Special guest visits Sporting Memories

Downton Abbey star Dame Penelope Wilton with Library staff and Sporting Memories participants and volunteers.
Downton Abbey star Dame Penelope Wilton with Library staff and Sporting Memories participants and volunteers.

Downton Abbey star Dame Penelope Wilton has visited Northallerton library to see how it supports the Sporting Memories charitable foundation’s work.

Sporting Memories supports people living with dementia, depression and loneliness by helping them to recall memories of watching or playing sport.

The North Yorkshire County Council library hosts a weekly session, which is attended mainly by men with a diagnosis of dementia and their carers, usually their wives or partners.

Library staff and Sporting Memories volunteers present the sessions, which include using the charity’s collection of sporting memorabilia to prompt reminiscences, followed by games, including table tennis, indoor bowls, new age kurling, darts and even walking football.

The Northallerton group was set up with initial funding from NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group. It has also been supported by Comic Relief, which is why BBC Look North took Comic Relief supporter Dame Penelope to see the group in action earlier in the year in preparation for Red Nose Day.

Tony Jameson-Allen, co-founder and director of Sporting Memories, said: “The group at Northallerton library is one of our flagships.

“It is open to anyone over 50 who wants support. The sporting activities show that even a diagnosis of dementia does not stop you doing new things.

“Sharing memories of sporting moments and tapping into a passion for sport helps people to connect with others and with their past, reawakening thoughts and feelings that otherwise remain hidden.

“When people see a group like this, where there is so much fun and camaraderie, new friendships being made, people enjoying sports, playing sports and being active, they understand what we are trying to do.”

Laura Dinning, service development officer at Northallerton library, said: “We were very keen to be involved with Sporting Memories, because it fits perfectly with the library as a community hub, as well as tying in with the work we have done to make the library dementia friendly and the role libraries have in supporting health and wellbeing.”

Visit www.sportingmemoriesnetwork.com to find out more details about the group.