My name is Colin Boston, I’m a 36 year old entrepreneur from Southport with an amazing wife, Ashleigh. We have a cheeky three year old, Joey and our beloved dog and horse, Dolly and Bozzy. For those wondering which costs the most to keep, it’s the horse. By some distance. Probably a furlong or two. My wife used her love for horses to help me when I was first diagnosed with anxiety and depression around 9 years ago – spending time with those gentle giants was my head medicine, something I’d highly recommend. My wife is without doubt the reason I’m here today, so as a thank you to an eternal debt I owe her – I bought her first ever horse which gives her the mental strength to support us all. Everyone’s a winner, apart from our bank balance.
My story isn’t actually about horses, anxiety or depression but another mental illness. It’s about my dad Dave, who was diagnosed with vascular dementia just two years ago. Dad has worked his whole life (since he was 13) as a self employed locksmith. He was a season ticket holder with Burnley FC for over 30 years, following the Clarets home and away. He was the captain of our snooker team which was a great social activity during the week when practicing and for match nights, something I loved doing with him. When he picked me to play of course, there were some quiet drives home when I was overlooked. Poor captaincy if you ask me.
My dad hasn’t had the healthiest journey to his free bus pass, with two heart attacks, several stroke’s and a quadruple heart bypass operation to name but a few of his health scares. However, back in 2020 it was obvious something else wasn’t quite right. His speed in everything had slowed down dramatically. He had terrible shakes whilst eating, he couldn’t stay awake, his memory was all of a sudden terribly poor and he would get very confused on days. As quick as these symptoms arrived, he started falling regularly and overnight looked like he had turned into a 90 year old man – which was so sad to see.
My dad was diagnosed with vascular dementia and the plan of retiring in the sunshine with my mum was shot down in flames. My parents have always been thrifty and knew the value of money, so when it came to their retirement, they were comfortable and could enjoy it as they saw fit. Today’s reality is my parents have never been on holiday since my dad retired and never will due to his dementia. He needs care around the clock and my mum Margaret, all 4’11 and 6 stone of her is now his full time carer at the age of 73. She is the most incredible mum, wife and grandma and we’re beyond fortunate to have her. She’s the kindest and most selfless person you’d be lucky enough to meet – we used to visit care homes around Southport with my dog Dolly so the residents could pet her and spend some time reminiscing about their beloved pets from the past. It’s clear the emotional part of our brains has a power like no other.
Whilst working online I stumbled across a new app called “Music for my mind” via the LinkedIn page of legendary music manager (Robbie Williams), Tim Clark. As the founder of my own music platform, Our Song Request I was interested to see what this was, especially with the link to dementia and our family’s new situation. I clicked their link and played the video on the homepage, a video so powerful it brought me to tears. Which is no mean feat after taking daily anti-depressants for nearly a decade. I would please urge everyone to watch the video above. This pulled on my heart strings so much I had to contact Tim directly and offer any help I could for the charity, I was immediately all in. The same day I bought an Alexa, filled out some of my dad’s details on their website and set up the Alexa next to his chair.
It’s hard to put into words the effect listening to music he adored from dad’s teenage years had on him. It was like the music flicked a switch which gave him purpose again, purpose to tell me his stories from before I was born about the years of going to concerts and trivia about band’s and their members from decades ago.
I recently recorded a video of him and asked him some questions about the music he was listening to. The way he started to interact and answer my questions from over 50 years ago blew me away. This is the same man who would forget almost everything and just sit staring into thin air before nodding off, day in and out. I uploaded the video to LinkedIn and within a few days it had gone viral, generating hundreds of comments from people all over the world who had experienced the same magic with music and their relatives.
My company’s tag-line is “Give the gift of music”, and without a doubt music is a gift. It’s a gift which doesn’t stop giving, no matter how old it is or how, where or when it’s listened to. The knock-on effect it has on our other senses and brain activity is unquestionable. We will prove this is a way which has never been done before. So hopefully this won’t be the last you hear from me!
We will be fighting not just Dementia, but all other associated mental illnesses and loneliness head on, using innovative technology to bring our ageing community along for the ride and not leaving them behind. We wouldn’t be here without them and fortunately this debt can be repaid without a hint of hey or smell of a stable!