By Donna Mackey, Sporting Memories Foundation Scotland Partnership Manager

Partnerhip manager Donna Mackey

16 July 2020

Thursday 13 February 2020 was a poignant day for Sporting Memories in Corstorphine, Edinburgh. At 10.30am three local people eagerly arrived at the Community Centre, ready for their cuppa and to chat about their love of sport with us. It was a special moment... it looked like our Club was finally up and running! 

Anyone who has set up community activity will know that it does not happen overnight. Every week we all patiently sat in the Community Centre, getting excited every time the chime on the front door rang out. The kettle was on and the Sporting Memories Replay Cards were laid out on the table in anticipation of a quiz.

As a team we did everything we could to spread the word about our new club: leaflets were printed and dropped around the neighbourhood; posters were put up in shop windows; word spread through other community centre clubs, and articles were written in the local newsletter – all in the hope that it would catch the attention of older sports fans in the area.

When we finally got feet through the door it was a great moment for us. Conversation flowed about sporting passions, coffee cups were refilled, and memories shared about days gone by on the football pitches of Edinburgh and beyond. And that really was the catalyst for the club getting stronger in numbers (and in personalities!) as the weeks went by. Two weeks later (thanks to funding from the North West Edinburgh Community Grant) we took the short journey across to Murrayfield rugby stadium and were guided behind the scenes and onto the famous pitch. What a sight that was! Our favourite highlight so far.

Members of the Corstorphine Club and Murrayfield

Club member Frank recalled: "I'd never been to Murrayfield before, so it was amazing to see into the changing rooms and get on to the pitch. I had a great day."

Typically, in the week prior to lockdown we had our busiest session ever as 13 people joined us around the table! It was amazing to see new faces being welcomed into the group and we even tried to start a Formula One prediction league as the season was due to start that weekend in Australia. Enthusiasm and energy was high! So, when we had to call everyone to tell them that Sporting Memories was suspended due to COVID-19 you could sense the disappointment from both the members and the volunteers. We were just getting going! 

However, we we did not want to leave it there. We decided to set up weekly check-in calls to keep the conversation going and to talk about sport. Graeme, our lead volunteer Session Facilitator, makes the calls every Thursday morning and enjoys a 10-minute (or sometimes longer) chat with the guys. "I really enjoy it. It is nice to keep connected with the group and keep the enthusiasm going for when we make our return to the community centre. They appreciate that time to chat about some memories and we now chat through the Sporting Pink. They’re all desperate to come back."

The Sporting Pink is a digital magazine that we have adapted for this period and features reminiscence articles, quizzes, puzzles, and activities to do at home. It is available to every Sporting Memories member and their families and a new edition comes out every Wednesday. Via the telephone check-in calls we established that many of the Corstorphine group don't have internet access so we have decided to print off copies of the Pink and post it to them every week with a biscuit and a tea bag... all designed to provide that sense of being around the table on a Thursday morning. 

Alan (pictured with his Sporting Pink), attended two sessions before lockdown and really appreciates the weekly calls from Graeme. Alan's daughter told us:

"I am most effusive in my thanks for all you are doing Graeme!... it really helps him. My dad used to do loads of charity work in his younger years and feels heartened that benefit is coming back his way. He only came to one or two meetings before lockdown and it was a great move for him as his wife had a stroke at Christmas and he had suddenly become a full-time carer, while dealing with his own difficulties. He has really been enjoying and benefiting from the companionship on offer."

Alan with his copy of the Sporting Pink

Every step of the way we have had the wonderful support of Corstorphine Community Centre; they believed how it could benefit older adults in Corstorphine.

Sian McSorley manages the Community Centre. "We have welcomed the partnership with Sporting Memories Foundation Scotland to set up the weekly Sporting Memories Club as sport is a fantastic way to bring people together to remember key events and people in their lives – even if some memories are more supportive to one team or another! It provides a great discussion topic and can bring humour to debates. It's a way to break down barriers and make people feel inclusive in a group setting and build new links in the local community. We can’t wait to get everyone round the table again!"

It may be some time before we are all together again with the kettle on and biscuits laid out on the table but until then we will continue to share our stories and reminisce about our favourite sporting moments over the telephone. We are all counting down the days until that front door chimes once again.

At the time of writing, Sporting Memories clubs are suspended due to COVID-19, but do see our online resources, such as our Activities page, and our Sporting Memories Weekly and Sporting Memories in 100 Objects videos. Helping everyone to #TalkAboutSport.

When it is safe to do so and community activity resumes, Sporting Memories at Corstorphine Community Centre will run every Thursday, 10.30am–12.00pm. If you have any questions about the Club, please do get in touch with Donna, by sending an email to [email protected]