Raising the roof for teacher Rab

Rab Dickson
Rab Dickson

Former pupils, colleagues and friends are rallying to help a deeply-loved and respected former teacher who has been diagnosed with an incurable terminal condition.

Robert Dickson (68) taught art at Glenrothes and Buckhaven High Schools.

Rab, as he’s known, has recently been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, a degenerative condition which has symptoms similar to both Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease.

However, Robert is heading out to the USA next month for stem cell treatment, which his loved ones hope will provide a breakthrough.

Rab is married to well-known East Wemyss singer, stage performer and TV music show host Janey Kirk, who has set up a JustGiving page and is organising fund-raising events.

One is taking place this Friday – a cabaret show at East Fife’s Bayview stadium, as Rab’s family and friends try to raise £17,000 for his mid-August trip to San Diego in California.

The show begins at 7.30pm and tickets are available from the club office. It features performances by the duo Focus, Tom Collins, Heather Dickson and Janey’s daughter, Carla.

On her JustGiving page, Janey said if no action was taken, Rab’s prognosis was a lifetime of three to eight years, with drug treatment and nursing home care.

Extensive research indicated stem cell treatment might be his only hope, so the couple have made a special appeal to friends in the community for help.

“One thing is guaranteed – if I don’t act quickly, we will lose Rab and he is our rock,” she said.

“Rab is a good, quiet man loved by many.”

Janey told the Mail an “unbelievable” number of people had got in touch from back in the 1970s, as well as others who had never forgotten Rab since his retirement.

She realised the quest for treatment could prove to be “tugging at straws” but it was good to bring Rab’s illness to people’s attention.

Many people had never heard of the condition and it was very often wrongly diagnosed, she added.

Rab told the Mail: “Both Janey and I are absolutely overwhelmed by the response, and not just locally in Fife.

“Janey has a good name in the music business and she has a big fan base in England.”

On her Facebook page, Janey said she had to keep going to the studio and making music, but added: “It’s hard to focus on things but the music has to continue.

“I’m really only living for the day he gets this treatment.”

Lewy bodies, named after the doctor who first identified them, are tiny deposits of protein in nerve cells linked to low levels of important chemical messengers leading to progressive death of nerve cells.