‘Mum’s the reason I do it’: Devoted daughter's Denim for Dementia campaign goes from strength to strength

A daughter’s love for her mum is the catalyst behind an inspirational charity campaign which has gone from strength to strength since its inception two years ago.

Faye Mitchell, 44, of Pudsey, could not sit idly by and simply watch as her mum Carol’s condition deteriorated following a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s nine years ago at the age of 64.

Determined to “do something really positive out of a really bad situation”, Faye was spurred on to launch a fundraiser encouraging people to wear denim for a £1 donation in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society.

And Denim for Dementia has gone on to capture the hearts of people across the city and nation, with supporters growing in numbers each year and spanning from Harrogate to London.

Faye Mitchell with mum Carol, who has dementia. Picture: Simon Hulme

The campaign initially raised £12,500 in January 2019 - an impressive figure in itself but one which was dwarfed by the January 2020 total of over £40,000.

Faye said: “Mum’s the reason I do it. It’s been nine years of living with the illness now.

“Up until her diagnosis, I didn’t know anything about Alzhiemier’s or dementia. A lot of people are quite naive. They might think it’s just a matter of forgetting someone’s name but it’s far more than that. It’s an illness of the brain.”

To begin with, Carol’s symptoms were very slight but now she can’t walk, talk or even feed herself.

Faye Mitchell, of Denim for Dementia, with singer Clare Brooke, who performs on the campaign's new video.

The cruel disease has also robbed Carol of her identity, stripping away her personality and memories over time.

Faye, mum to Taylor, eight, and Summer, six, said: “I was inspired by the effects of the disease on my family and just to see someone with it.

“My children haven’t known mum pre-Alzheimer’s.

“Mum doesn’t have a clue what I’m doing let alone who I am when I go see her.

“She used to just love life. She giggled a lot, laughed a lot. She was so ditsy. The ironic thing is how she used to talk and talk.

“She was so fashionable and trendy and never left the house without full make-up on. I try to maintain that for her. I still like her to look nice and do her roots and nails.”

Faye said Mother’s Day was always a highlight in her mum’s calendar.

“She used to always say ‘Where are you taking me? Are we going out for lunch?’ There was no getting away from it.

“We used to take her out, me and my partner and his mum - the four of us would make it a tradition to go out for food.

“Now it’s a case of I still buy the card but I have to open it for her and put it on the mantlepiece for her. So it’s very different.

“A lot of people would say ‘At least you still have your mum to hug on this day’ and I get that. I get she’s physically here. But that’s all she is now.”

Faye is registered carer for Carol along with her dad David, 75, who also still works.

She said: “On the days she’s not at day centre I go give her a coffee and a biscuit and try to get a laugh or something out of her, even just a little laugh. If I laugh she perks up, as if there’s recognition there.”

This year’s Denim for Dementia day will be held on May 21 - Faye’s birthday and so as to take advantage of the eased lockdown rules.

Faye said: “Hopefully by then we may have some normality, with the kids back at school and businesses being more active and shops open.

“So now I’m just on the hunt again for everyone to get involved. I just know it could be a huge success, just wearing denim and contributing £1.”

To help launch this year’s fundraiser, Faye has created a heartwarming campaign video, featuring local Bramley singer Clare Brooke, who covers Neil Diamond’s Forever In Blue Jeans while images of those affected by dementia appear on the screen.

She said: “ We’ve pulled out all the stops by producing a campaign song and video.

“I had an idea, a bit like Live Aid, to have Clare singing into a microphone with earphones on and we reached out to people that have a loved one living with dementia or who have lost a loved one through the illness and a picture comes on of them with their name.

“My kids in denim are at the end, dancing around. It’s really fun and heartwarming.”

The video can be found on YouTube by searching ‘2021 Denim for Dementia Campaign’.

Anyone interested in taking part can contact Faye via the Facebook page ‘Denim for Dementia’.

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