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Nurse John makes music in memory of his dad

The frontman of an Ayrshire band tells the story of how his dad's MND diagnosis inspired him to become a nurse.

Posted : 08/01/2020

The frontman of Scottish band ‘John and the Hormones’ is sharing how his father’s terminal illness motivated him to change profession, from musician into nursing, and how he’s picking up his guitar once again to raise funds for MND Scotland in his memory.

Singer and guitarist John Davidson (36), from Auchinleck in Ayrshire, spent 20 years playing several bands and performing gigs across the UK and Europe.

In November 2012, aged 30, John’s life was turned upside down when his father, also called John Davidson, was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) at age 52.

MND is a rapidly progressing terminal illness, which stops signals from the brain reaching the muscles. This may cause someone to lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, drink or breathe unaided.

John said: “After months of tests, anxiety and deterioration, my dad was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in November 2012. Unfortunately, for our family, we knew what this diagnosis meant as one of my dad’s friends died of the disease a few years prior.

“When my dad was diagnosed he had already retired due to being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1994. Despite several relapses over the next 10 years my dad lived a good quality of life and from around 2004 onwards didn’t suffer anymore relapses in his MS. Fast-forward to Summer 2012 and my dad started showing signs of weakness down his right hand side. Naturally, we all thought this was a relapse in his MS and upon contacting his neurologist it was decided he would get treatment to try and remedy his current situation.

“Unfortunately, unlike before, this had absolutely no effect and his symptoms continued to deteriorate. Slowly his mobility declined, power in his arms declined and his speech was beginning to change. This led to further tests being done in Glasgow until we met with the Lead Neurologist who confirmed our worst fears.

“We were left heartbroken after the diagnosis. Within weeks we flew him to Austria to get stem cell therapy at a cost of almost £20,000. We did everything we could to try and raise the funds; selling guitars, gold, jewellery, loans, you name it. We would’ve done anything to try and stop the disease but, as we learned, there is no stopping it. Our efforts had zero effect and his decline continued.

“During his illness the whole family cared for my dad. My mum temporarily gave up her job as a nurse. He spent a brief period of time at the Ayrshire Hospice during the time adaptations were being made to the house and we will be forever grateful for their help.

“At the time I was still working as a musician so it didn’t really affect my work, as I was able to be more flexible with what I did.”

In November 2013, almost a year to the day of his diagnosis, John’s father passed away, aged 53.

“The whole family was devastated. After my dad died I pretty much gave up on music and I made the decision to follow after my mum and become a nurse. I spent the next few years working towards my nursing degree, adamant to help others so that something positive should come out of this awful experience.

“Today I’m two years qualified as a staff nurse. To be honest I wish I had gone into Nursing years ago, but I still love music and will always write and perform.”

John, having returned to his original passion one more time, has released a brand new ‘John and the Hormones’ single titled ‘Face (The Way I Remember)’. The single is dedicated to his father, with the lyrics reflecting the deterioration he saw in his father after his MND diagnosis.

He said: “The sentiment behind the song is very much about my dad and what he went through with MND. The video is very much all about him and charts his life.

Over the years our family has raised thousands of pounds for the cause through marathons, charity gigs, auctions, the 3 Peaks Challenge, charity albums, you name it.

“MND Scotland is a charity close to our hearts and I would like to donate any proceeds from this single to the charity given the fact that the sentiment behind the song is about my dad and the illness. The accompanying video is also dedicated to him.”

Iain McWhirter, Head of Fundraising at MND Scotland, said: “I’d like to thank John for sharing his father’s story with MND and choosing to raise money for MND Scotland with his new single.

“John reminds us of the impact that Motor Neurone Disease has, not only on the person with the condition, but on the whole family. John’s decision to become a nurse shows us how profound a diagnosis of MND in the family can be, and how people can respond in unexpected and life-changing ways.”

John and the Hormones’ single can be streamed from Apple Music, Spotify, and most major music streaming and purchasing platforms.

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“John’s decision to become a nurse shows us how profound a diagnosis of MND in the family can be, and how people can respond in unexpected and life-changing ways.”

Iain McWhirter | Head of Fundraising

Iain McWhirter | Head of Fundraising

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