A writer and management consultant from Winchester, whose husband died with dementia, has published an unusual collection of writing that will help raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity. Anne Sherry has woven poems, prose, prose poems and journal extracts into an intensely moving book. Safe Passage: A Memoir in Poetry and Prose, charts the highs and lows of her life with and without her late husband John. Profits from book sales will be donated to Alzheimer’s Research UK. Anne has also written about the process of creating the book for Alzheimer’s Research UK’s blog, which features an extract from the book.
Anne has been writing creatively since 1998, when she left corporate life. Much of her recent writing focuses on travel – undertaken professionally, with John and latterly alone – and John’s battle with dementia. Anne explained:
“I now realise that John began to show signs of dementia long before he was diagnosed, but we didn’t recognise what was wrong. He was a lovely man, my ideal husband, bright, kind, considerate and very funny, often as mad as a hatter. But then he changed. It was almost as if he had given up. He was such a fine engineer, brilliant at DIY; then he seemed to lose interest. His behaviour became completely out of character. Of course this led to arguments between us and sadly we had begun a trial separation by the time we discovered the reason behind the behaviour changes. It was always meant to be temporary, but by the time he was diagnosed he was living in sheltered accommodation, and because he was happy there we stuck with the arrangement. It was an incredibly difficult time.
“When I started collating for the book I realised there were big gaps in the chronology. It was also unremittingly sad. Yet our good times were anything but. So I mined old travel journals for the essence of our early years. Writing about our travels was an absolute delight; in writing I was re-living them. Writing about the separation was incredibly painful, but in many ways it was therapeutic and it’s given me some kind of closure. Even in the blackest times there were moments of joy and laughter. I really produced the book for myself, for friends and family and, of course, for John. It was only later that I thought about publicising it more widely. I hope that in raising money for Alzheimer’s Research UK I can do something to help defeat this dreadful condition.”
The book has been endorsed by the poet and memoirist Roger Garfitt, who said:
“Safe Passage is a brave book, an honest and tender account of what happens to a marriage when one partner is lost to dementia and the other has to balance her own survival against a deep loyalty and the intractable demands of caring for someone who does not understand what is happening to them. But it is also a wonderful recovery of that marriage in all its richness and humour, a vivid picture of two people whose curiosity turned them into world travellers.”
Miranda Johnson, Head of Corporate and Community Fundraising at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Anne’s story is an incredibly moving one. Many others, like Anne, whose lives have been touched by dementia, will know the strain the condition can put on families as their loved ones decline. We’re delighted that Anne has chosen to help raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK – every £20 raised is enough to pay for another hour of research, helping to bring about better outcomes for people with dementia.
“Dementia affects hundreds of thousands of people in the UK, including more than 15,000 people in Hampshire alone. We owe it to those people to continue investing in research, but funding still lags behind that of other serious diseases. We rely on public donations to be able to fund our research, and it’s thanks to wonderful supporters like Anne that we’re able to continue our work.”
To buy a copy of Safe Passage: A Memoir in Poetry and Prose, visit www.cpibookdelivery.com and search for ‘Safe Passage’. To learn more about raising money for Alzheimer’s Research UK, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 0300 111 5 666.