A new club at Dewsbury Rams is helping unlock the treasured memories of sports fans and bringing a new lease of life to people suffering from dementia.
The Dewsbury Memories Club brings together fans and their families to share stories and experiences of watching the club and is having a profound impact on many of those who attend.
As well as being an opportunity to talk about sporting highlights, the club is helping combat loneliness and realising dramatic changes in the lives of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
There are currently around 850,000 people in the UK suffering from dementia - a figure that is set to increase to two million by 2051 as an ageing population expands.
The Memories Club meets on the second Wednesday of every month in the Amber Ribbon Bar at Tetley’s Stadium on Owl Lane and regularly features special guests.
Previous guests have included former Dewsbury favourite Allan Agar, a member of the club’s 1973 championship-winning team.
Set up with help from the charity, Rugby League Cares, the Memories Club is run entirely by volunteers, including Allison Simpson who has been a driving force of the venture.
Mrs Simpson’s father, Tony Boothroyd, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease two and a half years ago, since when the symptoms of a condition which causes memory loss and confusion have accelerated.
“Dad has been a Dewsbury fan all his life and the whole family are huge supporters of the club,” said Mrs Simpson.
“Sport is one of the few things that captivates dad, be it sport on TV, being at the match, or talking about old times.
“He can clearly remember so many sporting occasions: on his own, those he’s watched from the terraces and those he’s watched his grandchildren participate in.
“Sadly, because of Alzheimer’s, he can’t recall what we did earlier today or tie his own shoelaces. It’s an unspeakably awful condition which can only get worse.
“But when he’s at the match, or attending a meeting of the Memories Club, we get my dad back because he loves to tell the stories about Dewsbury and listen to the memories of other fans.”
Fans and players of all ages from any club are welcome to attend, and admission is free.
The next meeting is Wednesday, September 13 from 12-2pm.