Building a Sporting Memories home in Somerset

Sporting Memories has strong connections in the cricketing world, running a number of sessions across England thanks to the support of Sussex, Essex and Lancashire’s Cricket Foundation, and more recently with Somerset Cricket Foundation.

Steve Gass is the Community Programmes Manager at Somerset Cricket Foundation, and we caught up with Steve to find out more about the his cohort at their Club based at the home of Uphill Castle CC.

Steve began by explaining how he was inspired him to explore Sporting Memories within Somerset thanks to that network of Clubs held at other county cricket foundations.

“I’d been made aware of Sporting Memories a little while before we eventually set up the Club, as I had spoken to other cricket counties who had set up their own sessions, so I was keen to get with our version started here in Somerset.

“An organisation called Voluntary Action North Somerset (VANS), who do a lot of great things across North Somerset, had a small grant open for projects that specifically work with men in the area, so we felt that Sporting Memories was a great fit to bring men, particularly older men, together as a lot of community groups tend to attract more women than men.

“By adding the sporting context to the group, we believed it would encourage older men from the local area to come and chat, so we put the two together and applied for the funding, secured the funding, and then set about starting the project!

“We also work closely with Uphill Castle Cricket Club, particularly on our disability programmes, so we approached them to see if they would take on hosting Sporting Memories for us, and they had a volunteer in Dave Kelly, who said he would help Nathan Rose from our team to run the session and it’s been going strong ever since.”

Steve highlighted the efforts of Dave and Nathan who have been stalwarts of the Club and have proved a valuable support network that has enabled friendships between members to blossom.

“They’ve been running the sessions for almost a year now and haven’t missed a single one, so I’d like to thank them for their efforts making them so enjoyable for those that come along.

“Nathan and David help to provide structure for the sessions, it’s got to the point now where the members dictate where the sessions go and what topics or activities they do, which is great to see.

“Members regularly say ‘can I do a quiz?’ or ‘can I do a presentation on a sporting topic’ - so it shows that they are really engaged with the Club and wanting to make it enjoyable for themselves and their fellow members.

“They’ve also got their own WhatsApp group and that’s often busy throughout the week with the guys chatting to each other, which keeps them all connected outside of the session. And I know that some of the members have also met up away from the sessions, so it shows how friendships have developed off of it.”

Steve went on to further explain how the Sporting Memories session has developed for members since its launch, including the element of sporting and physical activities undertaken alongside their usual discussions.

“When we started the Club, each session would last 90 minutes, but due to the demand from the members it has now been extended to two hours. The sessions normally start with a chat amongst the group on a particular sporting topic or something that’s happened in the sporting world recently, then it moves onto doing some physical activity which they all seem to enjoy.

“The great thing about the venue at Uphill Castle is that they have plenty of resources and space available, so for example the Cricket Club has a pool table, a darts board and a nice indoor space where the guys can play the likes of indoor curling or boccia. When the weather is nice there is two cricket pitches at the venue where the Club members can go for a walk around the boundaries or play sports outside such as Cricket or Golf – so there is plenty of opportunities for them all to get active during their time with us.”

Finally, we finished our time with Steve by discussing the future of Sporting Memories with Somerset Cricket Foundation, with exciting times ahead thanks to support from one of Somerset County Cricket Club’s (CCC) partners.

“Our plan is to keep the Club running in its current format as it seems to be working well and we were thrilled recently to receive support from Eurilait, who are partners of Somerset CCC.

“They have recently provided us with a generous donation that will allow us to continue to run the Club as it is for another 12 months as well as funding for opening up another Sporting Memories Club, which could open at Bridgwater Cricket Club - so it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to continue the current session but also grow our Sporting Memories network.”

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