The very first Sporting Memories Foundation conference, Fit for the Future, was held at Malmaison, Manchester, on 17 September 2019.

Chaired by Darshan Sanghrajka, chair of the Sporting Memories Network, the event welcomed 99 delegates and saw seven influential speakers with varying backgrounds in older peoples’ mental health, sport for development, and dementia research. They passionately covered topics including active ageing, lived experience, demonstrating impact, national policy, and updates on the work of Sporting Memories.

The conference was opened by Pete Ross, son of Harry Ross, whose legacy funded the conference.

Key speakers included Professor Alistair Burns, Professor of Old Age Psychiatry at The University of Manchester and National Clinical Director for Dementia and Older People’s Mental Health at NHS England. Alistair’s presentation explored the opportunities of dementia including the importance of dementia to individuals and outlined the NHS Long Term Plan. He discussed the power of emotional memory to unlock the limitations of dementia, something that the Sporting Memories Foundation knows all too well.

Sarah Mortiboys from the UK Sport for Development Coalition discussed the power of collaboration, and using the power of connections to raise the profile of good causes. The delegates would never have guessed that Tupac, Taylor Swift and Kanye West would be included in a talk about dementia to illustrate the impact of using connected assets!

Chris Gilliver, former footballer Allan Gilliver’s wife and full-time carer, provided a hugely emotive perspective into living life with dementia, demonstrating first-hand the impact of Sporting Memories groups.

Professor Claire Surr of Leeds Beckett University discussed the research that is being undertaken at the University to support the Sporting Memories Foundation, whilst Dr Hilda Hayo, CEO of Dementia UK, gave an insight into the work of this collaborative charity and the Admiral Nurses who support so many Dementia sufferers across England and Wales.

The latest Sporting Memories film was unveiled, showcasing a very personal insight into the lives of Mags and Steve Elliott through a film sponsored by Sport England.

The conference closed with a talk from co-founder of Sporting Memories Tony Jameson-Allen, who shared the eight-year journey of the organisation including challenges, impact and evidence, and future visions.

Attendees included delegate representatives from the health sector, local authorities, care homes, housing associations, academia, sports and leisure trusts, community and third-sector organisations, and those interested in establishing Sporting Memories programmes.


“The diagnosis of Dementia used to close doors – we want it to open doors” Prof. Alistair Burns, National Clinical Director

“Dementia isn’t curable, but the decline in its onset can be demonstrated by the power of sporting reminiscence and social interaction – sometimes no change is good.” Tony Jameson-Allen, Founder, Sporting Memories Foundation.

“If we can’t cure dementia, we can empower people to enjoy life in the moment.” Pete Ross, son of Harry Ross, former Sporting Memories club member.

“We need to use sport as a collaborative tool for social good, as an enabler to improve lives,” Sarah Mortiboys, Sports Professional leading the UK Sport for Development

“Sporting Memories makes Gilly happy – it gets him talking when he’s quiet at home – the group brings back the old Gilly,” Chris Gilliver, wife and full-time carer of former professional footballer Allan Gilliver, who is living with dementia.