Academy of Sport - Acadamaidh Spòrs Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann

Sport, sporting memories and the Western Isles

Sporting Memories Project in the Western Isles

sporting memories project in western isles

New project to bring back sporting memories

Island photographs sought for national dementia initiative

Three national sporting bodies and two national sports museums have come together to set up a network of more than 100 volunteers to deliver a community based and nationwide sports reminiscence project for vulnerable people living with dementia and other forms of memory loss or experiencing loneliness and isolation.

The Sports Heritage Scotland project, which has four funding partners – Museums & Galleries Scotland, Football Memories, Bòrd na Gàidhlig and the Scottish Football Museum – was launched at Hampden Park in March by Aileen Campbell, Scottish Government Minister for Public Health and Sport. Dr Adele Patrick of Museum & Galleries Scotland and Robert Craig, chairman of Sport Heritage Scotland.    Over the course of 2017- 2018, the collaborative reminiscence project will create and establish a minimum of 30 reminiscence groups for shinty, golf, rugby, and cricket. These groups will be supported by the already established Football Memories Scotland network.

The group's organisers have stated that hosting memories groups on the west coast and in the islands would be one of their key aims.

The project's resources manager, Dr Hugh Dan MacLennan of the Global Academy of Sport at the University of Edinburgh, said: "The project has two key aims. Firstly, to support groups helping people who are living with dementia, using sporting memories as a key tool in their recovery and support; and secondly to archive the nation's sporting heritage, initially through images and photos, but also capturing the oral traditions relating to sport wherever it was played and in whatever form.

"We know that shinty, for example, has a very rich tradition in many parts of the Western lsles, but photographs of people playing are quite rare.

"We would be delighted to hear from anyone who could help and would be keen to support any groups which could be set up in the area to help collect material. I am sure that the Comainn Eachdraidh have already looked at some aspects of this and we would be keen to hear from any who have sporting memories."   A parallel digitisation programme will create a digital archive for golf, shinty, rugby and cricket which will supply resources to the reminiscence project whilst preserving and safeguarding sports heritage for future generations.

These digital collections will, at the end of the project, be placed under the custodianship of each national sporting body or museum with images specific to the 1940 to 1990 'reminiscence time frame' being uploaded onto a Sports Heritage Scotland website alongside the existing digital archive for football.

It is hoped that with the identification of appropriate resources, the archival aspects of the project will be extended back in time to cover the origins and development of the sports, as well as the more modern period from 1990 onwards.

The Sports Heritage Scotland website. (, which will also serve to highlight and promote the heritage of the six SHS member sports (football, shinty, rugby, cricket, golf and curling) can be viewed in English and Gaelic.

Group resource packs will be created to nurture the development of the golf,rugby, shinty and cricket memories groups and to further support the range of reminiscence activities available within the existing Football Memories network.

The shinty resource packs and volunteer induction packs will be provided in Gaelic and English for volunteers.

The Project Partners are for football – Scottish Football Museum; golf – British Golf Museum; shinty –  Camanachd Association; rugby – Scottish Rugby; and cricket – Cricket Scotland.

A sixth sport, curling, will feature on the Sports Heritage Scotland website but is not involved in the proposed reminiscence project or digitisation programme.

A digitisation officer Lindsay Hamilton, has been appointed to undertake the digitisation of images for the various sports and she works from the project's base in Hampden Park.

Hugh Dan Maclennan added: "We have established very ambitious targets for our first year of operation with the four sports, rugby, golf, cricket and shinty.

"Alongside the existing Football Memories network of reminiscence groups establish a network of 30 sports reminiscence groups - five for cricket, five for shinty, eight for golf and 12 for rugby. Alongside the existing digital archive for football, we aim to create a digital archive of 5,000 images relating to the four participating sports and upload all relevant 1940 to 1990 'reminiscence timeframe' images onto the Sports Heritage Scotland website.

"We have also budgeted for creating a surplus supply of reminiscence resource packs in order to ensure that we are adequately resourced to support groups, within the lifespan of the project, in the expectation that we exceed our minimum target and, indeed, can continue to expand the number of reminiscence groups beyond the formal conclusion of the project by having additional resource packs available.

"Above and beyond the existing football reminiscence groups we have therefore budgeted for 70 resource packs for the other sports reminiscence groups, which is more than double the minimum project target of 30.

"We have determined the number of project volunteers (104) based on the foUowing: Reminiscence Project - 30 groups with two volunteers per group equals 60 volunteers.

"Digitisation Programme – four sports involved (cricket, shinty, golf and rugby) with 10 volunteers per sport equals 40 volunteers.

"Finally, one lead volunteer for each of the four sports who will support the work of the reminiscence and digitisation coordinators equals four lead volunteers. Work will begin on setting this up immediately and we will be offering training for everyone concerned."

If you have any images which you think could contribute to the memories project and could be included in the sports archive, relating to 1940-90 in the first instance, please contact project resources manager Dr Hugh Dan MacLennan on or Lindsay Hamilton on