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

Cariad Dementia Cafe - News Round Up

We started our short CST session with news that the Band Aid charity single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" had it's 35th anniversary this week. We reminded ourselves that Bob Gedolf and Midge Ure were behind the fundraising effort and Live Aid which followed the next year. We remembered that Michael Burke was the reporter who first brought the Ethiopian famine to the attention of the world in 1984.

We then watched the video and sang along ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjQzJAKxTrE

France 24.com (Denver airport) Metro.co.uk (Los Angeles)

Next, we looked at pictures from the USA, which had suffered severe snow storms over the Thanksgiving holidays. Many people struggled to get home to see their families and were stuck in traffic jams and airports.

We asked who liked the snow? And remembered that the worst winters in the UK.

The 'Big Freeze' was in 1962-63 - temperatures fell to -20c across the UK and snow drifts of 6m were experienced across Wales and the South West. The cold weather started in December and lasted pretty much until March.

Then in 1978/79 came the 'Winter Of Discontent', where a blizzard hit on New Year's Eve and caused widespread disruption to transport and power. This was also the winter of widespread strikes in the public sector, hence the impact was greater with many without heating, and sometimes lighting.

1981-82 was pretty bad, when the South West and Midlands had drifts of up to 23ft. The cold lasted throughout December and January.

The most recent cold snap was in 2009-10. Most of the UK suffered very cold temperatures, as low as -17c, with snow and ice not melting for several weeks. 1,000 motorists were trapped on the A3 in Hampshire from January 5th-6th and water and electricity supplies were disrupted.

We all agreed that as long as you have warmth, food and company then snow and ice outside can be nice to look at. But when you have to venture outside, for work or other commitments, then things can get a bit tricky.

Tina Turner had her 80th birthday last week. We looked at a video of her saying how happy and well she felt.


We then remembered some of her best songs and chose one to sing.

- River Deep, Mountain High, 1966 (Reached number 3 in the UK charts)

- Nutbush City Limits, 1973 (Number 4)

- Let's Stay Together, 1983 (Number 6)

- What's Love Got To Do With It, 1984 (Number 3)

- We Don't Need Another Hero, 1985 (Number 3)

- The Best, 1989 (Number 5)

We selected 'The Best' to sing along with. And went on to say what we were 'The Best' (or 'Good') at ...




Sadly, the deaths of TV chef Gary Rhodes, aged 59, and TV host Clive James, aged 80, were announced this week. Gary Rhodes had suffered complications after acquiring a head injury during a fall and Clive James had endured a long fight against leukaemia.

We remembered Gary Rhodes' passion for cooking British food and his spiky hair. Also, his TV series 'Rhodes Around Britain' and his appearance on 'Strictly Come Dancing'.

We remembered Clive James' satirical TV series and his sidekick Margarita Pracatan.


Next, to brighten the mood, we watched this brilliant video of a young girl dancing with her dog. Unfortunately, it is without sound, but is charming in any case. One Twitter response asked how on earth the dog taught the little girl all those tricks!


We then watched another Christmas advert, this time for Xfinity 2019. Elliott and E.T. were reunited, after a 37 year break (1982).

We remembered the original movie, directed by Steven Speilberg and starring Henry Thomas as Elliott and Drew Barrymore as Gertie. Also the classic soundtrack, composed by John Williams.

We all had a go at saying the famous catchphrase, "E.T. phone home!"

Staying with movies, 'Casablanca' - one of the greatest love stories ever told - premiered in New York City 77 years ago this week.

We remembered the movie starred Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman and included the timeless song "As Time Goes By".

The last line of the movie was, "We'll always have Paris!" Another classic line was, "Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine."

We chose this as our next song (sung by Dooley Wilson) ...


Donald Trump had arrived in the UK this week, for the '70th Anniversary NATO Summit'. Rather bizzarely, he had tweeted a picture of himself as Rocky Bilbao, perhaps trying to convey an image of him being a tough fighter and winner. But in fact the summit was cut short and he left abruptly after several leaders, including Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron were overheard laughing at his attempts to up-stage them.

We remembered that N.A.T.O. stands for 'North Atlantic Treaty Organisation'.

Next, we discussed two local stories.

Happy birthday to us 🥳. Fifteen years ago this week, the 'Wales Millennium Centre' in Cardiff Bay opened to the public. 1.5 million people have visited every year - that's more than 20 million 🤯 They thanked everyone who had supported them over this time. https://t.co/WhNViMP8jV

We remembered the words on the front of the building are: "In These Stones Horizons Sing - Creu Gwir Fel Gwydr O Ffwrnais Awen."

Cardiff's Norwegian Church celebrated its 150th anniversary this week, with a beautiful sunset ceremony.


We remembered that children's author Roald Dahl had been baptised there and completed the names of some of his books ...

- James And The Giant PEACH, 1961

- Charlie And The Chocolate FACTORY, 1964

- Fantastic Mr FOX, 1968

- The BFG, 1982 (Big Friendly GIANT)

- Matilda, 1988

Next, we looked at this video of the Northern Lights from Universal Curiosity.

The Truth Is Out There ... https://t.co/goBM10RXr6

We remembered that the proper name for the Northern Lights is the Aurora Borealis.

We asked who had seen them and who would like to?

Then we sang along with the song 'Northern Lights' by Renaissance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wI01yagcfnc

A couple of doggie stories next.

The Guardian told us about Dogor, an 18,000 year old puppy found buried in the permafrost in Siberia. He was aged about two months old when he died and even his whiskers have survived. Scientists hope to be able to find out whether he is a very early domesticated dog or a modern wolf.

'Dogor' was chosen for his name as it is Russian for 'Friend'.

The Graham Norton and The Dogs Trust reminded us, with this very powerful video, that dogs are for life, not just for Christmas.


Finally, we discussed the terrorist attacks on London Bridge this week. Aside from the fast response from the Police, heroic behaviour of members of the public emerged in the story. With one defending himself against the attacker with a narwhal tusk he had taken off the wall in Fishmonger's Hall and another trying to disable him with a fire extinguisher. A third managed to wrestle the knife from him. The two victims sadly lost were both Cambridge University graduates, namely Jack Merritt, aged 25, and Saskia Jones, aged 23.

We finished where we started, with 'We Don't Need Another Hero', sung by Tina Turner.

The lyrics seemed somewhat appropriate.


Out of the ruins, out from the wreckage Can't make the same mistakes this time We are the children, the last generation We are the ones they left behind.

And I wonder when we are ever gonna change? Living under the fear, till nothing else remains

We don't need another hero, We don't need to know the way home All we want is life beyond the Thunderdome.

Looking for something we can rely on There's got to be something better out there. Mmmm, love and compassion, their day is coming All else are castles built in the air.

And I wonder when we are ever gonna change? Living under the fear, till nothing else remains.

All the children say, We don't need another hero, We don't need to know the way home All we want is life beyond the Thunderdome.

So what do we do with our lives? We leave only a mark. Will our story shine like a light, Or end in the dark? Give it all or nothing!

We don't need another hero, We don't need to know the way home All we want is life beyond the Thunderdome.

All the children say; We don't need another hero, We don't need to know the way home All we want is life beyond the Thunderdome.

Please could you let me know if this weekly news update helps with your CST activities planning and if it worth me continuing with. Many thanks.