Tackling dementia, depression and loneliness through the power of sport

For our Dunston club and his dad – Meet Great North Run James Fellows

We’re delighted to have a number of runners taking on the Great North Run 2022 in September. Running through the streets of Newcastle to raise awareness and funding for us will be James Fellows, who facilitates our club in nearby Dunston.

James began by detailing his journey with Sporting Memories and how the club sprang into life earlier this year.

“I work as a Community Link Worker in the Inner West area of Gateshead and I was initially made aware of Sporting Memories by one of the GPs at the Whickham practice as a way of getting people who were living with dementia, in social isolation or living with depression to connect with the wider world.

“I met with Chris (Wilkins, CEO of Sporting Memories) and then started the group in Dunston. We’ve been going since March and it has gone really well so far. In my opinion, it has had a positive impact on those people attending as well as their carers. We had 11 members at our last session and I think folks are just enjoying the social connection of the club and meeting new people in the local area.”

Unlike most of our clubs, Dunston is a referral club where local GPs invite patients either living with dementia or other long-term challenges as a way of social prescribing, and James detailed why he believes the club is working so well.

“The fact that the members know they can come along and have a chat means you often see them with smiles on their faces before the session has started. I also believe that the local connection is really important for our members as well, as I’ve also noticed they often share local stories about the Dunston area, which helps them to bond.”

James is one of five runners undertaking the Great North Run in recognition of Sporting Memories and he has a deeply personal connection for his decision to take on the biggest half-marathon in the world, running for his dad Paul.

“I’ve always wanted to do the Great North run and I’ve always ran to keep fit, but the reason I wanted to run was in memory of my dad. He was diagnosed with early on set dementia at the age of 48 and he passed away when he was 57 in 2016.

“It’s why I feel so strongly about Sporting Memories because he used to attend similar groups and I know it had a profound impact on him – it kept him stimulated and busy which helped to combat his dementia in many ways.

“It is the inspiration for me to run, plus he was also a runner as well, so I feel like he would be proud.”

“Over the last 10 years the awareness around dementia has really increased in society which is a great thing but there is always so much more we can all do to provide the support that everyone needs - including letting people know about Sporting Memories and the clubs it has all across the country.”

James’s Sporting Memories club in Dunston is currently on the lookout for volunteers to help support the wonderful members that it currently has and also to allow new members to join in the future.

“Our club is great – it has a really friendly and relaxed environment and the members and volunteers all seem to really enjoy themselves, which is the most important thing.

“I’d love to have more volunteers supporting the club, so if you have a passion for supporting older people, or just like talking about sport and history, please feel free to get in touch. You’ll be doing a great service to the people Dunston and Gateshead!”

Visit James’s Fundraising Page to help his work in Dunston and across our entire network

Volunteers

We’re always on the lookout for volunteers to help run our clubs all across England, Scotland and Wales – find out more here.

Find a club

Want to know where your nearest Sporting Memories club is? Visit our find a club page to check our your local club here!

Our impact

Reducing Isolation

Bringing older people together to reduce isolation and loneliness

Mental Wellbeing

Supporting older people to improve their mental wellbeing

Physical Wellbeing

Getting older people active to live healthier lifestyles

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