About Me

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

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


I've been keeping a weekly 'Young Dementia CST Blog' to share and archive our 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. 


My colleagues and I have been using these approaches regularly in our day to day work and have found them beneficial. The materials provided have been tried and tested, then refined to improve and further develop them for future use.


The main aim of this website is to share our 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.


Follow my Twitter feed for updates   @sIMon_deMEntia
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2018 Simon O'Donovan. Proudly created with Wix.com  2019


January 23, 2019



“I feel a sort of reverence in going over these scenes in this most beautiful country, which I am proud to call my own, where there was such devoted loyalty to the family of my ancestors – for Stuart blood is in my veins.” Queen Victoria, journal entry in 1873

'Burns Night' is annually celebrated in Scotland on or around January 25. It commemorates the life of the bard (poet) Robert Burns, who was born on January 25, 1759. The day also celebrates Burns' contribution to Scottish culture. His best known work is 'Auld Lang Syne'.

Ask members what they like about Scotland and Scottish people?
Has anyone visited or lived there?

What are the things that remind us of Scotland? Begin to make a list.





Andy Murray, UK singles tennis champion announced his semi-retirement from the sport at the Australian Open this week. He tearfully informed fans he needed hip surgery and doubted a return to professional tennis.

Ask who watches tennis and enjoys seeing Andy Murray play?
What is his mother's name? JUDY MURRAY (she appeared on last year's 'Strictly Come Dancing'.

Windsor Davies, Welsh actor, died this week aged 88 years. He was most famous for his role in the UK sitcom 'It Ain't Half Hot Mum' and had a massive hit single in 1975 with the song 'Whispering Grass', which he sang with Don Estelle.

Maybe play the song for members to sing along with.

Monday this week (21st January 2019) saw a full Blood Wolf Moon, which is observed during a total lunar eclipse. Many areas of the UK had clear skies to watch as the moon changed shape and colour.

Ask members if anyone got to see this?




Ask members if they have ever heard these saying, and ask them to take a guess at their meanings.

"Mony a mickle maks a muckle." - Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.

“Be happy while you’re living, for you’re a long time deid.” - Don't take life too seriously. Don't sweat the small stuff or waste time on things that make you unhappy, as life is too short.

“Time and tide for nae man bide.” - Even the rich and powerful cannot escape the laws of nature and everyone should take the opportunity to better themselves while they can.

"He that keeks through a keyhole may see what will vex him." - Those who eavesdrop may hear something they would rather not have. In other words, ignorance can be bliss.

“If ye like the nut, crack it.” - If you like the idea of a reward, then you must accept the effort involved to achieve it.

“The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn.” (David Russell, 1953-present) - Deciding the best course of action can often be the hardest part in life.

“To be kind to all, to like many and love a few, to be needed and wanted by those we love, is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness.” (Mary Queen Of Scots, 1542-87) - It's the simpler things in life we should appreciate.

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” (Sir Walter Scott, 1771 – 1832) - How complicated life becomes when people start lying to each other.

“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves. " (J.M. Barrie, 1860 – 1937) - What you reap you sow. When we make other people happy, we often find happiness ourselves.

"People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents." (Andrew Carnegie, 1835-1919) - Aim for the highest, do your best and you will be rewarded.


"A nod's as good as a wink tae a blind horse" - Explain yourself properly and make your meaning crystal clear
"Hock I the noo" - Oh yes, just now
"I'll gie ye a skelpit lug!" - I'll give you a slap on the ear
"Whit's fur ye'll no go by ye!" - What's meant to happen will happen
"Skinny Malinky Longlegs!" - A tall thin person
"Lang may yer lum reek!" - May you live long and stay well
"Speak o' the Devil!" - When you talk about someone they usually appear
"Black as the Earl of Hell's waistcoat" - Pitch black
"Failing means yer playin!" - At least you are trying
"Keep the heid!" - Stay calm, don't get upset
"We're a' Jock Tamson's bairns!" - We're all God's children
"Dinnae teach yer Granny tae suck eggs!" - Don't try and teach someone something they already know
"Is the cat deid?" - Your trousers are short, like a mast flying at half mast
"The baw's on the slates" - Game over. If the ball landed on the roof, the game of football is over
"Noo jist haud on!" - Now just hold on, slow down. Take your time
"Hell slap it intae ye!" - It's your own fault
"I'm fair plucked" - I'm short of breath
"Do yer dinger" - Loudly express disapproval
"Gie it laidly" - Do something with gusto
"Ah dinnae ken" - I don't know
"Haste Ye Back!" - Farewell, come back soon
"It's a dreich day" - Days that are dull and drab
"Blether" - Chat away
"Haud yer wheesht" - Shut up
"Scran" - Food
"Aye right" - An expression of disbelief
"Reeking" - Intoxicated
"Rank" - Disgusting
"Munter" - A not so beautiful person
"At dis ma nut it" - That annoys me
"Yer bum's oot the windae" - You're talking rubbish
"Am pure done in" - Feeling very tired
"Ma heid's mine!" - I'm a bit mixed up about things
"Yer oot yer face!" - You're very drunk




Print out some pictures of famous Scottish faces, landmarks and cultural emblems to help the following quiz flow. As a name or thing is mentioned, ask members to hold up the relevant picture.


What is the flag of Scotland called? THE SALTIRE OR ST ANDREW’S CROSS (White x-shaped cross on a navy blue background)
What is the national flower of Scotland? THISTLE
When is Scotland’s official national day? ST ANDREW’S DAY, HELD ON 30TH NOVEMBER
What is the Queen’s main Scottish residence? BALMORAL
What is the name of the thoroughfare which runs between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace? THE ROYAL MILE


What is Scotland’s longest river? THE TAY (120 MILES)
And it's highest mountain? BEN NEVIS - ELEVATION 4413FT (HIGHEST IN BRITISH ISLES )
Which body of water in Scotland contains more water than all the English and Welsh lakes put together? LOCH LOMOND
TRUE OR FALSE. Hadrian's Wall lies entirely within England and has never formed the Anglo-Scottish border? TRUE
Which Scottish town is famous as a venue for runaway marriages? GRETNA GREEN
What is a Scottish church called? A KIRK
Where is the leading Scottish tourist attraction Royal Yacht Britannia docked? EDINBURGH
A nautical exploration ship recently had to be renamed ‘The Sir David Attenborough’. What did the public originally vote to call it? BOATY MCBOATFACE
Where is the terminus of the East Coast main railway line? EDINBURGH WAVERLEY STATION
What was the first steam engine to pass the 100 miles per hour speed barrier on 30th November 1934? THE FLYING SCOTSMAN


What patterned fabric is a kilt made out of? TARTAN
What is the name of the Pouch worn in front of a kilt? A SPORRAN
Where would you find a chanter and a drone? ON A SET OF BAGPIPES (Who likes the sound of Bagpipes playing? We have some in the music round later!)
What is the annual Scottish comedy festival called? THE EDINBURGH FRINGE
When was the first recorded sighting of the fabled Loch Ness Monster (nearest guess)? The EARLIEST RECORDED SIGHTING WAS 22ND AUGUST 565 AD when it was written that a type of sea creature had attempted to gulp down a local farmer, before being banished back into the water by St Columba - the man responsible for introducing Christianity to Scotland
(Is anyone a believer?)
What percentage of Scottish people have ginger hair? 13%

Food and drink

What Scottish foodstuff did Robert Burns address as the Great Chieftain o’ the puddin’ race? HAGGIS
What are the ingredients of a haggis? SHEEPS 'PLUCK' (heart, liver and lungs), ground with ONION, OATMEAL, SUET, SPICES & SALT, mixed with stock, and traditionally encased in the animals stomach and boiled
What is haggis traditionally served with? NEEPS (swede) & TATTIES (potatoes), with a dram of single malt whisky
Scott’s Porridge Oats, first produced 120 years ago by brothers A& R Scott, was taken over by which company in 1982? QUAKERS
What are some of the top selling brands of Scotch Whisky? JOHNNY WALKER, BALLANTINES, GRANTS, CHIVAS REGAL, J&B, BELLS, DEWARS (Does anyone enjoy a tipple?)
For those who prefer a low alcohol or soft drink, what is the leading brand of Scottish Ginger Beer? CRABBIES
What Scottish drink has recently changed it's recipe, much to the discontent of people who drink it? IRN BRU
What does the Scottish word Sláinte mean? CHEERS ( literally ‘Health’ or ‘Good health’)

Famous people in history

What did Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) discover? PENICILLIN
What did John Logie Baird (1888-1946) invent? TELEVISION
What was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle famous for? WRITING SHERLOCK HOLMES DETECTIVE STORIES
What did Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) invent? TELEPHONE
Which Scottish author wrote 'Kidnapped' and 'Treasure Island'? ROBERT LOUIS STEPHENSON


Where is the Scottish Parliament located? HOLYROOD
Who is the First Minister? NICOLA STURGEON
Who was the first First Minister? DONALD DEWAR (17TH MAY 1999-11th OCTOBER 2000)
Which Scottish Labour politician was UK Prime Minister from June 2007-May 2010? GORDON BROWN

TV and film

Who was the Scottish schoolteacher created by Muriel Spark? MISS JEAN BRODIE (PLAYED BY MAGGIE SMITH IN THE 1969 FILM 'THE PRIME OF...')
Which ‘Dad’s Army’ character used to say, “We're all doomed?” PRIVATE FRAZIER
Who was the Scottish chef in the TV soap ‘Crossroads’? SHUGHIE MCFEE
Which Scottish TV personality was one of the original presenters of GMTV, starting in 1993? LORRAINE KELLY
Who starred as the medieval Scottish patriot William Wallace in the 1995 film 'Braveheart'? MEL GIBSON
What film about drug taking culture in Edinburgh released in 1996 starred Ewan McGregor? TRAINSPOTTING
Which TV actor starred in the comedy mystery-drama Hamish Macbeth? ROBERT CARLYLE. (He also starred in the 1997 film ‘The Full Monty'.)
What was the first British television reality programme, featuring Ben Fogle and filmed on the Island of Taransay in The Outer Hebrides called? CASTAWAY
Who played ‘The Queen’ in the 2006 film of the same name? HELEN MIRREN
What is the comedian Billy Connolly's nickname? THE BIG YIN
What breed of dog was Lassie? ROUGH COLLIE
Who starred in the role of 'Dr Kildare' in the TV drama series of the same name? RICHARD CHAMBERLAIN
Who starred as Mr Hudson in the TV drama series 'Upstairs Downstairs'? GORDON JACKSON


Which Highland Game involves throwing a tree trunk as far as you can? TOSSING THE CABER
Who is the most capped Scottish footballer of all time? KENNY DALGLISH
Which Scottish sportsman won the 'BBC Personality Of The Year Award' in 2013, 2015 & 2016? ANDY MURRAY
Which Scottish cyclist won six Olympic Games gold medals in his magnificent career, which ended in 2013 when he retired? CHRIS HOY
Which football team did Sir Alex Ferguson manage from 1986-2013? MANCHESTER UNITED





Playlist link here https://open.spotify.com/user/1154769589/playlist/32NeNP3RaNBOEf2vBCf4gX?si=u13GXeDWS8WUN8MuF1VfHg

Donald Where's Yer Troosers? - Andy Stewart
What do men in Scotland wear under their kilt? NOTHING!
Have a vote. Which men in the room would brave it?

I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) - The Proclaimers
How far is it from Lands End to John O Groats (nearest guess)? 874 MILES BY ROAD

Love Is All Around - Wet Wet Wet
What item of clothing for the inclement weather was designed in Scotland? MACKINTOSH (first sold in 1824)
Which American company makes the Macintosh computer? APPLE

Why? - Annie Lennox
What group was Annie Lennox in with Dave Stewart? THE EURYTHMICS

Don’t Talk To Me About Love - Altered Images
Which 1981 film did lead singer Clare Grogan star in alongside Gordon Sinclair? GREGORY'S GIRL

Smalltown Boy - Bronski Beat
Which TV reverend previously formed The Communards with Jimmy Somerville? REV RICHARD COLES (recently appeared in BBC’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing’; also anchor of BBC Radio 4 ‘Saturday Live’)

Vienna - Ultravox
Which country is Vienna the capital city of? AUSTRIA
What was the name of the lead singer? MIDGE URE

The Whole Of The Moon - The Waterboys
What celestial event occurred this week on Sunday night/Monday morning? A BLOOD WOLF MOON (TOTAL ECLIPSE)

Maggie May - Rod Stewart
What age is Rod Stewart (nearest guess)? 76 - BORN 10TH JANUARY 1943

Morning Train - Sheena Easton
What James Bond film did Sheena Easton sing the title song for? FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

To Sir With Love - Lulu
Who starred in the 1967 film with Lulu? SIDNEY POITIER

I Dreamed A Dream - Susan Boyle
Who beat Susan Boyle in the final of the 2009 ‘Britain's Got Talent’? DIVERSITY

Ma, He's Making Eyes At Me - Lena Zavaroni
What year did Lena Zavaroni win Opportunity Knocks? 1974
How old was she? TEN

Shang A Lang - Bay City Rollers
The Bay City Rollers were 'The Tartan Teen sensations' from where? EDINBURGH

If It Was Nae For Your Wellies - Billy Connolly

Mull Of Kintyre - Wings
What year was this song Christmas number 1? 1977
Linda McCartney products are still available. What are they? VEGETARIAN MEAT SUBSTITUTE FOODS

The Bonnie Bonnie Banks Of Loch Lomond - Ina Miller
What is the national 'animal' of Scotland (appears on many flags, badges etc)? UNICORN

The Skye Boat Song - Ina Miller
Which group of islands is Skye the largest of? THE INNER HEBRIDES

Scotland The Brave - The Scottish Highlands Pipes
What are bagpipes made from?
Classic European bagpipes are made from the SKIN OF A SMALL GOAT OR SHEEP, with the natural openings in the skin for the legs being used to attach the pipes.

Flower Of Scotland - The First Fifteen Choir
Where do Scotland Rugby Union play their home games? MURRAYFIELD

Amazing Grace - Isla StClair
What programme did Isla StClair host with Larry Grayson? THE GENERATION GAME

Auld Lang Syne - Andy Stewart
Who wrote the poem Auld Lang Syne? RABBIE BURNS

Finally, listen to Rabbie Burns 'Address To A Haggis'. If anyone is brave enough to have a taster round (you can also get vegan haggis!), now would be a good time.

'Gay Gordons' bagpipes music follows...




Perhaps one of the group's facilitators could demonstrate the Highland Fling?

Using coloured pens and white card, ask members to create their own special new tartan pattern. Maybe vote for the best one.

Print outline images of thistles, highland deer and red squirrel for members to colour in.

Make Loch Ness Monsters out of modelling clay.

Make some shortbread. Recipe from BBC GOOD FOOD:

300g Plain Flour
200g Softened Butter
100g Granulated Sugar
1tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat an oven to 160'C, 325'F or gas mark 3.
Then line a baking tray with baking paper and grease using butter.
Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until pale, light and fluffy.
Sift the flour into the bowl, add your vanilla extract.
Mix well until the ingredients form a dough.
Roll out the dough on a smooth surface to a thickness of 2 mm.
Cut out 10-15 shapes using biscuit cutters.
Put the cut out shapes on your prepared baking tray, leave them in a fridge to chill for 20 mins.
Take the tray out the fridge and bake in oven for 15-20 mins, or until golden brown.
When ready leave to chill on tray for 20 mins. Enjoy the shortbread!


Ginger Beer or Irn Bru tasting, maybe with home made (or brought) Scottish shortbread.




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