YORK’S annual dementia awareness concert, A Night To Remember, takes place at York Barbican on Wednesday, fronted by soul singer, author and campaigner Ian Donaghy.

“Dementia used to be somebody else’s problem, but not any more,” he says. “The cleverest man I’ve ever met, my Dad, now has no short term memory and my mother-in-law, Liz, who was the first ever nurse at St Leonard’s Hospice, has had it for ten years. It is touching all of our families.”

In its five years, the charity event has raised £130,000 for good causes, attracting interest and support from York and beyond. “People in York aren’t just dementia aware; they are more than that,” says Ian. “They understand the differences they can make with how they are and what they do."

Dementia projects supported in York so far have included the Vocal Flourish choir, an interactive art class for carers and people living with dementia and Damian Murphy’s work with couples.

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The Hands And Voices singing and signing choir at A Night To Remember in 2018. Picture: Karen Boyes

"I'm so proud of everyone in the A Night To Remember team, who bring so much not only of their talents and skills but of themselves too. There's a warmth that comes from the stage," says Ian. "A song that Simon Snaize has written for this year’s show, Lift You Up, has the lyric, 'We are family...that is what we are', and that sums it up beautifully."

Wednesday's concert also will support St Leonard’s Hospice, Bereaved Children’s Support and Accessible Arts and Media.

Taking part in a "show all about York helping York" will be Jess Steel, Graham Hodge, Heather Findlay, These Jaded Streets, Las Vegas Ken, Beth McCarthy, Annie Donaghy, Gary Stewart and Hands And Voices Choir, as well as an all-star band led by George Hall.

To complement the live music, Ian, the author of the counselling books Dear Dementia and The Missing Peace, writes and produces films for A Night To Remember that subsequently have been used elsewhere at conferences and for training. One film, I Ain’t Got Me Mam, featuring pupils from Carr Junior School, was even shown as a trailer in cinemas at Guardians Of the Galaxy Vol. 2 screenings.

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Host,singer and campaigner Ian Donaghy

"Working with York film editors of the quality of David Thorp, Kevin Curran and Jack Walsh makes bringing my ideas to life very easy, and people seem to connect with them," says Ian.

"On Wednesday, a heartwarming and heart-wrenching short film called 88 will make its debut at York Barbican, as will a film with a true sporting legend who invited me down to London to film last week.

"I can’t reveal who he is, but it's so difficult to remain tight-lipped as I'm so excited. This campaign is going to get a lot of attention."

Creating content where he sees a need, allied to his gift for communication in a roomful of people, Ian now speaks on dementia care at conferences all over Britain with his Dementia Is A Team Game campaign, but he stresses the significance of York's role too.

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Ian Donaghy with Dementia Is A Team Game supporter Frank Lampard

"York is home to a powerhouse of people influencing the world of dementia. Wendy Mitchell is a best-selling author with her memoir Somebody That I Used To Know; Damian Murphy and Philly Hare’s work is cited everywhere, and now one of the world’s top innovators in dementia care, David Sheard, of Dementia Care Matters, has made York his home.

"I add to the group as a cheerleader for what is right in dementia and regularly play devil’s advocate to highlight the ridiculous.”

Ian’s film Why Wouldn’t You?, made with the team at a Nottingham dementia care home, Landermeads, won the National Caring UK award for excellence and innovation in dementia care and has since been adopted by the Department of Work and Pensions to recruit a new generation of dementia care staff.

"I had no intention of making films, but I needed to get a point across quickly," he says. "People are getting lazier and don’t take the time to read. They want the information delivered in an entertaining fashion...fast."

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"Internet sensation" Roy Prentice: scoring for the cause of Dementia Is A Team Game

Dementia Is A Team Game has attracted interest from footballer Frank Lampard, televsion and radio presenter Piers Morgan, BBC football commentator Guy Mowbray and The Times’ chief football writer Henry Winter, when Ian made 94-year-old Roy Prentice’s dream of scoring a goal at Notts County's ground come true. This received not only British, but also Mexican, Colombian and Spanish television coverage, as well as attracting two million views online in one week.

Meanwhile, a batch of last-minute tickets has been released for Wednesday's 7.30pm event on 0844 854 2757 or at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

"It's a unique night as we ask the audience to bring a raffle prize each or a cake for the charity cake stall," says Ian. "We'll have surprise celebrity guests in the show and an encore that's unprecedented and terrifying, but we do promise one thing: A Night To Remember."