed any obvious ones!) (MUSIC) Heroes - David Bowie "We can be heroes, just for one day." So goes the lyric. Has anyone ever done anything they would consider heroic, brave or good? Has anyone saved or rescued someone or an animal? Or been in the papers or credited elsewhere for an act of courage or for their contribution to society? Or been awarded a Queen's medal or other honour for something they have done? Or jumped out of a plane, run a marathon or walked a mile or done anything else for charity? Perhaps if not them they might have a story to tell about a family member or friend? (MUSIC) We Are The Champions - Queen Thinking back to the 20th Century Icons pictures round, guess at who said the following famous phrases? "Everyone is famous for 15 minutes." - ANDY WARHOL "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." - MUHAMMAD ALI "We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be." - WINSTON CHURCHILL "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." - NEIL ARMSTRONG "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep balance, you must keep moving." - ALBERT EINSTEIN "A day without laughter is a day wasted." - CHARLIE CHAPLIN "I'm not interested in money. I just want to be wonderful." - MARILYN MONROE "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." - MARTIN LUTHER KING (MUSIC) Simply The Best - Tina Turner Ask members to say what they are simply the best at (or suggest their greatest gift or asset based on your biographical assessment). Give a round of applause for each person as they are mentioned. PROVERBS AND IDIOMS Ask members to complete the following phrases: Go from zero to - HERO Courage of your - CONVICTIONS Dutch - COURAGE Put on a brave - FACE Fortune favours the - BRAVE Famous for fifteen - MINUTES Become famous - OVERNIGHT One in a - MILLION Claim to - FAME Stand out from the - CROWD In the public - EYE A household - NAME Super - STAR Unsung - HERO

PRACTICAL ACTIVITIES Help members make Hollywood Walk Of Fame Stars for themselves. Perhaps pre prepare cut outs. Help members write their names with a flourish in bold ink in the centre of the star and adorn them with as much colour and glitter as possible. (Walk Of Fame Stars have five categories: motion pictures, television, recording, radio and live performance, each represented by an emoji under the person's name of a film camera, TV, microphone, radio and drama masks. Maybe choose an emoji from the internet to represent members' greatest gift or an area which they have excelled in... Have some Heroes Chocolates on hand to pass around.