My name is Mr David Stanbury Britton, and this is my story.
In my younger days, I was a local councillor. I did this for over forty years. People look at me now and just see this (Mr Britton nodded his head towards his contorted hands) – but I’m a lot more than that.
I was devastated when I found out I had Parkinson’s disease. It was even harder when my son was diagnosed. Life isn’t fair sometimes. You’ve just got to make the most of it. When my wife died, I was on my own. My son’s illness was worse than mine, and I was in the dark. Cassie was my wife’s two eyes. That little cat is a symbol of hope; she’s more than just an animal.
After her passing, people tried to help me – but they kept saying “David, you need to think of your health and get rid of the cat”. But why couldn’t they understand, Cassie isn’t an animal, she’s my only friend. She’s my daily reminder of my wife. I wanted to make new friends, and do more things, but there’s no way I was moving out of that bungalow, if Cassie couldn’t come too. No one ‘got’ that. I was in and out of hospital all the time, and I was worried who would look after Cassie when I wasn’t there. The worry made me more unwell, and no one could understand why I didn’t want treatment. Truth is - I just wanted to be with my cat. But why was that so difficult? “You need to go to hospital, David.” “That bloody cat is making a mess everywhere, why don’t you get it re-homed?” “David you’ll be much safer in a care home, wouldn’t you feel better with more people around?” Isn’t it funny that people think they can tell you what you need.
Things are so much better now. I go to coffee mornings three times a week, and film nights every Thursday. I don’t just have friends, I have a best friend. I go to his flat every week for a ‘tot’ of whiskey. When I go to hospital, the carers still come to feed Cassie. One of them even plays with her so she doesn’t get bored. This means I can get better, without worrying.
I’m even part of the committee in the complex. My background of being a local councillor means that I know the area really well, and I’m good at organising things. I’ve got my voice back, and it’s a good feeling.