Former Walsall manager Chris Nicholl opened the club’s brand new Dementia Café at the Banks’s Stadium last Thursday.
The monthly café, run by Walsall FC Community Programme in partnership with Accord Age Matters and Birmingham County FA, focuses on football memories.
The initiative is being piloted with six two-hour sessions taking place in the Walsall FC Community Room, on the first Thursday of the month.
Nicholl, who lives with dementia, met the participants and staff as well as looking through some of the Saddlers memorabilia on show.
The 73-year-old’s plight was highlighted as part of Alan Shearer’s ‘Football, Dementia and Me’ BBC documentary in 2017.
Chris Springthorpe, Health Officer at Walsall FC Community Programme, said: “The launch of our café brought together families living with dementia, the club and external partners.
"It was great to have Chris Nicholl attend, and open, the café and the atmosphere was buoyant all afternoon.
“As part of my new role as Health Officer, I am relishing the challenge of growing the café, over the period of the pilot sessions, and ensure that it is sustainable on an ongoing basis because that will mean that we are able to support football fans and families that are living with dementia.
"I urge as many people as possible to share the details of the café and look forward to growing the attendance over the next few months.
“We are proud, as a club, to continue to grow and develop our community initiatives to make a positive change to lives of residents across the Borough.”
Saddlers fan Phil Roberts, who was the first to attend the café with his father David, loves the idea.
“Hopefully it’s something he’s really going to enjoy,” Phil said.
“We found out about eight months ago that my dad was diagnosed with dementia and to be honest the only thing he talks about is Walsall Football Club.
“He carries his season ticket around with him day and night and he’s been a season ticket holder for 65 years plus.
“Talking to him and hearing the memories that he shares is nice, and so is bringing him here and mixing with people that can talk about football with him.
Chris Saunders, from Wiltshire Farm Foods, donated several cakes to help support the café’s launch.
He said: “Being a Walsall fan I did know about the Community Programme and to hear they were doing this was great.
“So I thought I could give a few free cakes for everybody to enjoy. It’s the town where I was brought up and the town I grew up in and now I’ve got the ability to give a bit back.”
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