Bringing international Rugby experiences to Beeston

We recently visited our Sporting Memories Club held in Beeston, Nottinghamshire, where they welcomed a special guest in the form of former Scottish rugby union international Chris Gray.

Getting to know Beeston

Our Beeston Club, operated under the Sporting Memories social licence model by Imagine Arts, is a Club for people living with dementia and their partners, where they get to enjoy the conversations and activities provided by the wonderful volunteers who have helped to develop the Club since it began in April 2022.

The members often speak about the fun they have during sessions to their families and also the volunteers, who are on hand to support members during their time at the Club.

At the start of the session where Chris and Kelly, our Director of Impact and Fundraising, joined the group, all those in attendance got stuck into the sports quiz and Spot The Ball games provided in the weekly Sporting Pink, which is produced by Sporting Memories as a valuable session resource for Clubs across England, Scotland and Wales.

After that first round of activities, it was then the turn of Chris to be introduced to the Members and share his story from his life in Nottingham and career in rugby union.

Meeting the former Lock

Chris, born in Haddington, has spent a large period of his life in Nottinghamshire, having played for Nottingham RFC during the 1980s and 1990s, whilst also doing his full-time job as a Dentist in the local area!

Playing in the amateur era of Rugby Union, Chris was a Lock playing over 200 times for Nottingham, where he also played at the highest level of the international game for his country, featuring in the 1990 Five Nations, as well as the 1991 Rugby World Cup.

During his time at the Club, Chris recalled how he started his journey into Rugby as a junior, making the move to Nottingham from Edinburgh and also playing in some of the world’s biggest rugby tournaments.

Chris recalled how he would get nervous before big games and worried he would drop the ball on TV or trip up the steps at the old Twickenham to get on to the field of play. Chris also shared some funny anecdotes from his playing days to the Club Members including his time playing in Japan, where at 6"5 the locals kept asking for photos with him, not due to Rugby but due to his height.

The Beeston Club Members really enjoyed listening to Chris speak about his exploits in Rugby and had many questions for him, notably about his cauliflower ears, opposing players biting his ears in the scrum and his favourite place to play rugby – which was New Zealand!

Sharing the experience

Chris also brought along some of the memorabilia from his playing days, including one of his caps for Scotland, which was well received by the Club Members before they all gave him a round of applause for coming along to the session.

In the final part of the session, the Club Members found out if their guesses were close in the Spot The Ball game, as well as taking part in a range of activities including Boccia, giant Jenga and a marble game brought in by Club Member Don and his wife.

Reflecting on the day, Kelly commented: “A big thank you to Chris and all the volunteers and members for making it a great session at Beeston.

“Chris was brilliant in telling us about his rugby playing days as well as being a dentist! We were all impressed with his beautiful Scotland Cap as part of his memorabilia and the members enjoyed listening to and asking questions.”

“Also from my perspective, it was lovely to visit the Club and see the positive impact it is making on those that attend as well as their loved ones.”

If you would like to find out more about our Beeston Club, please get in touch with Justine via

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