A SPORTING memories group is being launched for older people to reminisce about events from the past they competed in or watched.

The group is for people with dementia, and anyone else who wants to share memories of Bradford and its sporting past.

James Mason, former Chief Operating Officer at Bradford City, is setting up the Bradford Memories cafe in association with Pathways, which supports people with dementia and their families. He plans to set up tours of sports clubs and grounds in the district.

“My mother was diagnosed with dementia six years ago and when it came to looking at groups she could go to, the difficulty was finding regular events within reasonable distance that didn’t focus overly on dementia,” said Mr Mason. “Mum lived near Bradford Park Avenue as a girl and I’ve noticed her come alive when she sees pictures of the club, and her parents there. Sporting memories mean a lot to people, whether they took part or were spectators. Some people may have had a parent who worked at a sports club.

“This group will give people chance to share memories of happy times - not just of sport but of work, holidays, growing up and living in Bradford. It will offer a supportive environment for people with dementia and their families and carers, but it’s not just for people with dementia. Anyone is welcome. We want the group to provide much-needed respite for carers too.”

The group will be launched on May 8 at Napoleons Casino and Restaurant in Bradford, where it will meet every Wednesday, 11am to 1pm. “The aim is to visit sports locations, such as the City and Bulls grounds. It would be great to hear from any sports clubs that could host us,” said Mr Mason. “Sporting memorabilia or photographs would also be welcome.

"John Dewhirst and Jason McKeown, who have written books about Bradford City, have been helping out with things like programmes from past games."

Mr Mason, who runs Five Nine Agency, has been raising funds for the Sporting Memories Cafe through events including a City players' dinner. Future fundraisers include cricket broadcaster Henry Blofeld at Napoleons on August 21. "The Sporting Memories Foundation has given us guidance and a framework for sessions, and we're grateful to Napoleons for giving us a meeting place free of charge," he said. "This group will be delivered by volunteers, expertise and donations."

Also supporting the group are former Bradford City star Allan Gilliver and his wife, Chris. Allan, known as Gilly, was nicknamed Mr Bradford City; he worked at the club in various roles after retiring from football. In 2013 he was diagnosed with dementia.

"I met Chris through Pathways and she introduced me to Clare Mason, who runs the Bradford group and works with the University of Bradford's Dementia Studies department," said Mr Mason. "We're holding a training session on Tuesday at Napoleons, 10am-3pm, for anyone who would like to get involved with Sporting Memories as a volunteer."

* For more information email James Mason at info@fivenineagency.co.uk or Matt Pennington at matt@thesms.co.uk