Blackburn Community Trust Initiative Provides Social Lifeline To Club Legend

Blackburn Rovers Community Trust (BRCT) initiative ‘Remember The Rovers’ is among the first to receive a £10,000 grant thanks to the Sky Bet EFL Building Foundations Fund.



EFL title sponsor Sky Bet visited the Alzheimer’s and dementia support initiative to speak to the regular participants and record the impact that the programme has in the local community.


When Blackburn Rovers Community Trust created ‘Remember The Rovers’ in 2019, to provide a social lifeline to those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia, they had no way of knowing just how vital the programme would become for the man they call Mr Blackburn Rovers, Tony Parkes.


Parkes is a bona fide legend at Blackburn, with over 30 years’ service to the Lancashire club, including spells as a player, assistant & caretaker manager.


In February 2020, Tony’s daughter Natalie announced that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease – an announcement which was followed by an outpouring of love and support from the footballing community.


“People just think it’s forgetfulness,” says Natalie, “I wish it was. It goes from aggression, to just losing their vocabulary altogether – my dad has no voice now. 


“He just couldn’t follow conversations, he felt lost, he was scared.”


Tony soon became a regular at the newly-established Remember The Rovers, with the sessions bringing the best out of Natalie’s dad, and giving her and other families some much-needed support.


Blackburn Rovers Community Trust’s Ben Howard was instrumental in the creation of the initiative, which uses activities like quizzes & guest speakers to rekindle memories in the fans who attend.


He said: “There wasn’t much in the Blackburn area to help those with dementia & Alzheimer’s and we’re in a strong position due to the connection that our participants have with the club, which for a lot of people is their life.”


Remember The Rovers is now due to receive a £10,000 grant as part of the Sky Bet EFL Building Foundations Fund – a £6m commitment made by Sky Bet over the next six seasons, as part of their continuing sponsorship of the EFL.


Gary Robinson, CEO of the Blackburn Rovers Community Trust, said: “The funds that we’re going to be receiving means our staff can commit the time to make sure it grows and develops and continues to offer a first-class service to the beneficiaries.”





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