The Sporting Memories Foundation has been awarded Best Community Group at North Yorkshire County Council’s Community Awards. Held at The Harrogate Pavilions on 25th October 2019, the awards were presented by County Council Chair Councillor Jim Clark and Kim Leadbeater, an ambassador for the Jo Cox Foundation. The prize-winning Northallerton Sporting Memories Club, run by a team of dedicated volunteers, has been meeting at Northallerton Library every Thursday morning for almost five years.

Now in their fifth year, the awards recognise organisations and individuals across the county who make huge contributions to their community through volunteer-led services, from social groups and luncheon clubs to managing cultural events and helping libraries. Finalists were selected from 55 nominees by a judging panel based on how the organisation has tackled issues affecting those living in North Yorkshire.

Sporting Memories, recently championed in the national press by Professor Alistair Burns, National Director for Dementia and Older Peoples’ Mental health at NHS England, run weekly sessions, which are provided free of charge. They ensure members gain confidence, improve their mental and physical wellbeing, and make new friends. Clubs encourage physical activity through exercise and sports and stimulate conversation by sharing memories of sporting moments to reawaken positive emotions.

Match of the Day commentator Guy Mowbray, who is a Patron of the charity and a resident of North Yorkshire said: "As a proud Patron, I've seen first hand how these sessions are valued by those involved and the benefits it brings to both those living with conditions such as dementia and their partners. Great sporting moments can be wonderful connectors for individuals and groups of older sports fans. I hope this award continues to raise the profile of The Sporting Memories Foundation and leads to more clubs being set up to make a real difference to older people in our communities"

Tony Jameson-Allen, co-founder said: “Winning the award is absolute testament to the volunteers. There are five who have been running the [Northallerton] club week in week out, making sure that everyone gets everything they possibly can from the sessions. This prize money will help us to continue supporting the volunteers, buy some more equipment for the club and hopefully have a celebration event as well.”

 The Northallerton club is one of eight volunteer-run Sporting Memories clubs in the county tackling one of the biggest challenges, that of an ageing population. Boroughs of Scarborough, Rydale and Craven have ranked in the top 20 authorities in the UK with the oldest populations, whilst one-fifth of Richmondshire’s population is a retiree. Clubs like Sporting Memories are key to improving the lives of older people by reducing isolation and bettering wellbeing, whilst encouraging physical activity.