18 March 2021

On 18 March 2020, all Sporting Memories Clubs were temporarily suspended – and for the time being Clubs continue to meet online. Some of our Club members have sadly passed away over the last year. Some Sporting Memories staff, partners and volunteers have lost friends or relatives. We pass on our thoughts and condolences to everyone.

We often speak of the ‘Sporting Memories family’. One year on, we mark the strength and resilience of our family with a huge THANK YOU to to our partners, volunteers, supporters, members, patrons, staff and funders. They have:

adapted, volunteered, won awards, trained, written, produced, quizzed, sung, joked, advised us, exercised, run, laughed, broadcast, Zoomed, learned new technology, telephoned, collected, tweeted, stepped, photographed, donated, fundraised, talked, discussed, innovated, connected, represented us, featured us, attended conference, interviewed, spotted balls, been on TV, been on the radio, featured in campaigns, written memories, joined a Club (sometimes for the very first time), doorstep delivered, checked up.

Talked about sport. Inspired us.

We’ve written many times over the last year about this wonderful work. Why not take a look at our news pages? They are tales of a year like no other. You will find articles, blogs, photos, memories, press releases and much, much more.

Out of everything that as happened this year, the hundreds of online Sporting Memories Club online sessions that have taken place stand out. We cannot possibly select all the positive comments we have heard over the past year, so here are a some from just the last few weeks.

The National Football Museum, Manchester, from group member Geoff: “In what has been a very difficult 12 months the weekly NFM Sporting Memories Zoom meet-up has been a great way to communicate regularly with fellow football supporters. It has been something to look forward to during a period when we have been unable to participate in so many of our regular activities”. And from group member Edward:  “The virtual meetups and quiz have been run every Wednesday for a full year provoking some fascinating discussions. One of the most anticipated parts of the week for all who take part!”

Our Wales Coordinator Nikki: “Several online clubs have been running across Wales since the beginning of lockdown last year. Special thanks go out to our partners who have supported delivering this – Dragons Community, Cardiff Council, Ospreys in the Community, and Dementia Actif Gwynedd. A huge thank you to each volunteer who has given up their time to facilitate online activities as well as Telephone Circles.” 

A carer for a Club member in Wales: “It’s been a lifeline to find this club for my husband. He really enjoys sport which is something I know little about; he has really been missing socialising with others, especially other men. It also gives me an hour each week to sit and have a coffee whilst knowing he is enjoying the conversation. I can hear him laughing and joining in from the next room – something which hasn’t happened this year due to restrictions.”

“I have really enjoyed the Zoom club; we have become like a second family supporting and encouraging each other whilst talking about my passion for sport," a member at the Cardiff Zoom Club tells us. "I could spend all day in silence so joining the Sporting Memories Zoom has made a huge difference for me.”

One of our partner organisations, Preston North End Community Education Trust, has been running a Sporting Memories programme since 2019. Hannah White, PNECET Health and Wellbeing Officer, says: “Our programme has become more successful than ever, despite the challenges that the world has thrown at us. Not only have we connected with participants that live within our locality, but we have also expanded, with participants joining us from the likes of Middlesbrough, Leeds and Epsom, to name but a few places! Through the hard work of our dedicated volunteers, and participants that are willing to go the extra mile to support the programme, we’ve had many guest speakers, fun quizzes and wonderful reminiscence sessions online since May 2020.”

Lynne is a volunteer at Northallerton Sporting Memories Club: “For the last year myself and another volunteer have taken it in turns to make individual phone calls to each of our members every week. Most of them have found the lack of being able to meet up really difficult and they’re really missing the social interaction. Everyone looks upon the group as a family, they ask about each other often and some even make calls to one another as well. Everyone is very much looking forward to getting back together; our first meeting will be a huge celebration and there’ll definitely be lots of cake!”

While a Northallerton Club members says: “Prior to lockdown I was part of many regular social groups, since we’ve been able unable to meet in person, the Sporting Memories Club volunteers are the only ones who have consistently kept in touch every week and I’m so very grateful.”

Angie Mills-Curtis is Sporting Memories National Volunteer Coordinator for England and Wales: “If I had my way every single one of my volunteers would receive an award as they have all gone above and beyond in helping to keep our groups going by changing to virtual weekly meetings. They have also kept in touch with members who were unable to join in that way, meaning that our members were able to remain in contact with each other throughout this pandemic.”

“Despite really difficult times for our volunteers, members, carers and staff we have come together and created some memorable moments,” says Donna Mackey, Partnership Manager for the Sporting Memories Foundation Scotland. “We have heard our members share their football memories on national radio, talk about their favourite sporting object in our 100 Objects series, have a starring role in a weekly broadcast and join us in so enthusiastically at our weekly online clubs. It's been such a joy to see everyone's passion for talking about sport continuing over a virtual platform and it's been a great way to stay connected. I want to thank everyone for their contributions, and I hope we get to see each other for a cuppa very soon.” 

Kenneth is a volunteer in Scotland. He hasn’t yet experienced an ‘in-person’ Club and sums things up for many of us:  “The up-side of volunteering at an online Club is that I have got other skills now. IT knowledge that I have picked up in the last few months that I didn’t have previously.” He also says:

I feel I’m a people-person, so that’s something I hope I am able to bring to Sporting Memories. There are probably people I haven’t met yet, because they haven’t come online and I’m looking forward to that.

We are looking forward hugely to being able to advise when Clubs are once again running and we can come together to share fun, companionship and those wonderful sporting memories.  


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