Bringing the positivity of volunteering to Preston

The Sporting Memories Club in Preston has been a huge success since it launched in 2019, with over 40 members in attendance at the weekly sessions held within the Tom Finney Stand at Deepdale. 

They use a blend of special guests, quizzes and a range of activities to keep their members engaged and during Volunteers Week, we caught up with Jo Harwood, who supports the club as a trained volunteer, and Malcolm Rae who attends regularly and supports the running of group on an ad-hoc basis, to find out more about the Club.

Jo started attended the club as a member with her late husband as she began: “In 2019, they set up the Sporting Memories Group and at that time I was a carer for my husband, so I used to take him along to the sessions every week as we both enjoyed sports.

“My husband lived with Parkinson’s and Dementia, so for him sharing memories of sports was good and for me meeting other carers and speaking with other people away from home meant I could have conversations that perhaps I was missing throughout the day.

“Even though my husband passed away, I felt it was important to keep going to the sessions and I have developed friendships and reconnected with people I know previously or knew of, which have helped me get through that difficult time.”

For Malcolm, who has been a member before the Covid-19 pandemic, he shared the same sentiments with Jo about developing connections and finding a place where he was welcomed alongside his wife.

“Getting together with like-minded people is nice, we mainly chat about sport and soccer, since we’re based at Preston North End, but I also try to champion other sports too, for example Rugby League as I’m a big fan of that.

“I take my wife, who is living with dementia, along to the sessions as well. Sometimes it can be challenging to convince her to come but that is the nature of her living with the illness. One of the other aspects of the Club is that there are a lot of carers who attend, so it’s a bond and activity we can share with others who are perhaps in a similar situation.”

Jo made the transition from Club member to volunteer just over a couple of years ago and we asked how her role has changed within the weekly sessions.

“Volunteering has meant that I have got more involved, from creating the themes and topics of discussions to helping others create quizzes and all the other things in between.

“We have a wide range of volunteers from those who like their roles, for example making the teas and coffees and washing up, another volunteer who gets all the equipment out and then we have volunteers like myself and another couple who develop and produce the activities for members to do each week.

“The great thing about volunteering and Sporting Memories is that you’ll meet people with a common interest of sport, so you feel connected and part of a community.”

Malcolm was quick to praise the efforts of all the Preston Club’s volunteers, along with the staff at Preston North End’s Community and Education Trust.

“I think the volunteers are critical to the Club and they’re very good at supporting everything that goes on. They give up their time for us every week and all have great personalities which helps everyone settle in and enjoy themselves.

“Some of the volunteers and staff also undertake other activities in the local area, which is a nice way of connecting people away from Sporting Memories to keep them active and interested in doing other things throughout their week. Everyone wants to feel loved and included and that’s what the Club does.”

As it’s Volunteers Week during the first week of June, we asked both Jo and Malcolm on why people should volunteer for Sporting Memories and the impact it can have on the lives of people in their local communities.

Jo started by explaining how volunteering can provide a pathway for those who have a passion for sport: “The great thing about volunteering and Sporting Memories, is that you’ll meet people with a common interest of sport, and so you feel connected and part of a community, which perhaps can be difficult to feel when at home.

“I think connecting people back into an activity within the local community is massively important and can be reflected in the popularity of Sporting Memories at Deepdale.”

Malcolm offered his thoughts by stating: “A lot of the volunteers were people that started off as attendees, which shows how the club engages people.

“I try to entice and encourage people to come along wherever I go, and I say to people that I find it unmissable – that’s how good it is. I point out that the club is fun and how it’s benefitted me and my wife. It’s an opportunity for those that enjoyed sport, either playing or watching, to engage with it again.”

The Sporting Memories Club, operated by Preston North End Community and Education Trust, runs every Tuesday between 11am to 12:30pm within Deepdale Stadium. For more information on how to join contact

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