Financial Times 5th June 2015

‘I use sporting memories to help people with dementia'

Archived sporting images, match reports and memorabilia can all help to trigger a person's long-held memories of watching or playing sport. I co-founded an organisation that uses these materials to keep older people connected by tapping into their passion for sport.

We hold groups across the UK that are open to absolutely anyone over the age of 50 who loves sport. But there's a particular focus on engaging people living with dementia or memory problems or those who are at risk of becoming socially isolated, as well as people who have had depression or anxiety.

We're called the Sporting Memories Network and our groups are held in easy-to-access venues such as libraries and community centres, but also at professional sports grounds. One very special example of the work we do was at a care home in Grimsby. We supplied our materials and resources to the care home but weren't prescriptive as to how they might use them. The care home decided to look into the sporting history of each resident and one 97-year-old lady - her name was Joyce - used to be a competitive ice dancer. The staff arranged for her to visit the local ice rink and then led her out into the middle of the ice with a frame. She was towed around the rink in a sled and felt all the sensations of the cold and the wind on her face.

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