26 February 2021

Helen Johnston

By Helen Johnston, Communications Manager

Over the coming year, as we celebrate our tenth anniversary, we will be highlighting some remarkable memories and experiences.

Professionals from the world of sport are generously sharing their time and special moments with us. As are our volunteers, Sporting Memories Club members, our staff and members of the public.

I have my favourites so far, for sure. Many because of ‘who’ they are from, but always because of those thoughts and emotions they provoke.

We have filmed conversations with George Berry, Emmerson Boyce, Dame Katherine Grainger DBE, Jack Russell, Maggie Green. Memories from Will Greenwood and his father Richard, Charlotte Thompson, Mike Tindall, Russell Fuller, Garry Richardson, Sara Orchard, John Inverdale. From Jill Thomas and Christine Trueman. And many other videos and written memories we will share over the coming months.

In the run-up to International Women’s Day 2021, which takes place on 8 March, we will be sharing some wonderful pieces, from women and from men involved in women’s sport. Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Olympic champion curler Debbie Knox, and John Hurst – team manager and goalkeeping coach to Team GB Olympic champions women’s hockey team.

Every week at over 130 Sporting Memories Clubs, memories of sport are shared. How many? I’ve often thought we need one of those match-analysis services used by broadcasters – someone pressing a button (is that what happens?) every time a sporting memory or different sport is mentioned: he mentioned that, she retorted with that, so she laughed about that, and everyone laughed about that

However many there may be, each sporting moment mentioned at a Sporting Memories Club sparks conversation and ignites positive memories among those who attend, many of whom are living with conditions such as dementia, depression or loneliness.

Capturing memories is a small part of what we do. But memories do deserve time to be celebrated. Our Replay Sporting Memories website lets you browse, collect, contribute. Our small team of volunteers aims to keep on top of it: proofing, approving, tagging, categorising, organising. We write them into our weekly Sporting Pink editions. It takes time; we read them all with care.

Thank you

My thanks go to all our contributors to date, but to one person in particular. I first met Alastair Hignell CBE in the run-up to our December 2020 virtual conference, which Alastair had agreed to host. We already knew we wanted the conference to revolve around a series of conversations, with people who had a strong connection to our work and those we work with. And so conversations he had. They included with Henry Winter, Ray Fallan, Luther Blissett and Sir Jackie Stewart OBE.

Alastair became a Sporting Memories Patron, and over the last few weeks has been tirelessly championing of our work in the media, through sporting bodies, and through fellow sportspeople – recording conversations on film, and inspiring the contributing of memories for the benefit of those living with dementia. Earlier this month, Alastair spoke with The Guardian about Sporting Memories and his own life: 'Alastair Hignell knows more than most that memories are precious'.

And so my thanks to Alastair for his remarkable support and my subsequently teetering inbox with emails from members of the public and sporting stars alike, to everyone who has contributed and has helped us spread word of our work, to everyone who has come forward to offer practical support in remarkable and imaginative ways – and most especially to those of you who are talking about and remembering sport with someone you know. To spark even one positive, special memory. As we #TalkAboutSport.

Find out more about Replay Sporting Memories

Read about International Women's Day 2021

Watch again: 'Raising The Bar: Conversations on the Power of Sport'