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

International Day Of Happiness - 20th March

March 20, 2019



"I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it."

Groucho Marx

"Share your smile with the world. It's a symbol of friendship and peace."

Christie Brinkley




This week’s CST activities page focuses on Happiness for two reasons. Firstly, it was ‘International Day Of Happiness’ on Wednesday 20th March and secondly, it was ‘Comic Relief’, or ‘Red Nose Day’ on Friday 15th March.

The ‘Comic Relief’ TV telethon raised over £63m on the night, compared to an all time high of £78m for the 2015 show. The reasons for the reduction were blamed on austerity and comments made by David Lammy MP, who had criticised the fundraising efforts for African charities, saying “The world doesn’t need any more white saviours!” Film coverage of celebrity visits to African orphanages were subsequently scrapped from the show.

Highlights of the night included a ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ show, an update on characters from ‘Four Weddings And A Funeral’ and a Jennifer Saunders led mickey take of ‘Mamma Mia 2’.

In total ‘Comic Relief’ has raised over £1bn since the charity was founded by Richard Curtis and Jane Tewson 30 years ago, which is pretty impressive to say the least. UK charities have also benefited, including those for homelessness and disability groups.

Another source of happiness (for some) this week was Wales winning the Grand Slam in the 2018 ‘Guinness Six Nations Rugby Union Championship’ on Saturday 16th March. It was Warren Gatland’s last season as coach and Alun Wyn Jones, Wales Captain, lifted the trophy in celebration after their win against Ireland, 25-7. The game was Alun Wyn Jones' 134th Test for Wales and the Lions, but it was Gareth Anscombe who was named ‘Man Of The Match’. Alun Wyn Jones was later named 'Man Of The Championship', as celebrations outside the Welsh Sennydd commenced. 

In other news this week, sadly we heard of a mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, where 50 people were murdered as they prayed in two local mosques. The white supremacist terrorist was caught and charged, as world leaders sent messages of support. New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern spoke passionately about the multicultural nature of Christchurch and the invaluable contribution made by immigrants to NZ society. The BBC had some good advice for children distressed by the news, which equally applied to adults.

- Share your worries
- It’s normal to feel upset
- Do things that make you happy
- Remember, these events are rare.

Also we heard of the terrible Cyclone Idai which had hit Mozambique. The death toll is as yet unknown, but the news reported vast areas of devastation and flooding. An emergency fundraising appeal has been launched by the Disasters Emergency Committee. 

On a slightly happier note, the worlds most expensive cities to live in were named by ‘The Economist’ this week. Ask members to guess what they were.

According to the survey, the priciest places to live in, based on cost of food, rent and even haircuts, were jointly Paris, Singapore and Hong Kong. Has anyone visited these places, or would they like to?





By way of introduction, we asked members to answer these questions:

- What makes you happy?

- Who makes you laugh?


- When is the last time you had a really good belly laugh?


Ask members to complete these phrases about happiness.

Laughter is the best - MEDICINE
Laugh and the world laughs - WITH YOU (Weep and you weep - ALONE)
Burst out - LAUGHING
All the fun of the - FAIR
Beyond a - JOKE
Doubled up with - LAUGHTER
Fun and - GAMES
Funny haha or funny - PECULIAR
Girls just wanna have - FUN
Good for a - LAUGH
Grin from ear to - EAR
Laugh something - OFF
Wipe that smile off your - FACE
I didn’t know whether to laugh or - CRY
Not exactly a laugh a - MINUTE
He who laughs last laughs - LONGEST
Fall about - LAUGHING
Laugh yourself - SILLY
Laugh all the way to the - BANK
Smiling like a Cheshire - CAT
Laugh? I nearly - PAID THE GAS BILL etc
Be full of the joys of - SPRING
Jump for - JOY
On cloud - NINE
Like a dog with two - TAILS
Happy go - LUCKY
Happy as - LARRY
Having a whale - OF A TIME
On top of the - WORLD
Over the - MOON
In seventh - HEAVEN
Walking on - AIR / SUNSHINE
Are you having a - LAUGH
A laugh a - MINUTE
Laughed out of - COURT
Laugh like a - DRAIN
It's no laughing - MATTER
The life and soul of a - PARTY
A friend in need is a friend - INDEED

LOL = Laugh out loud

ROFL = Roll on the floor laughing

Note to subscribers:

This is just a reminder that the activities provided in this blog are only intended as a guide and not a blueprint.

Feel free to use some or all of the materials and to add to them as you see fit or your group wishes.

The suggestions here are to prompt recall and promote discussion through reminiscence, but more importantly they are intended to provide enjoyment and support inclusion and engagement, thereby positively impacting quality of life.

You may need to adjust or reduce content according to the time you have available, the cognitive abilities of your members and their communication needs.

Please let me know what works and doesn't. I'd love to hear any ideas you have for additional content or new activities.





Next, we looked at some photos of UK comedians and remembered their best jokes and catchphrases. This was also a facial recognition task. Please click on the link above to be taken to the slideshow. (Print the colour photos for the tables.)

Kenny Everett

Catchphrase (one of many) - "It's all done in the best possible taste."

Characters - Sid Snot, Gizzard Puke, Captain Kremmen and Cupid Stunt

Dance troupe - Hot Gossip

Ken Dodd

Little helpers - The Diddy Men from Notty Ash

Hit single - ‘Happiness’

Some of his best jokes -

“Honolulu has got everything. Sand for the children, sun for the wife, sharks for the wife’s mother…”

“My Dad always knew I was going to be a comedian. When I was a baby he said, ‘Is this a joke?'”

“I have kleptomania. But when it gets bad, I take something for it.”

“I used to think I was marvellous in bed – until I discovered all my girlfriends suffered from asthma.”

Victoria Wood

Soap parody within her sketch show - 'Acorn Antiques' (parody of 'Crossroads')


(Does anyone remember the 'Two Soups' sketch with Julie Walters?)

Song - 'Ballad Freda and Barry'

TV shows - 'As Seen On TV', 'Pat And Margaret' & 'Dinnerladies'

Charlie Chaplin

Persona most associated with - Tramp with walking stick

His dog - A Jack Russell


Most famous silent movie - 'The Great Dictator', 1940

French and Saunders

First names - Dawn and Jennifer

(Married to who - Lenny Henry - used to be - and Ade Edmonson - still)

Separate TV hit shows - 'Vicar Of Dibley' & 'Absolutely Fabulous'


In 'Ab Fab' Patsy Stone was played by - Joanna Lumley

Laurel and Hardy

First names - Stan and Oliver

Catchphrase - "That's another fine mess you got me into!"

Hit movie - 'Way Out West', 1937

Song from the movie - 'Blue Ridge Mountains Of Virginia'

The Two Ronnies

Surnames - Barker and Corbett

Catchphrase - "It's goodnight from me and it's goodnight from him."

Separate hit TV shows - 'Porridge' & 'Sorry'


In 'Porridge' Ronnie Barker's character was named - Norman Stanley Fletcher

Morecombe and Wise

First names - Eric and Ernie

Hit single/theme - 'Bring Me Sunshine'

Can anyone do their closing skip?


What did Eric keep doing to Ernie? - Slapping his cheeks

Tommy Cooper

Catchphrase - "Just like that!"

Some of his best jokes -

"Caerphilly is the healthiest place in the country. When I first arrived there I couldn’t say a word. I didn’t have a single hair on my head and I didn’t have the strength to walk across the room. How long was I there? I was born there."

"I sleep like a baby. Every morning I wake up screaming around 2 o’clock."

"Show me a man who lost all his money and can still laugh and I’ll show you an idiot."

"My wife had a bad habit of biting her nails but I cured her. I hid her teeth."

"My wife dislocated her jaw and couldn’t talk so I phoned the doctor and told him to drop round anytime, in a few weeks or a few months."

Les Dawson

Famous for his - Bad piano playing

Who did he play Kitty and Ada with - Roy Barroclough

Some of his best jokes -

"I got home last night, the wife was in the kitchen. I knew she was getting my tea ready – I could hear the fire extinguisher going."

"I’ve had some bad news about the wife’s wealthy uncle who’s ill in hospital. He’s recovering. I went to see him last week. I said: “Is there anything I can do for you?” He said: “Only one thing. Take your foot off the oxygen tube.”"

"I call my wife "Treasure". She reminds me of something that’s just been dug up."

Cannon and Ball

First names - Tommy and Bobby

Catchphrase - "Rock on Tommy!"


Bobby Ball wore - Red braces

Billy Connelly

Nickname - The Big Yin

Married to - Pamela Stephenson

Hit single - 'D.I.V.O.R.C.E.'


Sadly diagnosed with - Parkinson's disease and is now a champion for the Society

'Monty Python's Flying Circus'

Members - John Cheese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones

TV show opening - "... And now for something completely different!"

Hit films - 'Life Of Brian', 'Holy Grail', 'The Meaning Of Life'

Frankie Howerd

Hit TV series - 'Up Pompeii'

Catchphrase - "Titter ye not."

Rowan Atkinson

TV shows -'Blackadder', 'Mr Bean' and 'Not The Nine O'clock News'

With - Pamela Stephenson, Mel Smith and Grif Rhys Jones


Blackadder's sidekick was ' Baldric, played by Tony Robinson 

Lenny Henry

Children's TV show - 'Tiswas'...

With - Sally James and Chris Tarrant

Most famous character - Theopolis T Wildebeest

Peter Cook and Dudley Moore

TV show - 'Not Only But Also'


Dudley Moore starred in which 1981 movie? - 'Arthur'

'The Goon Show'

Starred - Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe, Peter Sellers and Michael Bentine

Spike Milligan's hit song - 'The Yin Tong Song'

Marx Brothers

The deaf and dumb brother - Harpo

The others - Groucho, Chico, Zeppo

Most famous films - 'Duck Soup', 'Day At The Races' and 'A Night At The Opera'

Benny Hill

Hit single - 'Ernie'

The name of the girls he chased - 'Hills Angels'

Remember him slapping the head of his bald sidekick?

Ricky Gervais

Most famous TV series - 'The Office', ‘Derek’ & ‘Afterlife’

‘The Office’ was set in - Slough

Caroline Aherne

Most famous TV shows - 'The Royale Family' & 'Mrs Merton'

Jim and Barbara Royale - Ricky Tomlinson and Sue Johnston (previously starred in 'Brookside')

David Walliams and Matt Lucas

Most successful TV series - 'Little Britain'

David Walliams swam the Thames and the English Channel to raise money for - Sport Relief

Jo Brand

Career before comedian - Mental Health Nurse


Wrote and starred in a TV series about nursing called - 'Getting On'

'The Young Ones'

Who were they? - Rik Mayall, Ade Edmonson and Nigel Planer

Hit singles - ‘Hole In My Shoe’ & 'Living Doll' (with Cliff Richard)


Who was their landlord played by? - Alexi Sayle 

David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst

Hit TV show - 'Only Fools And Horses'

Catchphrase - "Rodney, you plonker!"

Went on to star in - 'A Touch Of Frost' (David Jason) and 'Goodnight Sweetheart' (Nicholas Lyndhurst)

Dick Emery


'The Dick Emery TV Show' ran from - 1963-1981

Catchphrase - "Oh you are awful, but I like you!"

Patricia Routledge

Hyacinth Bucket - 'Keeping Up Appearances'

Catchphrase - "The Bou-quet residence! The lady of the house speaking!"

Richard Wilson

Victor Meldrew - 'One Foot In The Grave'

Catchphrase - "I don't believe it!"

Who played his wife Margaret? - Annette Crosbie 


Michael Crawford

Frank Spencer - 'Some Mothers Do Av' 'Em'

Catchphrase - "Oo Betty!"

Starred alongside - Michelle Dotrice


Michael Crawford played which character for the first time in a West End musical? - The Phantom in 'Phantom Of The Opera' in 1981

Leonard Rossiter

Mr Rigsby - 'Rising Damp'

Starred alongside - Frances de la Tour (playing Miss Jones)

Also starred in ‘The Rise And Fall Of Reginald Perrin’.

He always imagined his mother in law as - A hippopotamus.

Miranda Hart

Starred in her own series - ‘Miranda’

Catchphrase - “Such fun!”


Her mother was played by - Patricia Hodge

Does anyone remember the Sushi Conveyor belt sketch.

Comedians/TV comedy characters missing from the list who you rate?



 (We printed off the photos of comedians and made the collage above. Then working through the catchphrases etc, asked members to identify and name them.)

If you have time, here is a YouTube Playlist of some top UK comedy clips to look at with the group.


Morecombe And Wise - Breakfast sketch

Mr. Bean - High dive

Only Fools And Horses - Chandelier

Monty Python - Lumberjack song

The Two Ronnies - Four candles

Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em - Rollerskating

Victoria Wood - The Ballad of Barry and Freda

Dad’s Army - Don’t tell him Pike

Only Fools And Horses - Del falls through the bar

Laurel And Hardy - Blockheads

Fawlty Towers - Room with a view

The Two Ronnies - Mastermind

Tommy Cooper - The duck trick

Monty Python - Dead parrot

Billy Connolly - D.I.V.OR.C.E.

The Royale Family - Breast implants

The Office - David Brent dance

Gavin And Stacey - Where’s the salad?

The Young Ones - Living Doll

Tony Christie - Is This The Way To Amarillo

Dawn French - Puddle sketch

There are likely many more clips that could be added. Please let me know any good ones that you feel are missing from this YouTube playlist.



Spotify Playlist link here -


Happiness - Ken Dodd

What did Ken Dodd used to carry with him during his comedy performances?


Is anyone in the group ticklish?

Get Happy - Judy Garland

How old was Judy Garland when ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ was released in November 1939?

17 - SHE WAS BORN 10TH JUNE 1922

It is said that her diet whilst filming was chicken soup, coffee and 80 cigarettes a day. Also she and other actors were prescribed amphetamines.

Happy Talk - South Pacific

Which artist had a hit with a cover of this song in 1982?


Are You Lonesome Tonight - Elvis Presley

What made Elvis crack up during this recording of his hit record?


Happy Together - The Turtles

Go around the room and ask members who their best friend is.

Don’t Worry Be Happy - Bobby McFerrin

Have members sing or hum along with the chorus, making as much noise as they can.

Make Someone Happy - Jimmy Durante

What 1993 film starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan featured this song?


Oh Happy Day - The Edwin Hawkins Singers

This Gospel song features in the ‘Sister Act’ series of films. Who starred in those?


(Have members clap along with the second verse.)

When You’re Smiling - Louis Armstrong

What do cameramen say when they take a group photograph to make people smile?


With permission of capacitated individuals or family members, you could take a group photograph to show members a photograph of them with their best smile. Also this helps reinforce the group ethos. (But don’t do this if anyone objects, or prefers not to be photographed.)

Bring Me Sunshine - Morecombe And Wise

What were their Christian names?


Can anyone do the closing credits skip/dance?

The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine - Laurel And Hardy

What 1937 Laurel And Hardy film featured this song?


Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life - Monty Python

Thinking of the ‘What have the Romans ever given us’ sketch in ‘The Life Of Brian’, can anyone guess at what benefits were listed?



(Ask members to whistle along with the chorus)

Right Said Fred - Bernard Cribbins

Who led the 1980s group named after this song?


Mr Brother - Terry Scott

Terry Scott went on to star in the hit TV comedy show ‘Terry And June’ with which co-star?


The Funky Gibbon - The Goodies

Name the three members of ‘The Goodies’?


(Does anyone remember the cat climbing up the Post Office Tower sketch?)

Whispering Grass - Windsor Davies and Don Estelle

What 1970s TV comedy series did Windsor Davies and Don Estelle star in?


(At the end of each show Windsor Davies would shout? - SHUT UP!)

The Laughing Policeman - Charles Penrose

Some say laughter is infectious, others say it is the best medicine. The fact of the matter is laughing releases endorphins - the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, and reduces stress hormones. So in fact it is one of the best medicines.

Try and get the group to laugh along with the chorus and see if the forced laughter turns into real laughter.

Que Sera Sera - Doris Day

Who did Doris Day co-star with in many 1950s and 60s romantic comedies, including ‘Pillow Talk’, ‘Lover Come Back’ and ‘Send Me No Flowers’?


A Hole In My Bucket - Harry Belafonte and Odetta

Listen carefully. Who asked for the water to be fetched and who was to fetch it?


There Was An Old Lady - Burl Ives

How many animals/creatures are named in this song?


I'll Be There For You - The Rembrants

Name the characters and actors of ‘Friends’?


(The coffee shop was ‘Central Perk’.)

Thank You Very Much - The Scaffold

Go around the room and ask members what they are most thankful for?

If this seems inappropriate or too difficult, ask members to name the biscuits mentioned in the song?


Top Of The World - The Carpenters

What were the names of this sister and brother act?


Tears Of A Clown - Smokey Robinson

Apart from Clowns, what other acts might you find in a circus?


Ernie - Benny Hill

Does anyone remember having their milk delivered?
What was the vehicle called? - MILK FLOAT

(The birds would always peck at the gold top full cream milk.)

Hello Muddah Hello Fadduh - Allen Sherman

Does anyone like camping?

(Does anyone remember the Barbara Windsor ‘Exercise Sketch’ in ‘Carry On Camping’?)

Make Me Smile - Cockney Rebel

This might be difficult, but as a facilitator your task is to make every member smile. Be open about this, it’s just for fun.

Give them the best compliment you can ...
Wink at them ...
Do a comedy walk ...
Tell a joke ...
Shake their hand ...
Give them a hug ...

Happy Shiny People - R.E.M.


Ask members to stand in a circle and hold hands.

Then do their best 'Whoop', starting with hands low and voices as low as they can go, raising their hands and voices until they are high in the air.

The giving themselves a round of applause. 




One of the facilitators of the group could be asked to volunteer to be made up to look like a clown? Have some face paints, a comedy wig and a colourful t-shirt on standby for this activity.

(Have red noses for members to wear.)


Alternatively buy some long balloons to blow up and make shapes out of. There are several YouTube clips which can be used as a guide.

We also have used, with great success, a rainbow coloured parachute, large enough for everyone to hold, with a balloon or ball in he centre. Rolling it to each member, getting it to touch the ceiling, and doing some exercises through movement whilst using it, e.g. bend your knees, stretch your arms, stand on one leg etc. It’s usually a source of great mirth.


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