End of a Dedicated Era:

At Sporting Memories we always try to recognise and celebrate the contributions of our ‘unsung heroes’ - the volunteers and helpers. They add a richness to each club and help build the community spirit and make each club a more welcoming space for the older sports fans. 

At our Calderwood Club in East Kilbride, we had the pleasure of the company of Mr & Mrs Jimmy Neville since its inception almost nine years ago. There are two heartwarming stories involving the Neville’s that need to be shared as examples of how much Sporting Memories means to members and how much value some spouses of our members find. 

A weekly contribution  

Jimmy was a founder member of the club and continued to attend every week despite his failing health until he passed away a couple of years ago. He was always accompanied by his wife Janette who dropped him off along with a tray of home-bakes for the members. Even after Jimmy passed, Janette continued to drop of a batch of cakes every week and stop to say hello. 

However, Janette, now in her seventies, has decided it is time to pack up her pinnie and put away the mixer and has dropped off her last batch of goodies. Norrie Gallagher, one of our volunteers said: “Everyone past and present are full of gratitude for her contributions. It’s safe to say certain individuals will be more lost than others due to the quantity of cakes they consumed. 

Deepfelt thanks Janette from everyone associated with Sporting Memories in East Kilbride for these past nine years.” 

A wonderful lady - not an official volunteer - just someone who appreciated how much the club meant to her husband and other members. In fact, the club was responsible for some quite astounding moments from Jimmy.  

Sport unleashing its magical powers 

A few years back the club had planned an activity with East Kilbride Cricket Club, but unfortunately it was cancelled as no club representative showed up. Determined not to be beaten, the members approached the coach at the kids football summer camp across at the other end of the local park. They were happy to invite the Sporting Memories group over to play some fun games and drills with the kids. 

It's significant to point out that the group had to walk from the Sports Club over to the Park which in itself was a huge challenge for some of our participants. Particularly Jimmy who had to be helped over by two of our volunteers. Given how he was walking you would never have thought he could continue to stand never mind play a game of football with young kids. It is therefore more amazing when you consider what happened next. 

Jimmy fully participated in the football session, playing passing games with the kids and taking penalties. We all observed how he just came to life when the ball was at his feet and he was keen to show that he hadn't lost his touch. He played for about 30 minutes that morning and moved around chasing the ball. You could see he was feeding off the enthusiasm of the young kids! And then of course Jimmy had to walk back across to the sports club which effectively meant he participated in almost an hour of physical activity that morning. His daughter remarked that night that he was "knackered " but told her gleefully what he'd been up to that day. 

Bowls was another favourite activity of Jimmy’s having played for 30 years and enjoyed the sport, particularly the competitive aspect of local competition. It had been around 15 years since he last played as ill health meant he had to withdraw from the sport and his local club. 

In the October after Jimmy’s footballing exploits, we partnered up with Bowls Scotland to run a carpet bowls activity and once again Jimmy surprised us with his ability and intention to compete with the others. Despite feeling particularly weak that morning, having to be helped up by two helpers to stand and walk across to the mat, Jimmy took part in the competition. Just look at how he plays his shots - bending down, rolling the bowl and playing with great confidence. Jimmy said at the time “I used to love playing bowls” 

We salute the late Jimmy Neville and his wonderful widow, Janette. 

Comments: 1 (Add)

June Daly on October 5 2023

Hi Norrie, I’m Jimmy & Janette’s daughter. I would like to thank you for the fitting tribute you paid to both Mum & Dad. My Dad fought his illness with such determination and hence why he pushed himself to achieve the small things like a kick about or a game of bowls in the latter months of his illness. Mum is a wee trooper and took great care of him in the 13 years after his diagnosis. Thank you again…BTW Mum is only 79 so I would duck the next time you see her.


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