Talented Essex schoolboy Harry Gardner whose moving single made it to number one in the iTunes Singer/Songwriter chart has been recognised for his fundraising efforts by Alzheimer’s Research UK.
The 16-year-old penned ‘Not Alone – Song for Alzheimer’s’ in honour of his 76-year-old nan Maureen McGuinness who is living with dementia, after she failed to recognise him for the first time.
The song reached number 39 in the iTunes songs chart, among tracks by artists such as James Bay, Ed Sheeran and Adele, and Harry’s music video has hit nearly 240,000 views on YouTube.
The UK’s leading dementia research charity has now made Harry a Champion in recognition of his support, meaning he joins a small but growing group of exceptional supporters around the UK who go above and beyond to help dementia research.
More than 1,700 people have downloaded the track, and in total Harry has raised more than £8,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK through both music downloads and a separate fundraising page.
Harry, who is Grade 7 on piano, originally wrote the song in December after being left shocked and upset when he saw his nan’s sudden deterioration with Alzheimer’s.
Maureen, who was well known where she lived in Ongar, Essex, had to give up her Sainsbury’s checkout job when she was unable to cope with counting money, and is currently being cared for at home by Harry’s grandad Owen.
After Harry’s visit he stayed up until 2am writing the song to reflect his experience.
At the time his song was released he said:
“I was aware that my nan had Alzheimer’s but I wasn’t aware of how severe the condition would be, as I thought it would only be a short-term memory loss.
“I visited their house with my mum and we had lunch there but my nan was not downstairs as normal.
“She was lying in a dark room, with no expression on her face whatsoever, with her eyes closed.
“I had never seen my nan like that before and it really hit me hard.
Harry lives with his mum Gail, dad John, and siblings Molly, 18, Oliver, 14, and Gene, eight, at their home in Chelmsford, Essex.
He said: “Continuing to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease has become very important to me so it is a great honour to learn that I have become a Champion for Alzheimer’s Research UK.”
Harry added that as a result of his music the family were finally able to talk about what had become a difficult subject.
Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Harry is an inspiration to young people affected by dementia. He is an outstanding ambassador for the charity and a brilliant role model, whose motivation is a personal one, as with so many of our supporters.
“We appreciate all he has done for us in spreading the word about dementia and the work we do here at Alzheimer’s Research UK and therefore we would like to thank him by inviting him to become one of our champions.
“Increasing the profile of our research by conveying such a powerful message is helping to bring our scientists ever closer to finding better forms of diagnosis, preventions, new treatments and an eventual cure for all forms of dementia.
“There are 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia today. Research has the power to defeat dementia and Alzheimer’s Research UK is leading the charge. We rely on public donations to fund our crucial research and it’s thanks to the commitment of people like Harry that we are able to increase the profile of dementia research and continue our vital work.”
His music video can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeVs6q5bC_s