By John Lyons
THE family of England’s 1966 World Cup hero Ray Wilson are urging football fans to get behind the Dementia Friends campaign.
The 81-year-old, who starred at left-back for Huddersfield and Everton as well as the Three Lions in his successful playing career, is one of 850,000 people living in the UK with dementia. It also affects his fellow World Cup winners Martin Peters and Nobby Stiles.
Now, the Alzheimer’s Society is teaming up with football clubs across the country on their Dementia Friends campaign.
The UK’s leading dementia charity is asking all 111 Premier League and English Football League and Women’s Super League clubs across England and Wales to run Dementia Friends information sessions.
In the first campaign of its kind, the society is working to ensure football clubs are places where people with dementia and their carers feel understood and included and to tackle the social isolation that often follows a diagnosis.
Wilson’s wife Pat said: “Ray might be living with dementia but he still really loves going to watch football matches because the game is in his blood.
“He goes to Huddersfield games with our son, and like most fans he’ll kick and head every ball and make every tackle in his mind because he’s so passionate.
“Sometimes we noticed fans sat around him were a bit taken aback by some of the things he says and his actions, but the more aware of his dementia they’ve become, the more understanding they’ve been, which is really nice and comforting for the whole family.”
There are 1.7 million Dementia Friends and the Alzheimer’s Society wants to reach four million people by 2020. Clubs across the nation, such as League Two outfit Leyton Orient, are showing their support by staging Dementia Friends sessions.
Phillip Smith, Leyton Orient’s health and wellbeing activator, said: “We are dedicated to improving and supporting the health of our fans and local community members.
“We want to ensure that fans living with dementia can continue to engage with the club both on match days and within our community sessions, too.”
For more details, go to DementiaFriends.org.uk