Meet the Playlist for Life Team

Meet the Playlist for Life Team
Playlist for Life – Connecting music, people and memories




Sarah Metcalfe worked in government, public policy and campaigns across the UK for ten years before taking time out to have a family. The clarity of Playlist for Life’s vision, its energy and creativity all attracted her back to work, determined to use all her skills and experience to establish the charity in its next phase.


Sarah’s grandfather had dementia and she remembers how even when he had forgotten how to speak, he could still be reached by singing with him the Skye Boat Song and old hymns. She now recognises that this was the Playlist for Life effect at work.


Sarah’s Playlist
Umbrella – Rihanna; My husband and I worked in the Caribbean shortly after we were married. This played everywhere and summed things up.
Friday I’m In Love – The Cure; Summer of ’92 studying law and having adventures in Sicily.
Bobby McGhee – Janis Joplin; My sister’s party piece. Once seen never forgotten.
The Jeely Piece Song – Adam McNaughton; My mum was a founding member of the Jeely Piece Club, a children’s organisation in Castlemilk, Glasgow. This song was a big part of our family life and was my party piece at university.
Baby Beluga – Raffi; A little song about a baby whale from a class I took the kids to when they were toddlers. They both loved dancing to it under a parachute. My son even looked a bit like a baby beluga.







Sally Magnusson is a journalist, TV and radio broadcaster and writer. She began her career as a reporter on The Scotsman and for several years co-anchored BBC Breakfast in London, before joining the presenting team of the BBC’s Reporting Scotland.


Sally founded Playlist for Life in 2013, after being impressed by the effect of personally meaningful music on her late mother’s dementia and then researching the evidence for her memoir Where Memories Go: Why dementia changes everything. Her book calls for the restoration of human rights and dignity to the most fragile of our citizens and for music to be used in their care. Published by Two Roads in February 2014.


Sally’s Playlist
Clarinet Concerto In A Major – Mozart; The most ravishing music on earth. Makes me think of decades of not quite learning to play the clarinet.
The Pearl Fishers’ Duet – Bizet, Sung By Jussi Bjorling And Robert Merrill; My father and grandfather used to sing it together at the piano.
I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You From Evita; Seduction and courtship.
Two Sleepy People – Peter Skellern; Exhausted years of early marriage, all the kids in bed at last, dancing half asleep in each other’s arms.
Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat From Guys And Dolls; Hours spent listening to a teenage son practising for the part of Nicely Nicely Johnson. Just one boat-rocking line and I’m back there.





Andy Lowndes is a nurse and academic. He has worked in mental health care for more than 30 years, specialising in the last 15 years in the care of people with dementia in both the NHS and independent sector. His particular interests are in the use of reminiscence and cognitive stimulation therapy.


Andy was Glasgow Caledonian University’s researcher in an innovative and hugely successful project that used football reminiscences to stimulate memory and social interaction.


He brings both his dementia research background and his long nursing experience to showing people how to work with a personal playlist and to training volunteers.


Andy’s Playlist
Adagio, Violin Concerto No 5 In A Major – Mozart; One of my Dad’s favourites and it reminds me of him.
Bring Him Home From Les Miserables; My wife introduced me to Les Mis in London’s West End. Never was I so glad to have sunglasses at hand when leaving the theatre.
I Didn’t Know I Was Looking For Love – Everything But The Girl; Saints and Sinners (Glasgow) with darling Jen.
The Whole Of The Moon – The Waterboys; Back to my DJ years where there are so many to chose from.
Dance Away – Roxy Music; Roxy were a big part of my late teens and twenties. Oh, how I wished I was like Bryan Ferry.





Pauline Lafferty is the HR Director of The Weir Group PLC, a global engineering firm. Her career has taken her as far as Australia and Hong Kong, where she worked in supply chain and latterly as an executive search consultant (with particular emphasis on the healthcare and life sciences sectors).


Pauline’s mother, Jean, had Alzheimer’s. Although always up for a song, Jean was not a beneficiary of music when she so easily might have been if the family had only understood its efficacy.


Pauline is now convinced that this personalised music therapy would have had a positive impact on Jean’s quality of life in her latter years.  She hopes to bring this joy to others through the charity.


Pauline’s Playlist
I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You – Tom Waits; Because I waited years to find a man who liked Tom Waits and when I found him, it played out just like the lyrics. (But we met again later.)
Lost In Madrid – Marcus Miller And Miles Davis; Sailing across a sunlit ocean with headphones in my ears after a tough personal time. But it turns out I was sailing towards the Tom Waits moment above.
Mid Air – Paul Buchanan; For its beauty and his genius.
Wild Is The Wind – David Bowie; I heard Bowie sing this when I was 16 and was speechless at the sensuality of his voice.  Makes my spine tingle.
Bring Me Sunshine – Morecambe And Wise; Reminds me of happy times with our family squeezed in front of the TV, fighting over who got a seat and who had to sit on the floor.  I was the youngest, so guess who lost?





Fiona Haro is a chartered accountant. She has worked in private practice since leaving university and was made a partner in Thomson Cooper Accountants in Dunfermline in 2005. Her main work for the firm involves new client start-ups, expanding businesses and charities.


Fiona joined Playlist for Life in July 2013 shortly after it was constituted. As treasurer she is delighted to bring together her extensive professional expertise with her keen interest in personalised music and dementia.


She is hugely excited at this opportunity to help transform the lives of those with dementia and their carers.


Fiona’s Playlist
Moon River – Andy Williams; The first song at my wedding.
Zoom – Fat Larry’s Band; My husband’s and my song.
Relight My Fire – Take That Featuring Lulu; A favourite from my university days, reminding me of good times with good friends.
Tiny Bubbles – Don Ho; I played this song all the time when I was pregnant with my eldest son.
Copacabana – Barry Manilow; I just love this song, which never fails to make me smile.





Dr Gianna Cassidy is a music psychologist, senior lecturer in Interactive Entertainment Design at Glasgow Caledonian University and singer-songwriter. She sang both in bands and as a solo performer for ten years before escaping into academia.


With a special interest in music and dementia, Gianna works closely with practitioners, industry and educators to evaluate the benefits of music interaction for health and wellbeing, and to inform the design, development and evaluation of effective music interventions and technologies.


Gianna is responsible for guiding Playlist for Life’s collaboration with Glasgow Caledonian University and other research institutions to deliver bespoke music interventions for wellbeing in dementia.


Gianna’s Playlist
Alfie – Burt Bacharach; I remember listening to this song when I was 3 before bed each night with my aptly named teddy Alfie, believing someone had written this song just for us.
Ol’ 55 – Tom Waits, Performed By Shawn Colvin; This recording awakened my love of song-writing at 14 and was the first song I played in public.
Violin Concerto No 1 – Prokofiev; For all that was and never will be…
Cello Concerto – Elgar, Performed By Jacqueline Du Pre; Sometimes there are no words.
Proud – Eoghan Colgann; Written and performed by my husband at our wedding. I will never forget standing on the dance floor waiting for our first dance, only to be joined by all my friends as he sang from the stage. Magical.





Shona Brown is a partner in the Private Client Department of the law firm Balfour+Manson LLP in Edinburgh.


She began her professional life as a dentist before going on to study law, developing a particular interest in Incapacity and Mental Health law in Scotland. She heads up Balfour+Manson’s dedicated client welfare team, who provide legal and practical assistance to their elderly and vulnerable clients. Introducing Playlist for Life to clients and their families has been, and continues to be, an extremely positive experience for the team.


Shona has a close family member affected by dementia and understands its impact, not only on that person but on the loved ones. In becoming involved with Playlist for Life she feels that she is supporting something that can make a real difference to so many people’s lives.


Shona’s Playlist
Con te Partiro – Andrea Bocelli; Because I love this song and how he sings it.
Dancing in the Moonlight – Toploader; Dancing in the early hours in friends’ kitchens after long dinner parties at an age when we should have known better.
Enough is Enough – Barbara Streisand and Donna Summer; Early university days singing along to this duet with my best friends, getting ready for nights out. And to friendships that have survived through travels, job changes, husbands, children and all the things that life throws at you.
Roxanne – The Police; A favourite song in the early days of “going out” with my now husband of 30 years.
Fly Me to the Moon – Perry Como; Reminds me of mum and dad and family barbeques in Zambia in the heat – even though the sun had gone down – and that barbequing was my dad’s favourite way to spend time with his family.





Dr John Starr is a practising NHS consultant geriatrician, director of the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre and Honorary Professor of Health and Ageing at the University of Edinburgh, where he is also co-director of the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology.


After graduating from Cambridge and London, he moved to Edinburgh as a research fellow in the Department of Psychiatry in 1989 to investigate the relationship between blood pressure and cognition. He then became a research fellow in Edinburgh’s Department of Medicine, before spending two years at the Hammersmith Hospital, London.  He returned to Edinburgh as consultant and part-time senior lecturer in Geriatric Medicine based at the Royal Victoria Hospital.


John has a longstanding interest in dementia. He brings Playlist for Life both his extensive academic expertise and valuable practical experience as a consultant geriatrician working within the NHS.


John’s Playlist
The Planets Suite – Gustav Holst; I knew nothing about classical music until I heard Mozart’s Jupiter symphony during a school assembly at the age of 8 and went out to buy it as my first record. This is what I actually got.
(Do The) Butterfly – Yellowman; I spent two months in Jamaica as a medical student: it opened my eyes and ears to a different life.
If It Wasn’t For The ‘ouses In Between – Gus Elen; Music hall blood runs in my family. We lived in a Victorian terrace in Isleworth and this song brings it all back.
Krusning From The Album Dis – Jan Garbarek; My wife Claire bought me a saxophone for my 40th birthday.  But I still can’t play like this.
Threnody To The Victims Of Hiroshima – Penderecki; I play this every 6 August. It is ultimate catharsis – nothing can follow.





Paula has worked in both the public and private sector in a variety of administrative roles for many years. For the past four years she has been the Co-ordinator for the Scottish Genetics Education Network, based at Glasgow Caledonian University.


She has a degree in psychology and a master of science in health psychology. Pulling her professional and academic skills and experience together, she loves being involved in the many exciting aspects of the charity, playing a part in helping families living with dementia.


Paula’s Playlist
I won’t let the sun go down on me – Nik Kershaw; Reminiscent of a school summer holiday at a time when I was just becoming interested in pop music (and popstars).
Teardrops – Womack and Womack; This song reminds me of a high school disco back in the ‘80s. I think I danced with my history teacher.
Dignity – Deacon Blue; This is one of the few songs that my husband will get up and dance to.
I Gotta Feeling – The Black Eyed Peas; I love this song as it is such a positive ‘feel good’ song that reminds me of fun times with my friends.
Swan Lake – Tchaikovsky; This symphony gives me goose bumps – and brings memories of one of the best performances I have ever seen on a theatre stage.







Anna Paisley is a PhD research student at Glasgow Caledonian University. She has a Psychology Master of Research (MRes) degree from the University of Strathclyde and a first-class honours BSc in Psychology from GCU. Before that she was lead research assistant on a European grant project examining ways in which music games can support music education.


Anna’s work examines the cognitive, emotional and social benefits of music within the applied contexts of health and education, with a further focus on the contribution of music-based technologies. Her current PhD thesis, ‘The Design, Development and Evaluation of a Personalised Music Intervention in Dementia Care’, will feed into the evidence-based programme being developed by Playlist for Life in collaboration with Glasgow Caledonian University.


Outside her academic life Anna is a personal supporter of Playlist for Life’s work to improve the lives of those living with dementia through uniquely meaningful music. She is in charge of our social media and online community reach.


Anna’s Playlist
A Whiter Shade Of Pale – Procol Harum; A permanent reminder of the unbreakable bond my dad and I have, our shared love of music and especially of this song which he speaks about so passionately.
Going Underground – The Jam; Sparked my own personal journey into music and the development of my tastes as a young child.
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out – The Smiths; This song represents the unconditional love that I hold for places, events and people, including those no longer present.
Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright – Bob Dylan, Performed By John Martyn; My motto.
Catch The Wind – Donovan; Hours spent in my bedroom as a young adult dreaming of a time I’d meet someone with whom to share my love for this song… found eventually!





Caroline Brown has worked in social care services for 35 years, mainly in the learning disability sector, where she managed day and respite services for adults with a learning disability and complex needs.  She is currently a facilitator in centered planning.


Caroline’s father had vascular dementia and her mother Kitty is in a care home with advanced Alzheimer’s. She is a member of the Alzheimer Scotland council, vice-chair of the National Dementia Carers Action Network and a lay assessor with the Care Inspectorate.


As well as using a carefully chosen playlist on an iPod to enrich the life of her own mother, Caroline is an enthusiastic ambassador for the wider work of Playlist for Life.


Caroline’s Playlist
Slipping Through My Fingers From Mamma Mia!; Reminds me of my daughter leaving school.
You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up) – Josh Groban; Reminds me of my son and daughter.
Make You Feel My Love – Adele; My daughter plays it on the piano and I sing the words from the computer screen. I know, how sad!
Shine – Take That; Makes me think of the schoolchildren I used to do motivational workshops with. I played this for them.
Canon – Pachelbel; I walked down the aisle to this on our wedding day.





Jo Downie is Client Welfare Manager with Balfour and Manson Solicitors. With a background in both art and nursing, her job is to provide practical, caring support and advice to elderly and vulnerable clients.  When home is no longer an option she advises clients on the best options for continuing care and assists with the daunting task of downsizing and the sale of furniture and house contents through auction.


From the moment she heard about the work of the charity Jo was keen to learn how to offer the benefits of a personal playlist to some of her clients.


She has since been working with clients in two different care homes in the East of Scotland, supported and guided by Andy Lowndes, and has also begun to offer the facility to others at home.  She has learned that the process takes time and is not always straightforward, but believes that anything to make her clients’ lives with dementia better is time well spent.


Jo’s Playlist
The Sound Of Music – Julie Andrews; My grandmother took me to see this in London when I was 5 and it reminds me of holidays with her in the south of England.
Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me) – Cockney Rebel; This was No 1 in the charts for ages when I was in my final year of school in Edinburgh. A time of partying and fun.
Baker Street – Gerry Rafferty; Reminds me of living in London after college. Full of new, exciting people and places.
Going Home (Theme Of The Local Hero) – Dire Straits; My husband proposed in Pennan, the village where Local Hero was filmed. Reminds me of meeting him and our time in New Zealand.
Perfect Day – Lou Reed; We went skiing at Glenshee every February half-term with four other families. At the end of the day, after a long dinner, we would all sit around the open fire and play this. Perfect.