This is my Mum’s button tin. It contains hundreds of buttons for school shirts, dress shirts, baby clothes, old pyjamas, maybe a spare for everything Mum made (which was all her clothes and mine), and probably the buttons that were taken off the worn out clothes to be used again. It even contains a button hook for doing up the buttons on ladies boots.

The tin must be over 60 years old as Mum has just turned 86. She married when she was 24 and was always a seamstress so would have always had a collection of buttons. The tin was probably a treasure to be kept, as a tin of chocolates would have been a very special treat in those days.

I loved playing with the buttons when I was little, sorting them into groups by colour or size, or finding all the ones that were the same. i never complained when I had to do the mending and replace lost buttons.

My Mum now has advanced dementia so doesn’t always know me when I go to see her. Today I took her some strawberries freshly picked from our garden. Her face lit up – both when she saw them and when she tasted them. She could even tell me they were strawberries.

Tomorrow I will take her the button tin – will be interesting to see if she recognises it. The staff were sewing buttons on the residents clothing today but struggling to find the right colours. They are welcome to all Mum’s old buttons, but I think I will keep the tin and use it for my own button collection ………. some childhood memories are hard to give away.

Lensbaby composer, f8.0