New project launched by Ipswich Town fan and commentator will see older people sharing football memories

A Football Memories trial session at Bury St Edmunds Synergy Caf� with (L-R) Jeff Arnold (joint orga

A Football Memories trial session at Bury St Edmunds Synergy Caf� with (L-R) Jeff Arnold (joint organiser), participant and Ipswich legend John Wark. - Credit: Ally Bain

Fond memories of football will be prompted and shared at a special event aimed at reaching out to older people across Suffolk who may feel isolated.

Steve Robbins, with some football memorabilia.

Steve Robbins, with some football memorabilia. - Credit: Archant

Football Memories will see boxes of books, photographs, DVDs and game programmes go on display for people who experience short term memory problems, perhaps have a diagnosis of dementia, or simply have a love of football, to enjoy and reminisce.

Steve Robbins, an Ipswich Town fan who also commentates for Ipswich Hospital Radio at Blues home matches, has organised the event.

“It was about four years ago when I got to know an ex-player Brian Wood,” he said. “He had dementia and Parkinson’s and he really enjoyed talking about football.

“I found some old photos from when he played and did a lot of research about his career and found how he really came alive when talking about it.

“It works brilliantly with anyone who has lost the ability to interact with people like they used to when they would go to matches or talk about football.”

The session will take place at The Stables Synergy Café at Sue Ryder the Chantry in Ipswich on Tuesday from 3pm.

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Town legends Allan Hunter and John Wark will be there, among others, to share memories with participants and answer questions.

As well as Ipswich Town archives, there will also be memorabilia from the World Cup finals of 1966, and a collection of Charles Buchan football annuals from 1955 to 1974.

Mr Robbins, who is 60 and lives in Debenham, hopes to establish regular dates in Synergy Cafes around Suffolk, and in the future take the Football Memories sessions to care homes to support people who are less mobile.

“The Synergy Cafes are wonderful places for people to meet and in the football memory trials it has been noted that once we get a few photos and old programmes on the table, people who are often silent and withdrawn are immediately chatting about a special game they were at or a great goal they witnessed,” Mr Robbins added.

Jo Marshall, neurological centre director for Sue Ryder the Chantry, said prompting memories in a sociable setting was a great way of dealing with some of the difficulties surrounding dementia, such as social isolation.

There’s still time to book a place - call 01473 295200 and ask for community services.