Tommy Whitelaw writes about the upcoming 'Concert for Caring' and the impact music has had on his life.

Growing up like most in Glasgow, New Year’s parties at home ended with songs. I used to watch and listen to my dad sing songs from Perry Como, to Frank Sinatra, to Roberta Flack. And anytime he sung a love song, no matter how crowded a room, his eyes fixed solely to my mum with a love for each other I’m so glad I witnessed. Parties when I was young always finished with a song.

Many years later I worked in music, touring with artists and bands across the world. But after 25 years of touring, I returned to Glasgow for a short break – at first for myself, then unexpectedly to care for my late mum Joan, who lived the last years of her life with dementia. I became a carer overnight.

During one of our darkest days over those nearly six years, when my mum was scared, I felt quite hopeless and we both felt alone, by accident – and wishing my dad was here to help us – I sang to my mum one morning: a Perry Como song ‘For the Good Times’. My mum’s eyes lit up, and I knew in my heart that my mum was remembering my dad, and suddenly we both felt less alone, less scared and I felt less hopeless. And every time from then on when either of us was scared I would sing one of those songs.

Since my mum’s passing, as part of my role as the National Lead for Caring at Outreach at the ALLIANCE, I’ve been on a tour across the UK to speak with health and social care staff and students, public sector workers, managers and government officials to advocate for kindness and compassion in care. Every talk on that tour has ended with a song, because music has an incredible power to connects us, lift us, and remind us of the love stories in our lives.

On 10 September 2023 at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, we will host the next ALLIANCE Concert for Caring. Primarily, this is a chance to recognise and celebrate everyone who provides care in our society for the incredible work they do every day, whether it’s unpaid carers, health and social care professionals, or third sector organisations that support many people to live well. We’ll be sharing the stories and songs of love, kindness and care that connect us all.

Read more about the concert on our website, and find out more about our concert partners who are helping us put on a fantastic night of celebration.

Tommy’s song of caring is Perry Como’s “For The Good Times”:

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