Making Memories

Thanks to Kingfisher Buddies, two local people with dementia have become film stars and their life stories have been recorded for future generations of their family.

London-based dementia charity, My Life Films, joined forces with Agewell to complete biographical films about two members of the Kingsfisher Buddies group in Wednesbury.

The two families worked one-to-one with the film-makers who are specifically trained in working with people with dementia. During several meetings, they gathered stories, photographs, favourite music and interviews with the individual and family members to create a half hour Life Story Film which captures the individual’s unique story.

Sandra Graham, Kingfisher Buddies Community Pathfinder, explains: “The films capture the memories of the person living with dementia in a specail way. They enable them to share and celebrate their lives and maintain their identity.

“The longer film can be watched by the individual and their family regularly so they can reminisce and feel proud of their life when the memories are fading. There's also a shorter film which gives carers a quick introduction to them and helps them look beyond the illness. Both provide a lasting memory for children and grandchildren.”

Agewell staged a special premiere when members of the Kingfisher Buddies group viewed the Life Story Film of one member in the morning, enjoyed a fish and chip lunch, then watched the second Life Story Film in the afternoon.


A lovely experience

Julie Harris is delighted with the film about her dad, Tom aged 76.

“I thought it would be something to look back on when my dad has passed away,” Julie says. “My mum died in 2017 and I would love to sit down and hear her voice again.

“It’s really interesting for my dad as we often watch the film together and talk about it and it helps him to remember different times. 

“The whole process was special from start to finish. The film-makers were brilliant and captured everything we wanted them to. Getting out the old photos brought back lots of family memories and we put them into different eras of dad’s life such as his jobs when he was younger and my mum and dad’s move to Spain.

“It was a lovely experience and the film is something we’ll have forever.”


Memories recorded

“Harry’s film makes us cry every time we watch it,” says Judy Francis, “not because we don’t want to see it, but because it brings back so many memories.”

Harry, aged 65, was keen to have the film made about his life and loves the end result. His wife Judy explains: “The film-makers came out to see us quite a few times and filmed me and Harry, both our children and our six-year-old grandson.

“Harry found it exhausting because there was a lot of information to recall but we’d certainly recommend it. He chose Petula Clark’s “Sailor” as one of his favourite songs and members of the Wednesbury group were singing along when we showed the film.

“Our daughter got married during the filming and our son turned 30 so we were able to include photos of Harry at both these events. The film ends with Harry making joke after joke and people say it’s just like him!”