Heart-breaking Beatles cover is West Sussex student's Alzheimer's fund-raiser

A Chichester nursing student – and former member of Chichester Festival Youth Theatre – has recorded a stunning new version of The Beatles’ I Want To Hold Your Hand as a fund-raiser for the Alzheimer’s Society.

Friday, 13th November 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 13th November 2020, 7:32 am
Megan and Patrick

Megan O’Hanlon originally intended to record it as a Christmas present for her dad Patrick who is in care with Alzheimer’s disease in Bognor Regis.

But now after recording it at her boyfriend’s Emsworth studio, her boyfriend’s dad said they should do much more with it.

She has now raised well over £1,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society through a Just Giving page linked to the song (www.justgiving.com/fundraising/megan-o-hanlon2) which can be heard at www.youtube.com/watch?v=1s5_H2bDF7s

“Dad was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s when he was 53. He is 60 now, but it just feels like yesterday.

“I was 13 when he was diagnosed and I was still at high school.

“It was a very strange time, especially for me because I was very naïve about it all. I don’t know whether that was a blessing or a curse. I think I am quite glad now that I wasn’t fully aware of what was going on. I don’t know if I would have been able to cope with it. He was off sick with work and they thought it was stress originally. They said ‘Take some time for yourself and come back when you feel you can cope’, and he did go back, but a lot of us were noticing that he was forgetting a lot of different things.

“He wasn’t able to cope with the same amount of work he used to cope with.

“He went to hospital and got some tests done and went to the GP and got some tests done, and I think he was transferred to hospital in Southampton where they said, yes, it’s a form of dementia, it’s Alzheimer’s, and that’s when his life completely changed.”

He has been living in care for a couple of years now after independent living started to prove dangerous

“I wanted originally to do a song as a Christmas present. I recorded it at my boyfriend’s studios in Emsworth.

“My boyfriend, James Willoughby Moore, is a performer. He was in the Mamma Mia tour, but that got cancelled obviously, so he put his savings together and set up a recording studio, Willoughby Studios.

“I wanted a song that would resonate with dad and that he could sing along to. I came up with country songs because he was a big country fan, but James said ‘Why don’t we take a classic song and really do something different with it?’ We took the song and then slowed it down and then he just let me do what I wanted vocally.

“We put our heads together and figured out the way we wanted it to sound. When I sang it the first time, we couldn’t get through it because we both started crying.

“It was like so many times I have come off the phone with dad and just cried and cried because I want to be with him.

“And then it was James’ dad who said we should do something with the track. I can’t believe we have managed to raise so much money.”

Megan is currently at university in London studying learning-disability nursing. She is in her second year of three – a big change of heart from her Chichester Festival Youth Theatre days.

“I was intending to audition for drama schools and got rather close to going away to drama school and being offered a few places and getting into university.

“But at the same time I had to really evaluate what I wanted to do with my life and I decided that performing arts was too tough a career.

“Nursing is also tough, especially at the moment, but at the moment, the performing arts are non-existent.

“And also I wouldn’t really have been able to cope with the rejection. You have to be really strong.”