This is a story about my grandma, Valerie.
Born in 1927; a wife to Bill for 69 years, they have 8 children together …and too many grandchildren to count (not to mention five great grandchildren). To describe her purely by her age, marital, motherly and grandparent status would not be giving her justice. After meeting Bill at a young (I won't name the political party) dance, they married and had their first two children in London, before moving to Norfolk and living in a caravan. Valerie famously decided one day enough was enough and a mortgage was needed, the bank declined …naively she didn't realise she would need a deposit! Somehow a mortgage was later agreed, and from there life truly began for Valerie and Bill. A printing business was formed and they were their own bosses. Life was not easy though - by the 8th child winter boots were cut up to make sandals. Various entrepreneurial schemes were created, Valerie just as important as Bill in the decisions; a testament to women of her era. By the time I came a long family life had slowed down for Bill, tomato and cucumber growing were at the top of his to do list; but not for Valerie. Taking an active role in many aspects of life; Valerie never stopped. Until December 2015 that is, when she was suddenly much sleepier than usual. Valerie had taken too much of her prescription, forgetting the required dosage. Our family dynamic changed from that moment. She was assessed for dementia and, failing to answer simple questions such as 'What are your children's names?', full time care was needed.
According to statistics, 1 in 3 people in the UK will have dementia before they die - yet only 43% get diagnosed; there is not a cure. Proving the importance of documenting life through photography; this project chronicles the emotions at play during the onset of dementia for both the sufferer and their family, hoping to engage and educate others on what may be yet to come.
This project started in January 2016 and is still ongoing. The work 'Valerie' is currently arranged as a book, click here to view.
Bill Hutchins passed away peacefully on the 3rd September 2017.