1. ITV Report

Schoolboy writes heartbreaking song about nan's dementia

A schoolboy from Essex has released a heartbreaking song in honour of his nan who is living with dementia.

Harry Gardner, 15, wrote it after visiting his 76-year-old nan Maureen McGuinness, who had deteriorated rapidly with Alzheimer’s.

Maureen, who was well known where she lived in Ongar, 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 granddad Owen.

After his visit, Harry stayed up until 2am coming up with the song to reflect his experience.

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. I left the room so shocked. The first thing I did when we arrived back at home was sit at the piano and try and get all my emotions down into words.

– Harry Gardner

At the moment there are 850,000 people across the UK living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, including more than 20,000 in Essex.

Harry's mum Gail said she is proud of her son for putting together the song and raising money for charity.

People living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in Essex.

It was three years ago this month that I sat down with my mum playing Scrabble.

I knew something was wrong when she spelled joy with a G, it was really heartbreaking.

I’m so proud that Harry wants to raise the money for Alzheimer’s Research UK, it’s not something most 15-year-olds are doing.

– Gail Gardner, Harry's mum
Harry Gardner

Harry lives with his mum and his dad John and siblings Molly, 17, Oliver, 13, and Gene, eight, at their home in Chelmsford.

He filmed the video for the song just up the road at the stately home Hylands House.

Those supporting the song online include former Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips.

Harry’s song can be bought on iTunes and Amazon music, with all profits going to Alzheimer’s Research UK.

More on this story