A volunteer for Preston North End Community and Education Trust’s Sporting Memories programme, Malcolm Rae is one of 12 people who stars in the club’s season card promotional video for the 2021/22 season – all of whom have been positively impacted by or contributed to the Trust’s work over the past 18 months.
The Sporting Memories programme was set-up at Preston North End in October 2019 and is designed to support those living with dementia, depression and loneliness, as well as their families, through engaging discussions, reminiscence sessions, light physical activity and much more – albeit, all via Zoom since last March’s initial lockdown.
As a volunteer on the project, Malcolm contributes to the planning and running of sessions – now taking place from 11am until 12.30pm every Tuesday, with anyone welcome to join the wide-ranging discussions about sport and otherwise.
Malcolm’s passion for Sporting Memories stems from his lifelong support of Preston North End, and he can recall first attending a match at Deepdale – a regular occurrence for him ever since – at a young age.
“I came with my grandad when I was seven or eight,” Malcolm recalled. “You were almost sat on the touchline! We’d put a mat down and sit on that.
“We’d get there a bit early and collect autographs, because in those days, the players used to walk to the ground. A lot of my school mates and friends were passionate North Enders from a very early age.
“We were in the first division then and had some of the best players in the country – Sir Tom Finney, Charlie Wayman, Jimmy Baxter, Tommy Docherty. We got the bug very early on.”
Malcolm’s support has resumed in various formats, whether home or away, meeting with friends or bringing his daughter to Deepdale.
He also has a longstanding role in hospital radio on home matchdays at Deepdale, which saw Malcom meet Martin Atherton, the Trust’s lead Sporting Memories volunteer and also club statistician, leading to his involvement with the project supporting those living with dementia, depression and loneliness.
“It was Martin Atherton who mentioned it to me and I’d read about it,” Malcolm said of first becoming involved in Sporting Memories. “My background is in healthcare and I’ve always been interested in adapting sport to healthcare provision.
“I thought it was perfect timing; I’d just retired from a charity I’d set-up, State of Mind Sport. We used to try to tackle stigma by utilising the power of sport. It’s been a natural move for me to get involved with Sporting Memories.
“I went to a couple of meetings at Finney House and then started to get involved when it was held in the Players’ Lounge, which I thought was a great magnet for people to attend.
“It seemed to be a really good initiative and I was so enamoured with it, I was keen to engage some of my mates. I wanted to share the benefits and pleasure I got from it among my friends. A lot of my friends share my positivity about it.
“It combats isolation, it’s a great way of connecting with others, and it’s healthy in terms of pleasure with reminiscence, recalling fond memories, and doing it in a modern setting.”
Despite primarily being a part of Sporting Memories in a volunteering capacity, Malcolm still feels he benefits from the group himself, and through his involvement with it, he has been pleased to become more aware of the work being undertaken in Preston and the surrounding areas by PNECET.
“I gain anticipation from it and I look forward to it, with a little bit of preparation depending on what the theme is,” he continued.
“It’s a fabulous group; there’s a lot of experience, a lot of knowledge, and a lot of humour, which is a factor in wellbeing. It gives that purpose, connection with others, and the opportunity to learn.
“I’m mindful, too, that people who volunteer live longer. It’s a real good ingredient in maintaining one’s own wellbeing and that connection with others.
“Since I’ve become involved, I’ve become aware of what the Community and Education Trust do and its range of activities. I feel a certain pride that the club I’ve supported all my life is doing good in the community and I was thrilled to bits when the Trust won the North West Football Award for Community Club of the Season.
“It gives me a sense of pride that my team are up there as an esteemed organisation in the world of sport, which is why I’m keen to promote it.”
For more information about the Sporting Memories programme, email firstname.lastname@example.org.