Our Founders Story
Neil, the company’s founder, first suggested using colouring to stimulate communication and memory in service users with cognitive memory impairments at the UCBC University Centre. In early 2014, he was assigned an assignment at Blackburn University Centre to design an adult colouring book.
Adult colouring books did not become popular until around 2015. Neil’s father’s love for colouring undoubtedly inspired the creation of My Colourful Memories; however, the seed that started the journey was the creative brief, which you can view Here.
This document illustrates how the idea has evolved and continues to do so. My Colourful Memories is a story that demonstrates how supporting loved ones with illnesses like Dementia and Parkinson’s can motivate them to achieve extraordinary things.
The My Colourful Memories project was presented for the first time at the UCBC University Centre in 2014. After a pilot program in dementia daycare facilities, the colouring book was re-titled My Colourful Memories. Furthermore, following two years of academic research at UCLAN, Lancashire, the work was re-defined as arts health rather than art therapy in 2017.
Three months before Neil enrolled at UCBC University Centre, his father passed away. Neil’s father was diagnosed with dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
Following the passing of his father, Neil was lost and unsure of what to do. In 2013, he enrolled in an illustration course. His father would often tell him, “I always thought you would be able to do something with your drawings.” After completing his first year, he designed a colouring book for adults. The moment Neil was assigned with the task, he had a light bulb moment and connected his father’s love of colouring with a care journal he had received a few weeks before his father’s passing.
The journal titled ‘about me’ was given to him by his fathers care home to complete on his behalf. Finding the journal in a box of letters belonging to his father, Neil set about creating a colouring book that could be instrumental in retrieving information regarding an individual’s interests, likes, dislikes and hobbies through the process of colouring and communication.
In 2016, Neil graduated from UCBC with an honours degree. He realised that the book was too good to sit in a drawer. Consequently, Neil began to circulate it. A BBC television programme, North West Tonight, contacted him shortly after that, inviting him onto their evening show to discuss how he developed the idea of a colouring book for people living with dementia.
He thoroughly evaluated the book in local care homes and dementia day centres over his three years of study at UCBC. He and the staff had witnessed the positive effects of the sessions on the participants.
Through the evaluation sessions, he realised that he could accomplish more than merely producing a book. He found that the method of delivering the book was as equally as important as its content. As a result of the evaluation sessions, he developed a vision for setting up a practice based on the book so that other people could also learn the techniques he had begun to develop. My Colourful Memories, the title of his first book, became the name of his social enterprise in 2016.
BBC North West Tonight discusses the creation of the Colouring Book for People Living with Dementia – 2016
Throughout this website and other marketing materials, you will see many pictures of Neil’s mother. She has been an integral part of the success of My Colourful Memories. She attended local activities regularly during her mid-stages of dementia. Neil struggles to illustrate pictures fast enough for her, as she usually colours around ten per day.
During 2016, Neil received enquiries from an increasing number of care homes, hospitals and dementia day centres, and he began building a client database. The care staff saw the positive effects the sessions were having on the participants. Caregivers and family members also noted these changes. He wanted to learn more about the specifics of the practice. To achieve this, he decided to pursue a Master’s Degree in Arts Health at UCLAN University. The practice’s overall approach was formulated and defined in two years of intensive study, which included the rigorous examination of the method by peers, doctoral students, and professors.
In 2017, his mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease when he began his Master’s degree. Since he is her sole carer, he constantly learns about her illness. As a result of caring for his mother throughout the various stages of her illness, he has gained real-world experience that goes beyond academic study. Currently, his mother is experiencing symptoms which are typical of the later stages of dementia. Neil uses the principles of his practice to help support his mother to remain independent and live in her own home. Without Neil’s assistance, it would be challenging to maintain her independence.