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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Kate Garraway: Derek's Story - documenting the final year

Kate Garroway with husband Derek

Following the sad loss of Derek Draper in January this year, Kate Garraway: Derek's Story, documents the final year of his life.

This film follows the two previous award-winning films also made by Flicker Productions: Finding Derek and Caring for Derek.

With close access to Derek and his wife, Kate Garraway, the film provides an insight into his personal struggles with illness and highlights the challenges faced by millions of people in the UK living with serious illness and disability and those who care for them.

Joining Derek and Kate in May 2023, the film confronts head on the reality of Derek’s struggles and gives an unflinching view of the effect on all those around while also capturing real moments of love and joy as they spend time together as a family.

With around five million unpaid carers in England and Wales, the film also highlights the often prohibitive costs as well as practical difficulties, of caring for people within their homes and features contributions from Jake, the care worker who supports Derek’s care, as well as Kathryn Smith, CEO from charity Social Care Institute for Excellence.

Derek's Story also reflects on Derek’s life before Covid, including his high-profile political career, as well his relationship with Kate, their early years together and how Derek’s illness changed the nature of their dynamic while they maintained their close bond.

When asked why he wanted to take part in this film, Derek said: "I want to be heard."

Kate Garroway

Q&A with Kate Garraway:

Q: The film is an incredibly emotive and personal look at the last year of Derek's life. Why did you both want to make this film?

KG: Obviously when we started making this documentary early last year, we had no idea the events that would unfold that ultimately took Derek from us. And in January 2024, after he had passed, I wondered if it was right that it should ever come to air. But I didn’t want to let those who have given us so much support over the last four years down, and the carers paid and unpaid who in their thousands of letters to me, feel Derek’s story has given them a voice.

Also, I remember so vividly that the idea of making this third documentary at all came from Derek himself. I hadn’t planned to make another one. At the beginning of January 2023, he’d been released from a four month spell in hospital for sepsis and we were very positive about his recovery. Derek was determined to keep on getting better and improving.

One day, we were sitting together while I was caring for him and he suddenly, from nowhere, asked, ‘Are we making another documentary?’. I said, ‘Well I hadn’t really planned to. Were you thinking that you would like to?’. And he said firmly “ yes” . I said, ‘Well, if we do, I think we should work on it together and it should be your story, told in your voice.’ Derek got very emotional at the idea, because his words and speech were so limited and there were so many things he wanted to say about the struggle we were all having as a family and he wanted to speak up about it.

I asked Derek, ‘What would be your main message?’ And he said, ‘Never give up fighting for what you believe in and for the people you love.’

So we set out to make Derek‘s story together to highlight how he and our family are just one of millions who, every day, have to deal with the challenges of severe disability or life-threatening illness. And we wanted to celebrate the incredible work of carers, both professional and those who do it out of love.

We had to find a way of allowing Derek’s voice to be heard and while having to finish it without him has been so hard, I am delighted that the film is a tribute to Derek and his incredible spirit. It’s also a tribute to all of those who fight on to make every second of life count, whatever is thrown at them.

Q: The film touches upon the complexities of being a carer in the UK and navigating the social care system, why is it an important subject to talk about?

KG: There are five million unpaid carers in England and Wales and almost half of working-age women in the UK do 45 hours of unpaid care a week. And of course millions more men and women who help out to support other members of the family. Needing care is not something any of us likes to think about because we don’t like to dwell on the circumstances where we might need it. But it is going to come to all of us. This film is not about attributing blame to anyone, I think in a way it’s a rallying cry to all of us about what sort of society we want and how we don’t have to accept, just because you become seriously ill or disabled, your life is over. You should still be able to have a full life with family and friends to the best of your situation. And we must find a way in 2024 to make this happen.

Q: How important has the support from family, friends, colleagues and the public been over the past four years and of course, these last weeks?

KG: It’s been wonderful, very moving. I think it’s because people are fundamentally very kind but I also think some of the incredible reaction is because people are seeing the challenges of their lives reflected in our family’s story. I feel a huge responsibility, and rightly so, to speak up for who don’t feel they have a voice.

Dealing with our grief as a family has been so hard, and we have a long way to go of course. But we are also so grateful to have had the chance to care for Derek and have the extra four years with him that so many don’t. I now want to highlight the incredible people within the care system, and the NHS, who are trying to improve how people like myself and Derek can be better supported.


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