This week we are shining a spotlight on our network across Wales as part of our ‘Croeso Week’ and the important work the clubs across the country do to support older people.

Our work in Wales is possible through support from the first phase of the Healthy and Active Fund, a £5.4m Fund run in partnership by the Welsh Government, Sport Wales and Public Health Wales.

Peter Owen and Paul Sawyer are the volunteers who not only launched our Sporting Memories club in Barry but still keep it running to this day. Paul reflected on the challenges of opening a club during this tumultuous period.

“When we first set-up, we’d never actually had a physical meeting because all of the (coronavirus) restrictions had come in, so we started off as a zoom group. As far as Peter and I were concerned, it was the only experience we had of hosting Sporting Memories sessions until recently!

“It actually turned out to be a positive as were able to welcome people who were outside of our geographical area to our online sessions who would have never been able to attend the in-person sessions.

“When we have eventually been able to meet physically, because we’ve built up that relationship with club members online we’ve been able to continue the sessions with their spouses even when they haven’t been able to come, because they saw the value of the club to their partners.”

Both volunteers joined Sporting Memories Wales at the same time, meaning they could team up to form the Barry club a couple of years ago. Peter gave his reasons as to why he felt Sporting Memories was the best place for him to volunteer.

“I was looking for something to volunteer my time towards in the local area and then I came across the volunteering opportunities for Wales on the Sporting Memories website and it felt like the perfect opportunity for me - being sports-mad as I am - alongside combining doing something helpful as well as fun it seemed like a great thing to do.

“I didn’t want to sit on a committee or turn up once every few months; I wanted something that would be proactive, so being part of a regular weekly club felt right. Another reason was that my dad had been diagnosed with early on-set dementia when in his early 60s. Whilst that was extremely difficult for me at the time, I reflect back now and what I’m doing at Sporting Memories and feel this would have been a perfect thing for him to be a member of.”

Croeso Week is all about highlighting the different aspects of our brilliant clubs across Wales. With the club in Barry now up and running thanks to our amazing volunteers, what would both Paul and Peter like to see happen in the future.

Peter reflected: “One of the things I would like to do in the future is get more women involved in our sessions. The club currently is very male-dominated at the moment but it would be good to have more diversity within our group from that perspective – we’ve spoken a lot about women’s sport so it would be great if anyone reading this in the Barry area might be interested in popping along – then please feel free to get in touch!

Paul made a request for any sports club that might have facilities available to share during the week to get in touch!

“The next stage for our club is to find a home for our physical meetings within Barry. Peter and I along with our members are keen to get sessions up and running face-to-face as it would be a great opportunity to share stories as well as do physical activities. If any organisation or sports club in the Barry area would be willing to offer a room or space for a couple of hours a week, please do get in touch as we would be keen to hear from you and see how we can offer Sporting Memories to more people across the local community.

If you would like to find out more about our Barry club and how to get involved, get in touch with [email protected] for further information!