Memories of London 2012 to be used to help tackle loneliness after £50,000 funding win

IMAGES of the London 2012 Olympics etched into the memories of generations of sports fans will be used by a North Yorkshire based charity to tackle loneliness in older people.

Evocative memories of the London 2012 Olympics, like medals for Sheffield's Jessica Ennis-Hill, and Jade Jones, below, and the opening ceremony, will be explored. Photo Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

The Sporting Memories Network, which was co-founded by former Topcliffe psychiatric nurse Tony Jameson-Allen, uses traditional reminiscence techniques as a tool while working with the lonely and those suffering from depression or dementia.

It has been awarded almost £50,000 to fund a new project that will bring together children from schools and youth organisations across the UK with older people to capture memories of London 2012, other Olympics and Paralympic Games.

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Pilot projects will take place in Glasgow, East Lothian and Bristol, and then the memories collected will be used in projects supporting older people across the UK, including in Leeds and with other Yorkshire groups, Mr Jameson-Allen said.

File photo dated 27/07/12 of Fireworks mark the opening of the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday December 16, 2012. It was six weeks which changed lives and perceptions. It brought 29 gold medals and 65 medals in all for Great Britain at the London Olympics and a further 34 golds and 120 medals in total at the Paralympics. It was the summer which illustrated the power of sport. See PA story SPORT Christmas Olympics Review. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Volunteers will be trained to run Sporting Memories activities that will use London 2012 as a focus for triggering memories of Games gone by.

Funding for project has come from the Big Lottery Fund’s Spirit of 2012 fund, which tackles isolation by supporting those providing opportunities in sports, the arts and volunteering.

Sporting Memories Network co-founder Chris Wilkins said: “We are thrilled to be able to launch what promises to be a fantastic project that will unite generations. There were so many memories made at London 2012 and the chance to work with schools and younger volunteers from the Youth Sport Trust to make sure those memories can be enjoyed for years to come is very exciting.

“Thanks to this funding from Spirit of 2012 we can ensure the legacy of the games can make a real difference. ”

File photo dated 09/08/2012 of Great Britain's Jade Jones celebrates winning in her Women's -57kg Semi-Final. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday December 16, 2012. Wales teenager Jade Jones kicked her way to Olympic glory and Lutalo Muhammad delivered a bronze medal to give British Taekwondo some welcome positive headlines at London 2012. See PA story SPORT Christmas Olympics Taekwando. Photo credit should read: Rebecca Naden/PA Wire

The Network, which has ran projects in York, Kirklees and Sheffield, and also ran dementia friendly sessions during the Grand Depart in Yorkshire, has had high profile backing from Olympic and Paralympic stars Sir Steve Redgrave, Dr Katherine Grainger and David Weir, and health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

He said: “Coming together to share and celebrate sporting achievement can transform the lives of millions affected by loneliness and mental ill-health. This is an excellent example of how every one of us can help to combat loneliness and illnesses like dementia - I look forward to seeing how this project progresses.”