A Buckingham Palace historian quit the job he loved to become a full-time carer for his Hartlepool dad who has dementia.
Only two years ago, Simon Piercy, 36, lived in London and gave talks on works of art and history.
He sometimes gave guided tours as part of his job in one of the most famous buildings in the world.
But all that ended in December 2016 when he realised he was needed back home.
His dad John was diagnosed with frontal lobe dementia and mum Dianne, 63, could not handle the situation on her own, especially as she is a full-time carer herself to her own elderly parents.
Now, Simon’s 24/7 labour of love is to look after his dad - and he shared his story to highlight Hartlepool’s amazing support network for carers.
The dementia he has got is fast progressing. To see who he is to who he was is heartbreakingSimon Piercy
Today, we reveal that story in full.
John Piercy was a well-respected man in his younger days.
He was forthright, people turned to him for advice, and he held down an important job as a youth offending social worker in Middlesbrough.
But in 2014, he went ‘on the sick’ and was originally told he was suffering from depression, said son Simon. He was eventually dianosed with dementia.
“He was a bit forgetful at first,” said his son. But as it worsened “we noticed that he forgot a lot.
“He would, say, make a dinner, put the chicken in the oven, and plate it up five minutes later.
“His driving got erratic and he would not stop at junctions.”
Simon came home to see his parents in December 2016 and realised it was becoming too much for his mum to cope with.
“He would repeatedly ask for cups of tea nine hours a day, seven days a week. He would forever be flushing the toilet.”
Nowadays, John has to be reminded to eat and drink and rarely talks any more.
It’s a stark contrast from the John Piercy of the old days who “used to love a good party,” said Simon.
“He was very blunt and he would say things as he saw it. He always thought it was the best way but most people asked for advice from him. He was a very respected person.
“It is hard to see him as he is. It is seeing the person you love is not there any more.
“The dementia he has got is fast progressing. To see who he is to who he was is heartbreaking.”
But amid the sadness, a Hartlepool group is proving to be a lifeline for Simon and others.
He praised Hartlepool Carers which supports 800 adults and 80 children and said: “Dad does go into care on some days a week which gives me a few hours to get sorted.
“Hartlepool Carers are phenomenal. They are an emotional outlet. It is someone to talk to. It is other people who have been in the same predicament. They have got an understanding of what you are going through.
“They create an environment where you can vent if you need to vent.”
Simon loves the group so much, he is now vice chairman of Hartlepool Carers.
Sadly, only one in ten Hartlepool people - who are doing a caring role - are coming forward to get help. That’s something like 10,000 and as much as 12,000 who are suffering in silence.
Simon and the other officials would love to hear from them.
“We offer more than just advocacy,” said Simon. “It is a whole heap of things such as day trips, a barber, pottery, training and a peer support group.”
Hartlepool Carers, can be found at 19A Lowthian Road in Hartlepool. It is open 8am to 5pm from Monday to Friday to drop in or you can call (01429) 283095.
Alternatively, the Facebook page is there for people to leave messages any time of day and night.