Volunteers, directors, staff and trustees met with Tracey Crouch MP, whose Ministerial portfolio include Sport, Civil Society and Loneliness, on Tuesday 10th April. Also on hand to discuss Sporting Memories work and projects were Foundation Patron, Match of the Day commentator Guy Mowbray along with representatives of the Centre for Dementia Research from Leeds Beckett University.

On display was a selection of the remarkable images of Pele and of sport that have been made available through Sporting Memories' ground breaking partnership with Reuters, along with the recently published Practical Guide to Dementia, written and developed by The Foundation and the Centre for Dementia Research, for the Professional Footballers' Association.

The Minister heard first hand accounts from regular volunteers Malcolm and Wendy on their personal experiences of how the groups they run have helped support older people* experiencing loneliness to reconnect with their love of sport and to make new friendships, about the camaraderie and benefits of being involved and how membership of the weekly groups has led to so many other activities outside of the group.

*Several group participants and their spouses were invited to the meeting but were unable to attend for a variety of reasons. A film including their stories was shown to the meeting

Guy Mowbray, Sporting Memories patron, outlined his own personal reasons for getting involved and about the power sport has in creating memories across generations. Guy's media work on behalf of Sporting Memories has attracted significant coverage, with one appearance on the BBC Breakfast sofa leading to over 500 enquiries in just 24 hours. 

BBC Breakfast @BBCBreakfast

Charity @SportsMemNet uses memories of sporting events to help people with depression & those who are lonely. Alex & Jim share their story.

Susie Brindley, trustee of The Foundation, first encountered the organisation when Sporting Memories worked with her and Welcome to Yorkshire in 2015 to stage a celebration event at Leeds Town Hall to mark the first anniversary of Le Grand Depart of Le Tour de France. Further conversations led to Susie joining the board of trustees in 2017 to help deliver the vision of tackling three of the biggest challenges facing an ageing society; Dementia, Depression and Loneliness.

Claire Surr, Professor of Dementia Studies was joined by colleagues Dr Andy Pringle and Dr Aly Griffiths from the Centre for Dementia Research at Leeds Beckett University in providing The Minister with an overview of the formal collaborative partnership between the Centre and Sporting Memories and current research and evaluation initiatives between the two organisations.

Co-Founders Chris Wilkins and Tony Jameson-Allen provided a brief introduction to local projects in Leeds involving Anchor Homes and Yorkshire Cricket Foundation and introduced Megan Hale, whose new role in the organisation have been funded through investment by Sport England and Big Lottery on a three year project, evaluated by researchers from the Centre for Dementia Research, testing out approaches to support people living with dementia in being physically active. 

Discussing impact and growth, Chris Wilkins highlighted backing received from UnLtd's Transform Ageing programme which takes a community and design-led approach to improve people’s experience of ageing. It brings together people in later life, social entrepreneurs, and health & social care leaders to define the challenges and to support the development and delivery of new approaches to ageing. The programme is funded by Big Lottery.

The lively discussion was then wrapped up by Tony Jameson-Allen who highlighted the key aims and priorities for the year ahead, before Guy Mowbray took to the microphone to interview The Minister, on the balcony overlooking Headingley Cricket Ground, to capture Tracey's own favourite sporting memories.