Ex-Ipswich Town players including Wark, Hunter and Bramble help kick-off new dementia project
- Credit: Su Anderson
With the 1978 FA Cup Final showing on a television screen in the background, three Ipswich Town legends who had helped bring the Blues victory during that game wander the room.
The conversation is on football. Allan Hunter, Mick Lambert and John Wark - the trio who played in the cup final - are joined by Bryan Hamilton, Ian Collard and Titus Bramble in talking about their careers.
Listening is a group of 30 people, aged between 60 and 80, most of whom are coping with life-limiting conditions that affect their ability to interact and socialise, such as dementia.
Boxes of books, photographs, DVDs and game programmes are on display for people to enjoy and reminisce, helping them recapture a time that they may have lost.
This is Football Memories, a special event to help people who may feel isolated, that had its launch at The Stables Synergy Café at Sue Ryder the Chantry in Ipswich this week.
Mr Hunter, who played for Ipswich Town for 11 years and is the club’s most capped international player, has been involved with the project since its trial sessions started in Suffolk three years ago.
He said: “It’s all part of trying to put back what I got out of the town over the years.
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“We just go and have a chat with people and it’s a terrible thing dementia but it’s amazing how they can talk to you about 20, 30 years ago. It’s wonderful really.
“I was really pleased that so many other players came along as well. We all like to think we are giving a little bit back from what we had in the 70s and 80s.
“One gentleman I was talking to told me everything about myself, things that I didn’t even know, but in the next breath he said, ‘I retired yesterday from work’, but he had been retired from work for years, and that’s when it gets to you a little bit.
“We go there and chat and ask questions and they ask questions, but we still think we could do a little bit more, but at least it puts a smile on their face and jogs memories.”
Steve Robbins, an Ipswich Town fan who also covers Blues home matches for Ipswich Hospital Radio, organised the event.
He said: “The common bond was the love of football and remembering the glory days when Ipswich Town was in the top division and had great players.
“With people who perhaps are normally withdrawn, it really sees them come alive.
“It was just thoroughly successful from start to finish, a real buzz and certainly the faces on some of the participants when one of their ex-heroes talked to them was good to see.”
Football Memories is a nationwide initiative that started eight years ago in Scotland and it was first aimed at those who are living with dementia and who have a love of football.
However, it is suitable for any older person, especially if they have become isolated or lonely.
Mr Robbins, 60, hopes to roll the event out in other Synergy Cafés across Suffolk from the summer, with the aim of creating a regular programme of Football Memories sessions in the future.