AN amateur musician has raised more than £2,000 for a dementia charity by playing his guitar at people?s homes.
David McGirr founded Seven Songs last year after watching his 77-year-old mother-in-law battle with early onset Alzheimer?s disease.
Since then he has played six gigs in Wargrave and Charvil, including birthday parties and family gatherings.
He has also performed for companies in Wargrave such as the Cook Curry Club and the Local Larder at Val Wyatt marina.
Mr McGirr, 49, performs seven songs at each gig, including hits by Dionne Warwick and Tracy Chapman, and encourages people to donate to the Alzheimer?s Society there and then or to visit the charity?s website.
Mr McGirr, the director of a digital healthcare company, lives in Knowl Hill Common with his wife Nicky, who works at Reading University, and children Caity, 19, a student at The Henley College, and Gilbert, 17, who attends Reading Blue Coat School.
He said: ?I?ve played guitar since I was at school and I was even in a band. I?ve also worked in healthcare for a long time and I?ve become aware of what the NHS can and can?t do with long-term conditions. This brought the two things together.
?Basically, I turn up in your living room or garden, play for 40 minutes then go home.
?If you think it?s worth donating towards Alzheimer?s research then you can put money in my tin or go online. I started of by playing my favourite blues songs but now I?m doing things people actually know, such as slowed-down versions of Clash songs.
?It?s like a bad student disco from 1985!?
Mr McGirr, who grew up in Ayrshire, tries to do two gigs a month. His next one is in Charvil over Easter and later this year he will perform in Manchester and Scotland.
His wife?s parents moved into the family home in 2009 after her mother was diagnosed and the family has helped care for her.
Mr McGirr said: ?My mother-in-law was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers about 15 years ago and we built an annexe at the house so we could help support her.
?I really don?t know how my father-in-law manages to cope ? he?s a saint. He watches the person he has loved and lived with for 50 years failing right in front of him.
?Seeing it first hand is one of the reasons I wanted to start doing Seven Songs.
?The first couple of gigs were totally embarrassing for me and whoever I was playing to. I learned that I would have to become quite good to get people to pay.
?I go through cycles of thinking what a stupid idea this is but when I get up and play I always enjoy it.
?It?s a good, probably old-fashioned, form of entertainment. No audience is too small and you don?t have to worry about donations ? I?m delighted if you can contribute and people give what they can.?
For more information, or to book Mr McGirr, visit www.sevensongs.org