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Novel inspired by family’s experience of dementia

Lewine Mair’s first fictional work based on the later years of her Scottish rugby and cricket international husband Norman



An internationally-esteemed sports journalist has written her first novel, inspired by the experiences of her Scottish rugby and cricket international husband of living with dementia in a care home. 

Golf writer Lewine Mair has released Tapping Feet, a fictional work loosely based on her husband Norman and his dementia journey, exploring his experiences from the point of view of the family.  

Norman Mair achieved the rare feat of playing rugby and cricket for Scotland, and went on to become an award-winning sports journalist. He lived with dementia across his last eight years, before he passed away in 2014 aged 86. 

The book includes a series of tales from the home where Norman spent his last two years, charting his love of sharing his sporting experiences with residents – an environment where “he took it for granted that his fellow patients were as obsessed with sport as he was himself” – and the residents’ love of Lewine playing the grand piano. 

Tapping Feet will also be raising money for Head for Change, a charitable foundation which aims to ‘be part of the solution’ through pioneering positive change for brain health in sport through research and safer practice, as well as supporting former players who are affected by neurodegenerative disease as a result of their professional sporting career.

“I have loved the challenge of writing more of a novel. I kept a diary while Norman was in the care home because I found it vaguely therapeutic during what was a tough time for the family,” says Lewine. 

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“My hope is that many of those who have friends or family members affected by Alzheimer’s or dementia, or both, will draw comfort from reading of the condition’s brighter moments, as well as its sadder side.”

Given the widely-publicised and growing connection between rugby and dementia, Lewine is donating a third of all profits to Head for Change, whose pioneering work in raising awareness has included organising the world’s first header-free football matches.

Judith Gates, chair and co-founder of Head for Change, said: “We are delighted that Lewine has chosen to partner with us on Tapping Feet and we are grateful that she has selected Head for Change as her chosen charity because of our commitment to positive brain health. 

“There is some real momentum in the media on this important subject of dementia in contact sports. 

“Hopefully, as well as being informative, this book will provide a little comfort and light to those making the difficult decision to move their loved ones into care.”

Lewine was the first woman to work as the golf correspondent of a national newspaper, having been appointed to the role by the Daily Telegraph in 1997 which she held for over 12 years. 

A mother of four, she currently holds the position of the first woman President of the AGW (Association of Golf Writers) and still covers men’s and women’s golf in Europe and the Middle and Far East for Global Golf Post. 

She has featured on the shortlist for the British Sports Writer of the Year on three occasions and has been a runner-up in the American Golf Writers’ News award. She has also won the Rolex award for sportswriting.

Her previous books include the Real Monty, a biography of Colin Montgomerie; Carefree Golf, an autobiographical book with Laura Davies; The Woman Golfer, with Belle Robertson; The Dunlop Lady Golfer’s companion; and One Hundred Years of Women’s Golf.

To buy Tapping Feet, visit here