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Neil Hannon speaks out for Dementia Awareness Week

To mark Dementia Awareness Week, Divine Comedy frontman Neil Hannon has spoken to UTV about his own experience after his father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

Over 20,000 people in Northern Ireland live with dementia.

Thousands more are affected when their loved ones are diagnosed with the illness which affects multiple brain functions, including memory.

Neil Hannon has enjoyed chart-topping success and, onstage and off, the singer uses his profile to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s.

His father Brian Hannon, a former Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher, is one of thousands of people living with dementia.

Credit: UTV

“Gradually, it starts to get worse and you start to recognise it more until now, it’s pretty full-on,” he explained.

Neil says his family knew just how hard it would be when his father was diagnosed 10 years ago.

Full of praise for his mother Maeve who looks after her husband in rural Co Fermanagh, the singer stresses how important respite breaks are for full time carers.

Neil Hannon said: “It’s great to have people coming and looking after dad, taking him for a walk, partly so he has a life outside the house and partly to give my mother a break.

Credit: UTV

“For carers, they want to do everything because they feel like it’s their duty," he said.

"So you have to make sure they don’t do everything and don’t feel guilty about it.”

By speaking publicly about his family's struggle Neil hopes to raise awareness of the illness by putting it centre-stage.