Chorley Sporting Memories Club is excelling in supporting isolated older people during the coronavirus lockdown.
Chorley Football Club Community Foundation – the organisation which supports people local to the National League club with a series of initiatives – has certainly proved a winner during the coronavirus lockdown.
Before the restrictions came into force as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Chorley FC Community Foundation had been running, amongst other projects, its Sporting Memories Club; a regular meet up with the purpose of encouraging attendees to share their treasured sporting memories and nostalgia. The event took place each Wednesday afternoon and was designed for over 50s, especially people with dementia or Alzheimer’s and those who care for them, for whom the lockdown can prove particularly challenging.
But the limitations on groups of people meeting in person during the lockdown hasn’t stopped the Chorley-based project from having a positive effect. The group have been meeting every week via video conferencing platform Zoom, allowing members to stay in touch during the lockdown and talk about their beloved teams, sport and memories.
The group sessions have been facilitated by ex-Houghton Weavers frontman Norman Prince, who has offered his time to support the initiative.
Norman said “The COVID-19 lockdown prevented us from meeting all our friends, personally, on our regular Wednesday get-together. We didn’t want to leave anyone feeling isolated, so arranged our online sessions for the same time and day we’d normally meet. Routine is vital for the those living with Dementia amongst our group. Besides inviting “Sporting” guests, we play quizzes, talk about films, schooldays and holidays amongst other things. Seeing someone remember ‘the old days’ once more, when they couldn’t remember yesterday, is the most rewarding experience I, and all our volunteers, could possibly have. We laugh a lot – and laughter is still the best medicine we can have! As my mother used to say, “Memories Last Longer Than Dreams” – and long may that continue!
Sports stars such as Mike Watkinson (Ex-Lancashire County Cricket Club captain) and Ken Doherty (former Snooker World Champion) have attended the Sporting Memories Club while in lockdown, sharing their stories with participants, highlighting the fantastic reach which the project has achieved.
By providing a platform for participants to talk about their passion, the Sporting Memories Club is proving effective in reducing loneliness in those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s, many of whom refer to the club as the highlight of their week during the ongoing lockdown.
Sporting Memories Group Member Neville added “I’m 81, recovering from cancer but with mixed dementia. Until lockdown, I went swimming and walking every day and enjoyed Sporting Memories meetings at Chorley and Leyland, including staying active playing table-tennis. Now, I really appreciate all the efforts of the Sporting Memories team to keep us in touch with other members with similar ages, interests and memories. The Zoom meetings also provide a much needed structure for the weeks, which had suddenly appeared very empty.”
Darren Jenkinson, Chair of Trustees at Chorley FC Community Foundation, said: “From the moment it was mooted that shielding of our older participants was going to be a possibility, we knew that we wanted to offer something to allow our participants to continue to meet, socialise and share memories. The project has gone from strength to strength, with numbers increasing on a weekly basis and local sporting celebrities offering their time to attend and support the project.”
Chorley FC Community Foundation has asked those interested in the Sporting Memories Club, including sports fans who want to share their own experiences, to contact group organiser Keith McIntosh at Keith.McIntosh1@gmail.com, or visit the website at https://www.chorleyfcfoundation.org.uk