How two local football legends’ lives are transformed by golf in their battle with dementia
I’m incredibly proud to share this story with you. In recent weeks, the link between dementia and football has, quite rightly, been in the spotlight. Our governing bodies need to do more to support footballers with dementia. Whilst we cannot offer a cure for this terrible disease, we prove how sport, especially golf, can play a part in creating better outcomes when dementia tries to put an end to a sporting life. The determination to provide more families with the chance to keep that sporting spark in their life burns brighter than ever today. I hope you enjoy the story and help us raise awareness about our pioneering work.
More Than A Game is the incredible short film on how golf is helping transform the lives of two ex-professional footballers living with dementia.
Club record goal scorer, Jim Hague, and towering centre back, Fergus Donaldson are now in their 60s and 70s, but need no introduction to any seasoned Harrogate Town FC fan.
Their heart-warming story brings attention to the link between dementia and football that affects not just world winning heroes like Bobby and Jack Charlton, but also potentially thousands of ex-professionals from that era and how golf can be a solution to the growing dementia crisis.
A 2019 landmark research project reported that former professional footballers are three and a half times more likely to suffer from dementia, and other serious neurological disease, confirming a long-suspected link between the sport and brain damage. The 22-month research project by the University of Glasgow’s Brain Injury Group also discovered there was a five-fold increase in the risk of Alzheimer’s, a four-fold increase in motor neurone disease, and a two-fold increase in Parkinson’s.
Transforming lives through golf
Golf In Society founder Anthony Blackburn, is on a mission to help transform the lives of an ageing population by introducing them to the health and wellbeing benefits of golf. Anthony and his team have delivered over 600 sessions across the UK supporting families facing challenges in later life including dementia, Parkinson’s, stroke and loneliness.
Jim and Ferg are just two of hundreds of people living with chronic illnesses whose lives have been transformed by Anthony’s Golf In Society sessions which gives them the opportunity to keep that “sporting spark” in their lives.
Anthony says: “It’s interesting that most of the people we support have enjoyed sport throughout their lives, however not always golf. What we do is extend people’s enjoyment of life and show them how golf can be their new sporting fix”.
Raising awareness of the global problem
Teaming up with Albatross Media, they have created a short documentary called ‘More Than A Game’ to showcase the incredible results Golf In Society is achieving at their various golf venues across the country.
“I hope the story of Jim and Ferg acts as a call to action to our health & social care stakeholders, political leaders, the golf industry and society as a whole as to how golf can play a leading role in improving the lives of our ageing nation.
“With the right support, our mission can be fast-tracked and the outcome will be more families benefiting from services like Golf In Society sooner than we imagined.
“If we’re serious as a nation about improving the health & wellbeing of families living with dementia, then services like ours, designed with our customers at the heart of them have got to be more widely adopted”
But the question I really wants to know the answer to is, after watching the film do you think that golf sessions like this should be made available to support more families living with dementia in the UK?
Anthony Blackburn – Founder