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Weekly meetings on hold, but Sporting Memories team keeping participants involved

Like every social gathering at the moment, Sussex Cricket’s Sporting Memories sessions in Hove, Bexhill, Polegate, Worthing and Crawley are on hold.

But, thanks to the efforts of Sussex Cricket Foundation’s Sporting Memories Coordinator Lizzie Bigsby and her team of volunteers, that doesn’t mean that participants at the meetups are missing out on their weekly dose of sporting nostalgia entirely.

Every week, Lizzie is sending out a pack to the Sporting Memories community – all over the age of 50 and many living with dementia or other health issues - containing the latest edition of Sporting Pink, a newsletter containing pictures, quizzes, stories and games relating to some of the most memorable sporting moments from over the years.

Meanwhile, volunteers that usually help out at the sessions at The 1st Central County Ground, Worthing FC, Polegate Community Centre, the Charter Centre in Bexhill and Downsman Bowls Club in Crawley are making regular phone calls to participants to make sure that they can continue to reminisce about their favourite sporting memories or simply have someone to talk to.  

Polegate Group

Volunteers and participants at the Polegate Sporting Memories club that has been forced to close for now. 

Lizzie explains the measures she and her team are taking to ensure people don’t miss out during these difficult times: “When COVID-19 was announced there was always the worry of how much longer the groups would be allowed to run for.

“When we were finally told that we’d have to stop the sessions, we knew that we had to keep all our members involved. So, our volunteers from each group came together to decide on what would be the best way to keep the members engaged.

“Each week we will send out the Sporting Pink for that week as well as a few activities for the members to complete. Some of our members who live in care homes receive some extra Pinks in case they wold like to share them around. Our volunteers also ring around the members each week to see how they are doing, if they need anything and just for a general chat.

“Our Sporting Memories run all over the county and play a big part in a lot of people’s lives. I’ve seen first-hand since taking over this role the positive impact they have had. Now more than ever, it is so important that we continue to give our participants the chance to stay connected. It is obviously harder to do that when we can’t meet in person, but we will keep doing all we can to keep them involved.”

If you or someone you know would enjoy receiving a weekly Sporting Memories pack or would like to attend one of the weekly sessions when they recommence, please contact elizabeth.bigsby@sussexcricket.co.uk.

About Sporting Memories

Using the rich history and heritage of sport, Sporting Memories clubs are open to any people over the age of 50 who enjoy reminiscing about their experiences of watching or playing it. The clubs take place each week and are a friendly, welcoming environment that is open to all. Many of our members attend to enjoy the company of other older sports fans, some of our members live with dementia or have memory problems, some have experienced depression, they may have had a stroke or live with Parkinson's, all have one thing in common, a love for sport!

The clubs always have volunteers or staff present who have been trained by Sporting Memories to lead the sessions which use a wide range of Sporting Memories reminiscence resources developed specifically to help prompt conversation and discussion. There is always great fun and laughter in the sessions. New friendships are forged and some remarkable sporting stories often emerge. Some of our clubs also incorporate fun physical activities such as New Age Kurling, Boccia & Darts and go on to forge links with other clubs such as Walking Football. 

The clubs are run with partner organisations and with a fantastic team of volunteers. Our academic partnerships have helped us develop a compelling evidence base of the impact the clubs have on the members (and often their carers/partners too).