Hitting the road for dementia research

The walnuts

Folk supergroup The Walnuts will play a concert in Edinburgh this weekend to raise funds for the Eric Liddell Centre

13th June 2019 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

A band featuring a well know television presenter has hit the road to raise awareness of dementia.

The Walnuts play concerts across the UK to help raise funds for research into Alzheimer’s.

Davie McGirr founded the band after he and his wife cared for his mother in law when she was suffering with Alzheimer’s.

Initially he began playing songs for friends, but this has developed into a touring four-piece alongside folk music veterans, Fergus Muirhead and Donald Stewart, and Matt Allwright, who is famous for presenting BBC shows such as Rogue Traders and Watchdog.

Among the dates on The Walnuts’ Lighthouse Tour of Scotland is a gig at the Morningside United Church on the 14 June to raise funds for the Eric Liddell Centre.

Allwright told TFN he had been struck by the music the band plays, but also the connection the band has with audiences it plays to.

“It all came about as Davie had an experience caring for his mother in law. He realised that there is very little support there for people, especially those who are caring for a loved one.

“I think the thing that people are beginning to experience is there is no national structure there to help people. Carers need support.

“After Davie had this experience he started playing a few gigs, mainly in his friends’ living rooms, playing seven songs. He would pass round a biscuit tin to raise a little bit of money for charity.

“Then he came on my radio show and we just started playing together.”

The Walnuts draw influence from a wide range of styles, from traditional folk music to Americana, with Allwright saying they will play “anything but Little Mix, or Cardi B”.

The band have been known to perform in living rooms and gardens across the country in an effort to raise awareness of the challenge of dementia, and Allwright said the Walnuts enjoy interacting with people while out on tour.

He said: “People come up to us after the shows and tell us it feels good to share experiences around dementia. It can be a very lonely experience for people if they are caring for a family member. You need that sense of community there, and music is a good way to get people sharing.

“We really enjoy it. If you go somewhere as a tourist and see something, you are still a tourist. But when we go places people want to talk to us. They want to hear all about what we are doing and we have so many great experiences while on tour.”

The band’s Edinburgh gig takes place at 7pm tomorrow (Friday 14 June) at Morningside United Church. Tickets cost £15 per person, which includes a glass of prosecco.

John MacMillan, chief executive of the Eric Liddell Centre, said: “This is a very exciting event we’ve got taking place in the local area. We couldn’t be happier to have the Walnuts play a concert for our benefit. As a care charity and community hub, we provide a wide range of support programmes that assist many people in Edinburgh who are living with dementia – to be able to link up with an all-star band, who are making a positive difference to dementia is an absolute honour. There’s a great buzz about the place looking forward to the gig.”

McGirr said: “We’re aware of the good work that the Eric Liddell Centre does with people living with dementia and we couldn’t think of a better charity we’d want to throw our support behind.”