First time author, Keggie Carew has won the ‘Biography Award’ in the 2016 Costa book awards. Keggies book ‘Dadland, a journey into unchartered territory’ is the wonderful, touching and funny biography of her late Father, Tom Carew, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2004 and sadly passed away in 2009.
Upon finding a note in her Fathers pocket saying: “my name’s Tom Carew, I have forgotten yours”, she realised that her Dad was beginning to show signs of dementia and was trying to outwit the disease.
Keggie tells the media how she effectively hero worshipped her Father growing up, and says the he was a ‘joyful, maverick presence in her youth, the kind of mischievous Father who would encourage her to skip lessons to go riding, and then write a note saying: “I am sorry Keggie was not at school yesterday, she had a bad hangover.”
In an attempt to preserve as much of her Father as possible, she began investigating his life including unearthing letters and photographs from his time serving Great Britain in World War Two, family diaries and more.
Keggie tells that as her Dad was losing the memory of his past, she was collecting and preserving it.
Her book talks about his life in the war framed by anecdotes of family life, relationships and some of her Fathers outrageous adventures such as executing a perfect parachute roll after falling down a flight of stairs. Her outlook on dementia and the effects it had on her father is both heart breaking and inspiring. For those living with dementia or caring for someone with it, this book provides an honest and frank account of her time dealing with his health and uncovering things about her Father which were less admirable than those she had grown up believing.
It’s easy to see why Carew has been awarded the prize and her novel may provide comfort and an interesting insight into the reality of life with Dementia.