Foundation mark Dementia Action Week

For several years now, Wolves Foundation have hosted a ‘Molineux Memories’ group for people with their dementia and their carers, ensuring they were able to meet people with similar interests in a social and enjoyable atmosphere.

The initiative, set up in partnership with the Black Country NHS team from Blakenhall Centre, would normally see the group meet each week at Molineux, carrying out a host of different activities or discussions whilst overlooking the hallowed turf of the pitch.

However, the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic put paid to those weekly meetings in person, but to try and reduce any negative effects of missing out on the group, the Foundation have stayed in regular touch with Molineux Memories participants and kept them heavily involved via several different initiatives.

This week is Dementia Action Week, run by the Alzheimer’s Society which this year is aiming to highlight the need to improve the social care system for those suffering from dementia and their carers.

In their own small way, working with the Black Country NHS team, Wolves Foundation are trying to do their bit via Molineux Memories which has proved extremely successful in offering care and support.

Take for example the wonderful story of Edna, aged 90, and her husband Nathan, 83.

As with other participants, Foundation staff have been calling the couple every week during the pandemic, to have a catch-up and check on their welfare.

They have been married for 47 years having met in the same street as they were bringing up children from previous marriages.

Health officer Steve Maiden takes up the story.

“They first met when Nathan went over the road to ask Edna if she could change a note for some coins for his children’s dinner money to take to school,” he says.

“Both are lifelong Wolves fans with Nathan having been on the club’s schoolboy books playing in goal at Under 15/16 level, whilst Edna worked for a particularly famous goalkeeper – Bert Williams – whom they both became close friends with.

“Edna then went on to work as a post-lady for many years.

“Unfortunately they suffered the loss of their son Les, a Wolves fanatic who worshipped the team and followed them all over the country.

“His ashes are buried in the Billy Wright Garden at Molineux, and they visit his resting place every week when they are able to attend Molineux Memories.

“It was five years ago that Edna was diagnosed with dementia and, with the help of the NHS, was referred to Molineux Memories to attend the weekly sessions on Thursday afternoons.

“During the lockdown we have kept in touch with Edna and Nathan on a weekly basis making sure they have all the support that they need.”

Nathan adds: “Molineux Memories offers a chance for Edna to stimulate her memory and she becomes more vocal when talking about past Wolves games and players.

“She enjoys the companionship that the club brings, particularly the quizzes, and can’t wait for everyone to be back together again.

“We are truly grateful for people keeping in touch with us over the last year, and would like to thank everyone for their help.”

Tim Spiers, reporter with The Athletic, visited one of the Molineux Memories sessions shortly before Christmas, 2019, during which participants took part in a quiz.

He found Edna in good form.

“If it isn’t about the Wolves, it don’t matter,” Edna said whilst discussing the questions, in her note-perfect Black Country accent.

She, and presumably still now, also couldn’t bring herself to utter the name of Wolves’ local rivals, although very soon someone else in the room mentioned the word ‘Albion’.

“You’ve said it again,” she bemoaned, gently shaking her head.

One of Edna’s colleagues in the group, Jim, started boisterously belting out a rendition of White Christmas, for which he received plenty of plaudits, and applause.

Apart from via Edna.

“Somebody’s strangling a cat,” she responded.

All of which offered a sign of the spirit and camaraderie which exists within Molineux Memories and why it is so important.

Along with the weekly calls made to those in the group, the Foundation also organised a Pen Pal scheme where participants would receive letters from local schoolchildren.

Also just before Christmas, the Pen Pal scheme was revisited to include some sweet treats from club partners Cadbury which were delivered to Molineux Memories participants along with the letters and also a message from Wolves captain and England international Conor Coady.

“So many people have been affected by lockdown and the pandemic, and we know that Molineux Memories had become such a vital part of the week for the participants and their carers,” says the Foundation’s health & wellbeing manager, Rachel Smith.

“It is such a vibrant group and you can see the benefits that everyone used to get out of coming to the regular sessions in such a social and friendly environment.

“We have done everything we can to keep the participants engaged during such a challenging time during the pandemic, but I know everyone is looking forward to the day when we can once again welcome everyone back to Molineux and restart the group on a face-to-face basis.”

One of Edna’s colleagues in the group, Jim, started boisterously belting out a rendition of White Christmas, for which he received plenty of plaudits, and applause.

To find out more about Molineux Memories please email or follow @wwfcfoundation for regular updates about the Foundation’s projects.