An interview with Sir Geoff Hurst

An interview with Sir Geoff Hurst

15 March 2018

Sir Geoff Hurst was Sporting Memories Foundation's ambassador at the recent Pinders Healthcare Design Awards ceremony at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, London, where The Foundation were the chosen charity partner of the event, attended by over 600 people. Ahead of the event, we caught up with Sir Geoff for a quick interview.

News that 1966 World Cup winners Martin Peters, Nobby Stiles and Ray Wilson are living with dementia and that Jack Charlton is also experiencing severe memory problems has been reported across various media outlets.

In response, Tony Jameson-Allen, Co-founder and Director of Sporting Memories, said:

“It is sad to read the news that so many of the 1966 World Cup winning squad are now living with dementia or memory problems. Dementia is a cruel disease that does not discriminate as to who may be affected by it. We hope the players concerned and their families are receiving the best support possible to ensure their quality of life is maintained as well as it can possibly can be.

At Sporting Memories we believe in the power of reminiscing to help combat the debilitating effects of dementia, depression and loneliness.  We use tried and tested tools in group settings to engage with the elderly using memory aids and indoor sports games, to help promote healthy ageing and create new friendships.”

The Sporting Memories Foundation have created a guide to help former players diagnosed with dementia. The Professional Footballers' Association have produced the guide with The Sporting Memories Foundation and researchers from the Centre for Dementia Research at Leeds Beckett University.

Gordon Taylor, CEO of the PFA said "It has been designed to give practical first steps and tips on living day to day with dementia."

May Tees, wife of the former Grimsby Town footballer Matt Tees who lives with Dementia and appeared on Alan Shearer's recent Football, Dementia and Me documentary, said: “The guide offers really good day to day advice on things that can help families living with someone that has Dementia.

“The legal advice in particular is excellent and our power of attorneys are now being used which is great. The benefits that are out there and help being offered is excellent and lets new people who have just been diagnosed know what is available to them within the game.

“Newly diagnosed people don't know where to turn initially. They have the same information from Memory Clinics but it takes time to get your head round the diagnosis and all the legal obligations involved, so I hope the guide will really have a benefit in that area.

Our local Sporting Memories group is going from strength to strength and they have now started a second group because of the interest. Our group has a real mix of people and not everyone has memory problems.  Most of the participants are there for the social aspect the group offers them, and as well as the five or six members who attend and are living with dementia, the interaction the group offers is fabulous and really helps.”

Chris Wilkins, Co-founder and Director of The Sporting Memories Foundation, said:

"A number of former professional footballers attend weekly sporting memories groups alongside older fans and the support and engagement from football and other sports clubs has been fantastic.

Our work to help people living with dementia, depression or loneliness, is also helping to bridge the generational gap by bringing people of all ages together to enjoy sharing their memories and experiences of playing and watching sport, whilst also improving their own physical and mental wellbeing."

Sporting Memories are helping hundreds of organisations and volunteers across the UK deliver programmes for people living with dementia, depression and for older sports fans using the power of sports reminiscence and physical activities.

The Premier League Charitable Trust, Professional Footballers’ Association, Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities programme, Sport Relief and the Heritage Lottery Fund have all provided grants to help build on the Sporting Memories' proven success.

Pojects include a unique partnership with the FA and National Football Museum to celebrate the 50th anniversary of England’s finest moment in the beautiful game. Memories of 66 is a project to collect the Nations’ memories of England’s World Cup win, & also includes establishing more weekly sporting memories groups to support former players and fans.

The Sporting Memories Foundation also teamed up with Fulham Football Club Foundation to support the #Cohen66 campaign to honour 1966 winner George Cohen with a statue and to also establish sporting memories groups around Craven Cottage.

Hundreds of stars of sport have shown their support for the work of Sporting Memories by sharing their own favourite memories. Supporters include Sir Steve Redgrave, David Weir, David Coulthard, Gordon Taylor, Robbie Savage and Chris Kamara.

Chris added: “Many of us have powerful memories from sport, whether it’s watching the World Cup with the local community coming together, singing, chanting, or being at a memorable Centre Court match at Wimbledon. There’s something about the communal and shared activity that creates powerful, positive memories.  It’s about camaraderie, humour and spirit. Sport teaches us a lot about resilience as well as the uplift of winning; it can have such an inspiring, resonating impact in our lives, and we’re proud to help bring alive the past into the present, and bring people together.”