What The Dickins: A Tale Of Edinburgh City

Meet Matthew – the Founder of the Innovative Ally Bally Bee Project

Ally Bally Bee dementia book

Every year Dickins supports a different charity by donating £5 from each booking fee, and this year our chosen good cause is a local social enterprise called the Ally Bally Bee Project. The founder Matthew with his team have created a personalised children’s book about dementia which can now be pre-ordered! We asked Matthew, the heart and brains behind the project, a few questions which you can read below.

In a nutshell: what is the Ally Bally Bee Project all about?

The Ally Bally Bee Project is the social enterprise behind the world’s first personalised children’s book about a dementia. A book about the dementia in YOUR family, where names and behavioural traits can be customised.

Dementia can be difficult enough for an adult to comprehend and can cause some challenging situations for families affected. I hope the project’s book will help ease distress for those involved, especially children, while also educating and raising money for charity through sales.

Where did the inspiration for the project come?

The idea of creating a personalised children’s book about dementia came to me about two years ago. My wife’s grandmother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and I recall one evening, sitting around the table with the family, discussing the way her gran had been acting and the things she had been saying. It was tricky enough for us adults to make sense of – so how would a child make sense of it? It got me thinking: how would I explain granny’s dementia to my daughter?

The question “how do you explain dementia to a six year old?” stuck with me and has formed the basis of the project’s mission ever since.

Alzheimer Europe poster

Matthew presented the project at the Alzheimer Europe conference in Copenhagen in 2016 and won the best poster prize out of 100 posters!

Who are the people behind The Ally Bally Bee Project?

There entire operation is made up of a very small team and a wide range of skills.

Founder – Matthew Adams
I’m the project Founder and basically set up the project, researched it and raised enough money to make it happen. As a marketing professional, I have used my skills to raise the project’s profile, generate press attention and will look to continue developing and improving it.

Author – Elvira Ashby
Elvira is a children’s book author, a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) and a mother of two young children. Both at work and home, she uses children’s books to teach children about the world, to talk about emotions and help them develop language skills.

Illustrator – Daisy Wilson
Daisy studied Art, Design and English at Hereford College of Arts. She commenced her illustration degree at the University of the West of England, Bristol, in September 2016. Her previous work has explored other important issues such as body image. Visit
allyballybee.org to see more of Daisy’s work.

The project has been featured in several media outlets, e.g. the Sunday Post.

The project has been featured in several media outlets, e.g. the Sunday Post.

Is there a story behind the name ‘Ally Bally Bee’?

Ally Bally Bee is a Scottish nursery rhyme that my mother used to sing to me when I was young. One of my earliest memories is of her singing it to me as I fell asleep. The song therefore brings connotations of comfort to me – and that’s exactly what I want The Ally Bally Bee Project to provide to other children.

The first verse goes like this:

Ally bally, ally bally bee,
Sittin’ on yer mammy’s knee,
Greetin’ for a wee bawbee,
Tae buy some Coulter’s candy.

You work full time and you’re a father – where do you find the time to work on the project?

In every other pocket of time I can find! I’ll work a little first thing in the morning, on the bus to and from work each day, lunch times, late evenings – even on my summer holidays! Because of the time restrictions, the project has certainly taken a lot longer than normal. But when you enjoy what you do, it doesn’t feel like work.

When can we start ordering the book online and how does it work?

The book is available to order online now. At present, it involves visiting our website [www.allyballybee.org] and purchasing the book. We will then get in touch immediately to ask for all the details we need to personalise and create your book. Then, the book will be sent directly to your doorstep (or you can also opt for the e-book option).

Our Kickstarter campaign raised money for the website (which is currently being developed). When that is ready, the entire ordering and personalisation process will be a lot smoother.

And finally, what would be your perfect Edinburgh day out?

Blackford Hill Views Edinburgh

The views from Blackford Hill are stunning!

Recently, I took the family to The Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill Local Nature Reserve. It’s a beautiful walk that starts in Morningside and ends up on top of Blackford Hill. I was blown away by the views of the city – without doubt the best Edinburgh vista you can get.

Other than that, anything that involves coffee, a nice bookshop and a place that my 2-and-a-half-year-old can run around (such as the Botanics) is fine for me.

Support the Ally Bally Bee Project here!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *