He’s raised more than £100,000 for dementia charities and has no intention of stopping. Here, Ian Donaghy from York shares some inspirational advice

Ian Donaghy is clearly a man who wants to make a difference. He’s a musician, author, teacher and fundraiser extraordinaire who organises an annual music event ‘A Night to Remember’ in his home town of York which has, so far raised more than £100,000 for dementia charities.

‘Dementia isn’t someone else’s problem anymore - it’s everyone’s,’ says Ian, who has person experience of dementia and is passionate about raising awareness, particularly amongst the younger generation. With this in mind, he has now added ‘filmmaker’ to his list of extraordinary achievements by creating a short and powerful film entitled  I Ain’t Got Me Mam. The three minute film features children from a local primary school talking about what happens when you get dementia and it’s incredibly moving (it’s hard to watch without tears in your eyes).

Ian then persuaded all three of York’s big cinemas to screen his film last week as a trailer before every film, to support Dementia Awareness Week.  ‘If we can reach the younger generation and change their thinking about dementia, we can make things different,’ he says. You can watch the film below.

Linda Firth spoke to Ian to discover how he went about putting together his fantastic fundraising event, and to find out what advice he would give anyone considering doing something similar.

What is ‘A Night to Remember,’ and how much has it raised?
It's an evening of entertainment and fun, with local artists performing well known hits. Dementia awareness videos have also been created for and are screened at the event, and families with loved ones affected by the disease have taken to the stage to share their experiences, leaving not a dry eye in the place. This year we raised £38,000, but we have now raised nearly £100k since starting the event five years ago!

What methods did you use to raise the money?
Any and every means possible! Ticket sales, Just Giving, sponsorship, match funding, pulling in favours, raffles, everything imaginable... and it worked!

How did you promote the event?
Facebook worked really well, Twitter less so. The local press and radio stations were so supportive, but to be honest the real key is getting the right team around you - a handful of diamonds are better than a barrow load of coal. People like (York singer) Jessica Steel on your team are infectious and such a positive influence. The strength of the wolf is the pack, to quote Rudyard Kipling.

What advice do you have for someone arranging an event like this in their area?
Be prepared for how much it eats into your life! It's exhausting, but if it all comes off you will feel so proud of every second you and your team put into it.

Ian is also the author of a well-respected book about dementia Dear Dementia: The Laughter and the Tears, which captures what life is like for people living with dementia, as well as for the people around them. The illustrated book, is one of only 25 books on the Alzheimer's Society's Read Well Books On Prescription list and has become an important resource for many people.

We’re sure you’ll agree he’s an inspiration to us all.


With thanks to LoveMyVouchers.co.uk, for providing us with details of this local fundraising success story. We hope that it will encourage and inspire others to undertake similar events in their local areas.