Group launched to tackle depression, dementia and loneliness through sport

Man reading old sports newspaper

The Sporting Memories group will be held each week at the Kingfisher leisure centre, from May 18. - Credit: Sporting Memories Foundation

Sudbury will become the latest place to have a Sporting Memories group, which launches on May 18.

The sessions, which are free to attend, will take place at Abbeycroft Leisure's Kingfisher leisure centre, each Wednesday between 2-3pm.  

One of the organisers of the group, Andy Read, said: “I’d like to see the group offering the people of Sudbury who enjoy talking about sport to have the opportunity to get together at no cost to them, after some trying months and a couple of years of lockdowns. 

“Especially those people that perhaps haven't met up with as many people as they would do normally, or those that may be suffering from dementia or just feel a bit low. 

Photographs of famous sporting events

The groups help to tackle dementia, depression and loneliness, through talking about sport and promoting physical activity. - Credit: Sporting Memories Foundation

Sporting memories group attended by Terry Butcher

The groups also include guest speakers, Ipswich Town and England legend Terry Butcher is a patron of the Sporting Memories Foundation. - Credit: Sporting Memories Foundation

Andy has previously campaigned for defibrillators in Sudbury, following a cardiac arrest in 2018, and is using his experience as motivation for the group. 

“I could've easily been the person suffering, so an opportunity to talk about sport with like-minded people locally would've been a huge benefit to me," he said.

The Sporting Memories Foundation tackle depression, dementia, and loneliness through talking about sport as well as promoting physical exercise. 

“The common theme of sport will hopefully get people together, trigger conversations and give people the opportunity to make new contacts and friendships. 

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“I think it’s very important to have something like this in Sudbury," Andy added. 

Andy Read, who suffered a cardiac arrest back in 2018, is campaigning for more defibs in Sudbury and

Andy Read previously campaigned for defibrillator's in Sudbury. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Andy also hopes to use the groups to provide a link with the facilities at the Kingfisher leisure centre, in order to help “get people back to thinking about physical as well as mental fitness.

“I think we’re going to have something very special in Sudbury," Andy said. 

There are currently groups in Ipswich, Hadleigh and Lowestoft, details of which can be found here.

Chief executive at Abbeycroft Leisure, Warren Smyth, said: “We’re very pleased to be hosting the new Sporting Memories group in Sudbury at Kingfisher as we know what a difference these social groups can make to people’s lives.

“We’ll also be encouraging physical activity as part of the group session and working with the participants to promote the wider programmes and activities on offer.

“We have the social license for four Sporting Memories groups across our portfolio of facilities and will be looking to develop more of these in due course, alongside our ’Together’ sessions which we’ve been running successfully in Hadleigh for a number of years."