Gilvenback in style - we speak to our volunteer John!

John Brown

Ahead of our inaugural Scottish Volunteer Awards, being hosted at the home of Livingston FC on Thursday 28 April, we’re speaking to some of our amazing volunteers in Scotland that make our clubs possible.

Sponsored by Iron Mountain amongst others, the awards evening will celebrate the fantastic efforts and achievements of our volunteers who have gone above and beyond to keep our clubs running during the Covid-19 pandemic, but to also highlight how volunteers can make a difference to the lives of older people across Scotland.

We caught up with volunteer John Brown who currently supports our club run at Gilvenbank Community Health Hub, as he detailed his journey to becoming a part of the Sporting Memories Family.

“I moved to Burntisland two years ago, and I saw an advert for a Sporting Memories club down the high street one day and I thought ‘you know what, I’m going to attend that’ – and I like the idea about it of talking about sport.

“I know Gary (Waddell) from way back and after the first session he said to me, I don’t need you to attend – I need you to volunteer! And I was absolutely delighted to volunteer as it was something which sparked a passion in me.”

Since then John has switched from our former club in Burntisland to one our most recently opened clubs in Gilvenbank. But for John, regardless of which club he has been at, he has always kept the same feeling of being part of the charity.

“It’s never been a chore to volunteer, it has been an absolute delight. I get a buzz on a Thursday morning about what we’re going to do at the session.

“I’ve succeeded if we can have a blether, a laugh and a cup of tea during our time together whilst chatting about sport and reminiscence about times gone by.

John believes the clubs have a great impact on the members who attend.

“I think the members get camaraderie out of the session with their fellow members. Also, I think they get out of the house and out of their normal routine and environment, which I think is massively important for their mental health.

“We also one member who has Tommy Gemmill’s shorts from Celtic’s 1967 European Cup and he brought them to a session recently and it brought a tear to some of the members’ eyes – remembering that moment all those years ago. That member was happy to share that with the members and that shows how members can come out of their comfort zones and enjoy their time at the club weekly.

“There are so many stories the members have and that is why I’m there, to listen to their stories, to help them share and to have a bit of fun along the way. Also as well, for some of the members who are living with dementia and other long-term conditions, we’re also giving their carers and loved-ones an important bit of respite as well and that means a lot to people as well.”

Ahead of the awards recognising our brilliant volunteers, John had a message to those who wish to volunteer for us in the future.

“I would say the Sporting Memories team are a like a family, they’re very tight knit and they are always there to support you when you need it.

“I would ask them (potential volunteers) to come along to a session – the proof of the pudding is seeing the sessions in action. When you see the fun and enjoyment members get out the sessions you know it is worthwhile to be a part of. Come along and be part of it is what I say.”

Find out more about how you can volunteer for Sporting Memories here.

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We’re always on the lookout for volunteers to help run our clubs all across England, Scotland and Wales – find out more here.

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Our impact

Reducing Isolation

Bringing older people together to reduce isolation and loneliness

Mental Wellbeing

Supporting older people to improve their mental wellbeing

Physical Wellbeing

Getting older people active to live healthier lifestyles

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