How Norrms and the power of music is helping Bay’s elderly through Pandemic

Noman 'Norrms' McNamara, the Torquay man behind the the Purple Angel dementia awareness campaign

Noman 'Norrms' McNamara, the Torquay man behind the the Purple Angel dementia awareness campaign - Credit: Archant

Norman ‘Norrms’McNamara started a dementia awareness campaign in Torquay which went worldwide. Here, he tells how music can change lives - and he needs your help

Music has changed people's lives

Music has changed people's lives - Credit: Archant

My name is Norman Mc Namara, some of you may know me as Norrms, and I am the founder of the Global Purple Angel dementia campaign which I am so very proud to say started right here in Torquay eight years ago.

Our strapline is “Proud to be global but even prouder to be local”

Many of you may have seen our logo on shops and surgeries around Torbay and has even been seen on buses and dustcarts.

We took the dementia awareness raising to the wonderful people of Torbay. We took it to them on foot and in person and because of that received great feedback.

Can you help with the MP3 appeal?

Can you help with the MP3 appeal? - Credit: Archant

We also made sure that Torbay hospital was the first ever dementia aware hospital in the world by making sure a record 95 per cent of staff went though some kind of dementia awareness training.

Over the years we have done many things around Torbay. We have donated thousands of pounds to other charities when we could, we have sent out hampers at Christmas for those less fortunate, bought benches for schools, planted flower beds in Torbay parks and gardens and opened what was, possibly one of the best memory cafes in Torbay.

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Then Covid arrived……. Not be deterred we soon realised that people with dementia, especially in care homes and in hospital as well as living at home were becoming more isolated. We decided to raise funds once again and buy MP3 players with screens and ask the care homes etc to find out what the patients all time fave 15 songs were along with the artists and we would upload them onto the Mp3 and send them to them completely free of charge. The results have been nothing short of astonishing. This is just some of the feedback we have received.

“Oh Norms: It made me cry. I set it up with Beethoven’s 5th blaring out. Put the headphones on the lady. Her face lit up. “Oh it’s wonderful “ she said. “Lovely” and is now sitting listening.

“One of our gentlemen becomes easily bored and can, very occasionally, be verbally aggressive when confused. He has always been a keen music fan throughout his life and has a wide taste in music genres. Listening to the player loaded with a selection of his choices has become one of his favourite occupations and had a calming effect on his behaviour.

“Lady No 1 has been a devout church-goer throughout her life. Listening to her favourite hymns brings her a great sense of peace and, importantly, keeps her connected to her faith.

“The gentleman who had the jazz choices has very much enjoyed his MP3. He dislikes some of the music enjoyed by the other residents and has greatly appreciated the opportunity to be treated as an individual by listening to music of his choice on the headphones whilst the other residents enjoy popular music which he doesn’t like”

This is only a minute part of what we have got back, it really is amazing to see and watch we have many videos as well.

So, we have sent out in the last year or so over 2,000 of these both locally and nationally and as you can imagine at some cost. Funds are so tight for all so all we are asking is if you have an old MP3 player lying at the bottom of your cupboards please donate it to us so we can do much good with it. Please remember, if you work in a care home in Torbay and haven’t received any MP3s for your residents, please contact me asap on norrms@gmail.com (Two rr`s in norrms or I won’t get it ) and we will help you help your residents. This also applies to all living at home with dementia. Norrms