Heather O’Neil in Bedale, North Yorkshire, enjoyed crafting with her late mother. She explains how she’s transformed their ideas into charity fundraising.
My mum was artistic her whole life, so after her mixed dementia diagnosis in 2012, I made it my mission to give her the best quality of life that I could.
We embarked on a wonderful creative journey together – not only for her to reap the benefits of art therapy, but to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s Society.
We began selling her crafts on Etsy, donating a percentage from our sales. After her passing in 2021, I decided to keep our shop going in her memory.
I now sell forget-me-not suncatchers and Alzheimer’s art as well as other crafts. My total donation to Alzheimer’s Society is now just over £2,000.
In 2014 I brought my mum and stepdad to live near me so I could care for them both. Initially I looked after them in their retirement flat, cutting down my work hours to enable caring.
When my stepdad passed away in 2018, we took Mum in to live with us. I reduced my hours further and started working from home.
Over the years we were caregivers, life changed massively. My partner James and I cared for Mum 24/7.
Almost everything was put on hold – no holidays, no days away. I stopped volunteering, horse-riding, meeting friends.
Life revolved completely around my mum, and I don’t regret that for a minute.
After Mum passed I decided not to return to my job, as I felt I needed time to heal and replenish after eight years of caregiving.
I work from home now doing what Mum and I loved, making crafts and selling them online.
Dream into reality
I decided to open an Etsy shop as my mum had always dreamed of having a craft shop. Selling our crafts brought my mum so much happiness and kept her engaged and productive.
She was very proud of her work and amazed that people all over the world wanted to buy her creations!
Last year we were approached by Sian Kinsey from Alzheimer’s Society. She asked if I had any ideas for a Forget Me Not crafts pack and I thought Mum’s crepe paper flowers would fit in well – especially forget-me-nots.
My mum made beautiful crepe paper flowers right up to a few weeks before she passed away.
I created templates from her flowers and provided Sian with instructions, crepe paper, templates and finished flowers to help her and the creative team make a forget-me-not to include in the craft pack.
The paper flower is easy to make and can be a great way for people to raise awareness and funds for the Society. They could be sold in pretty little bunches at coffee mornings and fundraisers.
Forget Me Not crafts
Craft throughout May and aim to raise £100 to support people living with dementia.