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

Here are the components of last week's 'Cariad Dementia Cafe' short CST session.

We started with the news that a Border Collie sheepdog called Megan sold for £18k this week. She will leave her home in Northumberland to herd cattle in Oklahoma. Shepherdess Emma Gray was astounded by the news from the auction and had to ring to make sure it wasn't a hoax. The sheepdog breeder and trainer said, "Afterwards I went to Marks and Spencer and bought Megan some chicken and let her sleep on my pillow."

Members thought this was a hefty price tag, though if she was as talented as seems to be the case she is probably worth every penny. We all hoped she will have a good life in the USA with her Waygu cattle job and a safe journey.

A new woodland tribute to George Harrison is to be created in Liverpool. The council has chosen what would have been the former Beatle's 77th birthday to announce plans for the 12-acre George Harrison Woodland Walk.

We all agreed this was a lovely idea and will help his memory live on.

A forgotten passageway used by prime ministers and politicians as far back as 1660, complete with historic graffiti, has been discovered in the Houses of Parliament. Historians working on the renovation of the House of Commons found the lost 360-year-old passageway, hidden in a secret chamber. It was briefly rediscovered in 1950, during repairs to bomb damage, but then sealed off again and forgotten about - until now. "To say we were surprised is an understatement - we really thought it had been walled-up forever after the war," said Mark Collins, Parliament's Estates Historian. Liz Hallam Smith, historical consultant to Parliament's architecture and heritage team, said: "I was awestruck, because it shows that the Palace of Westminster still has so many secrets to give up."cInside an old parliamentarian wig was found hanging on a nail and original graffiti left by the workmen who helped block the passageway on both sides in 1851, which read: "This room was enclosed by Tom Porter who was very fond of Ould Ale." Remarkably, a light switch which was probably installed in the 1950s still worked and the large Osram bulb was in tact and lit the passageway. Here's the link to the story with video - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-51630630

Our 'Story Of The Week' was from @BoredPanda. Mary and Jake’s marriage is not only charming for the fact that it has survived for more than 7 decades, but it also showcases what love can do against all odds. Mary Jacobs is a British woman, while Jake originally hails from Trinidad. The mixed-race couple fell in love back in the ’40s when Jake was serving in the UK during World War II. Their story, shared by Keith, recently went viral, drawing attention to their love and struggles.

An amazing story, which led us to our first song - 'Ebony And Ivory', by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder. Here is the YouTube link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZtiJN6yiik

Next, it was time from some @DadJokeMan jokes ...

Terrible nights sleep! I dreamt I was crafting wood on a lathe with my left hand and flipping pancakes with my right... I’ve been tossing and turning all night...!

Is it just me or have pancakes not tasted the same since Jif changed to Cif ??

My local pub “The Phoenix" burnt down yesterday. It's reopening today...

My dad worked for 40 years in a factory making clown shoes... No small feat...

I bet Rick Astley really struggles with lent...

As Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday started the 40 days of Lent before Easter, we next discussed what people were giving up? The general agreement was we would give up giving things up, after all life's too short.

'The Guardian' reported that Bob Weighton had become the oldest man in the world this week, at the great age of 111. Chitetsu Watanabe, the previous record holder, is reported to have died at the age of 112 in Japan on Sunday just days after claiming his 'Guinness World Record' certificate. Mr Weighton, a former teacher and engineer from Alton in Hampshire, who was born in Hull on 29 March 1908, reacted to the news by saying, “Well, I don’t really feel satisfied, because it means someone else has died. I just accept it as a fact, it’s not something I ever intended, wanted or worked for, but it’s just one of those facts of life. You might find it amazing, but it’s just one of those things.”

We all agreed Mr Weighton looked in fine form considering his age. We clarified again that:

"The Queen sends messages of congratulations for Diamond (60th), 65th and Platinum (70th) wedding anniversaries and every year thereafter. Her Majesty also arranges messages for 100th, 105th birthdays and every year thereafter."

It would have been Elizabeth Taylor's 88th birthday this week, had she still been alive. (February 27, 1932 – March 23, 2011) We remembered a few of her most famous films:

- 'Lassie Come Home', 1943

- 'National Velvet', 1944

- 'Giant', 1956

- 'Cat On A Hot Tin Roof', 1958

- 'Cleopatra', 1963

- 'Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf', 1966

We next watched this delightful movie from @TheDodo called 'Animals Make The World Magic'. Link here - https://twitter.com/dodo/status/1233466902879571968?s=20

This led us to remembering Johnny Morris, who presented the show 'Animal Magic' for 21 years from 1962-83. We watched a clip of a 1999 BBC programme paying tribute to his gift of getting up close and personal with animals and making them seem more human by giving them voices. We also hummed along with the very recognisable theme tune. Link here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmEnpK4nvBY

Our next story came from 'BBC News'. On 'Antiques Roadshow' last week, a fretless guitar formerly owned by Beatles John Lennon and George Harrison was valued at up to £400,000.

The owner, Ray, recorded sessions for a film company co-founded by Harrison, who asked him to play the guitar in the 1960s."I played a few notes and he said: 'Yeah, you're definitely getting more out of it than I am. It's doing better for you, why don't you have it'." Antiques Roadshow expert Jon Baddeley said: "What's really important is the provenance and there it was in the photograph - in George Harrison's collection. Wow, you can't do better than that." Valuing the guitar at between £300,000 and £400,000, he added: "I think in 25 years it's by far the most expensive thing I've ever seen."

It was time for our next song. We decided to sing along with 'Let It Be', by The Beatles. Here is a YouTube video link with lyrics - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSgUB8T8Zfw

Talking of The Beatles, 'The Guardian' gave us this great photo of Prince Harry, Bon Jovi and Invictus friends recreating the Abbey Road zebra crossing photograph. In one of his final engagements before stepping back as a working royal, Harry attended a re-recording of Bon Jovi’s song 'Unbroken', performed with the Invictus Games Choir to raise money for the international multi-sport event for injured or sick military personnel.

Members discussed how much we will miss Harry and what a loss he is to the Royal Family.

@BoredPanda gave us our next story. Boyan Slat, a 25-year-old Dutch inventor and entrepreneur, has been tackling the problem of ocean pollution since 2011. When he was 16 he went on a diving trip to Greece and was appalled to see more plastic than fish on the coast and swore to himself he was going to do something about it. Two years later he started 'The Ocean Cleanup' and created a passive solar powered floating device that collects plastic. But he didn’t stop here and recently created these solar-powered barges to fish the plastic out of the rivers and prevent it from getting into the oceans. The river-cleaning barges suck river debris and bring it onshore to be recycled.

We all agreed this was a tremendous invention and hoped he would be supported to roll this programme out internationally.

Statues of significant moments and characters from cinema have been unveiled in Leicester Square. Effigies of Paddington Bear, Mr Bean, Mary Poppins, Laurel and Hardy, and Bugs Bunny were some of those chosen to celebrate London's film industry. Hugh Bonneville, who played Mr Brown in the Paddington films, said they "add to the texture of the square".

Members looked at each of the pictures of the statues, linked here, and thought they were a great addition to the square and would be very much liked by tourists.


Next came a story from @AidiMac, recreated here as written:

"A 92 year lady old needed an engagement ring repair and magic happened. She smelled my workshop and had a flashback to Dublin 1933. I saw it happen in front of my eyes. She looked at me and said do you know Larry Gunning? I did. He trained my Master who trained me! Funny thing is, when I said I met him in the 80's (he would have been in his 90's) she never even blinked an eyelid. I nearly passed out! She's talking about his workshop in Fleet Street in 1933 and a guy that's long dead who is a legend for me. Magic!"

We discussed who has had similar coincidences in their lives. A couple of members had bumped into old friends in foreign parts totally out of the blue.

@BBCNews reported that The Royal Mint are offering a made to order an 18-carat gold hand-crafted piggy bank costing £100,000. Described as the "world's most expensive" porcine pocket money holder, it was designed by Bristol silversmiths Phillip Kydd and son James. The government-owned mint said it had had "expressions of interest" but no confirmed orders yet.

Members generally agreed that anyone buying one of these had more money than sense and asked what the point of collecting coins is when you are that rich?

It was time for some more @DadJokeMan ...

I tried to get into a trendy London nightclub last night. The doorman said to me, “Sorry mate, you've had too many”. I said, "What, drinks?" He said, "No, birthdays!"...

I was recently robbed by an Elvis impersonator. It left me all shook up...

I asked the hotel receptionist for a wake-up call this morning... She just rang me and asked: "What are you doing with your life?"

Terrible nights sleep! I lay awake worrying what it would be like if a pen leaked in my mouth... I dread tooth ink.

My friend claims that he “accidentally” glued himself to his autobiography, but I don’t believe it... However, that’s his story, and he’s sticking to it...

I have a new job transporting shallots on slow moving boats along canals. I’m an onion bargee...

How many dollars does it cost pirates to get their ears pierced? About a buccaneer...

How do you get 2 whales in a mini? Down the M4.

We next read 10 interesting facts about St David, including that he was a vegetarian teetotal who lived on a diet of mostly leeks and water. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-51649367?ns_source=twitter&ns_linkname=wales&ns_mchannel=social&ns_campaign=bbc_wales_news

Then we guessed at the meaning of these 10 Welsh words:

1. Cwtch

2. Dwt

3. Hwyl

4. Ych-a-fi

5. Gwdihŵ

6. Hiraeth

7. Twmffat

8. Wnco mwnco

9. Rhoi'r ffidil yn y tô

10. Ling di long

The answers are here - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/C2jRCn2zlNzRmxRwbZmCTH/10-welsh-words-that-will-warm-up-your-st-david-s-day?ns_campaign=bbc_radio_4&ns_mchannel=social&ns_source=twitter&ns_linkname=radio_and_music

We couldn't let the opportunity pass without singing our Welsh National Anthem. Here it is, with lyrics both in Welsh and English to assist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41BGsTsidwk

As March is now upon us and Spring has officially sprung, we reminded ourselves of 'The Beast From The East', which battered us two years ago. We haven't yet experienced any snow in Cardiff this year, though other places on higher ground have. And then there are the poor people still affected by the terrible flooding we have had, during this wettest February on record.

Thinking of brighter things, we went around the room and each said what we liked about the Spring. Answers included:

- Brighter mornings

- Longer days

- Warmer days

- Spring sunshine

- Spring flowers, especially daffodils

- New born lambs

- The clocks going forward on 21st March.

We finished with this story from @ITVWales, which was about a baby delivered on St David's Day on the hard shoulder of the A470. Genna Field's contractions began while at home in the early hours on Sunday so she phoned her mother to drive her and her partner to hospital. But the baby did not want to wait and they had to pull over on the A470 in Merthyr Tydfil, and grandmother Alison Field helped deliver her on the front passenger seat.

They called for an ambulance but police officers passing by stopped to help and drove them to hospital. "She came so quickly. It was quite frightening," said Ms Field, 33, who has two other children.

Members had their own stories to tell about their own children and where they were born.

We finished with another singalong. This time to 'Isn't She Lovely', by Stevie Wonder. Here is the YouTube link with lyrics - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVvkjuEAwgU

I hope you enjoy these 'Cariad Dementia Cafe' sessions. Please let me know if you find them useful in your own CST activities planning.