Donor helps bring Christmas cheer

Ron Turner, Malcolm Joyce, Gillian Grady and her mother Lilian McNulty and Joe Waller.
Ron Turner, Malcolm Joyce, Gillian Grady and her mother Lilian McNulty and Joe Waller.

A generous donor got into the festive spirit during a special therapy session.

Malcolm Joyce hit the headlines in September after donating £1million to the Alzheimer’s Society.

And as part of his close links with the charity, the retired dentist joined in a Christmas-themed Singing for the Brain group in North Shields.

Malcolm, 81 of Tynemouth, said: “There’s a wonderful atmosphere at Singing for the Brain…you feel you are breathing in happiness.”

Singing for the Brain uses music and movement to stimulate memories for people living with dementia.

The North Shields group meets every Monday at St Columba’s Church Hall between 1.30pm and 3pm.

Malcolm attended with friend Ron Turner, 88, who he met several years ago at similar sessions held at Linskill School, North Shields.

He said: “I used to go with my wife Jean, and Ron would accompany his wife Jane. We just sort of hit it off and became friends, and we’ve remained friends ever since.”

Jean passed away in 2015 after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2008.

Ron’s wife Jane, who also has dementia, is now in a care home in Forest Hall.

Ron said: “It has been wonderful to be part of this week’s Christmas party. The atmosphere has been fantastic.”

After his wife of 58 years passed away, Malcolm intended to leave money to the Alzheimer’s Society in his will.

But after waking up one morning, decided to give it to the charity straight away and made the phone call.

The money will support vital work at two Doctoral Training Centres in Bradford and Southampton, among eight such centres of excellence set up by the charity last year to address an urgent need for research into the diagnosis, care and treatment of the condition.

And it will help to fund a range of services in the North East for people living with dementia and their carers over the coming three years.

Alzheimer’s Society Volunteering Office Fiona Swindell said: “It was wonderful to see Malcolm at our Christmas party.

“He made the biggest individual donation in the charity’s history and for that we cannot thank him enough.

“But it’s also heart-warming to see that he hasn’t simply handed over a cheque and walked away. He’s keen to maintain contact with the charity.

“His presence here today demonstrates that he truly believes in what we are doing and feels we can make a difference to the lives of people with dementia.”