D-Day veteran interview – What was it like saying goodbye to your parents to go to war?

Two children interview a D-Day veteran. 

His name is Ted Owens. He was a commando and a sniper. He almost died on D-Day and was wounded twice more in the Netherlands.

I’ll be posting some of their clips over the next fortnight.

Question one: What was it like saying goodbye to your parents to go to war?

Beti and David: Lost for Words: “the more people that watch this film the better” – review

Beti and David

Lovely review in the Daily Telegraph for ‘Beti and David: Lost for Words’. The response to the programme has been overwhelming for all involved.

Beti George let the cameras into her home to show people what it is like caring for a partner with dementia. She always intended her story to represent the thousands of carers across the UK who are looking after a loved-one.

Beti told a BBC event today: “People think I’ve been brave but this is the reality. We have to show what’s going on behind closed doors, as honestly as we can.”

The film was first shown on BBC Wales, and was shown in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland last night. It will be on the BBC I-Player for the next 30 days.

Jasper Rees in the Daily Telegraph:

Eighteen years ago, the filmmaker Paul Watson made a ground-breaking documentary about Alzheimer’s called Malcolm and Barbara: A Love Story. It portrayed a wife caring for a husband as he gradually disappeared into the disease’s personality-erasing maw. Ten years ago, Watson went back to film Malcolm’s last days and, controversially, his death. Alas, as seen in Beti and David: Lost for Words (BBC One), the story has not moved on.

For anyone who knows their Welsh rugby, David Parry-Jones was a familiar camel-coated figure whose voice described Llanelli’s famous win over the All Blacks in 1972. His wife Beti George, who hosts a weekly show on Radio Cymru, is a bastion of Welsh-language broadcasting.

David was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2009 and ever since has been losing those faculties which made him a consummate communicator. One of the first signs was his reluctance to check over documents Beti composed in English, her second language. Now he emits percussive hoots while the words get blocked in his mouth. Putting him to bed can take three hours. The demoralising business of cleaning up after him never stops. Beti doesn’t want to put him in a home, but worries about the lack of joined-up support for those with Alzheimer’s.

Beti and David: Lost for Words was shown on BBC One Wales last month, and nominally addresses the lack of available support in Wales. But it has a wider application as a moving portrait of love, loss and kindness.

Beti travelled to Scotland, where developments in care are more advanced, to try out a simulation kit which mimics the inhibiting impact of Alzheimer’s on balance, vision and manual dexterity. She returned home better informed and, although this seems impossible, even more patient and understanding. 

As the nation ages, there will only be more of this. The more people that watch this profound film on the iPlayer the better. Beautifully filmed by director Will Davies, it illustrated the consoling Larkinesque idea embodied in David’s enduring kisses and cheerful smiles: when everything else has evanesced, all that remains of us is love.

 

 

 

Beti and David: Lost for Words (A love story)

Beti and David. Photo: Barry DaviesThere has been an incredible reaction to ‘Beti and David: Lost for Words’, an hour-long film broadcast this week on BBC One Wales (and still available on the BBC iPlayer).

Filmed over the course of many months, the film is a record of two people facing a terrible illness together. Since David’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s, his long-time partner Beti has become his carer.

The reaction on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere showed that the couple’s story struck an emotional chord with many.

David Parry-Jones was once one of the best-known faces in Wales – a news broadcaster and the voice of Welsh rugby during its glory days in the 1970s.

Beti George is still a broadcaster. Now she juggles her working life with looking after David and with campaigning for a better life for carers.

Through Beti’s experience the film reveals the challenges and frustrations faced by tens of thousands of carers across the UK, and questions the way society supports dementia carers.

Beti’s message is clear. ‘We need a revolution in dementia care’, she says.

 

War Veteran Series Now On-Line

A D-Day Commando, filter room girl and RAF evader feature in ‘Welsh Heroes of World War 2’ which is now available to watch on-line.

The three programmes take Ted Owens, Eileen Younghusband and John Evans on emotional trips down memory lane to revisit their WW2 experiences.

The series ends with RAF evader John Evans, who spent four months on the run in Occupied Belgium, paying tribute to the Resistance heroes who helped him.

And, in an historic moment, he meets up with one of the Luftwaffe aces whose job it was to shot RAF bombers down.

Watch the series here.

UPDATE: Received a message from Dr Rolf Ebhardt, the Luftwaffe nightfighter ace, who features in ‘Welsh Heroes of World War 2: Airman on the Run’. Rolf came to the UK to meet the programme’s main character, John Evans.

Have viewed the film, Rolf says: “I was impressed  about the marvellous outcome of the interview. So the two old men are still “going strong” (at least more or less!).
I am glad I could represent the former enemy in a dignified manner to your countrymen,which in turn helps for good relations between our two nations, to come together also in future in friendship.”

I filmed a long interview with Rolf, which has never been shown anywhere: this was his first TV appearance. We are now working on plans for another documentary.