Buddy scheme helps dementia sufferers get back on course

Movement for Memories has helped Tony Norton return to playing golf after his diagnosis.

Tony has become more active since playing golf with Scott. <strong>STV</strong>
Tony has become more active since playing golf with Scott. STV

A new buddy scheme has been launched in a bid to offer people living with dementia a fresh chance to embrace their favourite sport.

Edinburgh Leisure is calling for volunteers to head out on the golf course, tennis court or even the gym – to help those with the condition continue to be active, while providing respite for their carers.

Among those who is benefiting from the new scheme is Tony Norton, 83, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2016.

He was a lecturer in electrical and electronic engineering at Heriot Watt University and was talented at hobbies including wood turning.


But since his diagnosis he has become withdrawn and has given up interests including gardening and golf.

His wife Morag says adjusting to his ever-changing condition is a daily struggle.

“He very rarely talks to me. Therefore it’s difficult to get a conversation going,” she says.

She signed Tony up to Edinburgh Leisure’s new Movement for Memories scheme in the hope that he could get back on the golf course.


He now teams up with buddy Sam Scott at Portobello Golf Course once a week. While the fresh air and exercise is beneficial for him, it also gives his wife a break from the challenges of caring for him.

“It’s something he used to enjoy and hopefully it satisfies him, when there’s so little that he now can do from his life before,” she told STV News. “Sam is happy to go at his pace, because he does go slower, so that’s brilliant.”

Mr Scott, Edinburgh Leisure’s health development officer for dementia said: “We offer a range of activities such as gym, swim, golf, tennis – but the whole part of the project is to provide support and safety among people so they can enjoy being physically active.

“They’re getting that social connection as well which makes a huge difference for people with dementia.”

The Movement for Memories project is supported by funding from the Life Changes Trust.

Budding volunteers only require to have a basic knowledge of the rules of golf or the other activities they sign up for.

Edinburgh Leisure, which will provide dementia training, says it’s looking for buddies who are friendly, warm, and non-judgemental, who will be a helping hand throughout the activity.

You're up to date

You've read today's top stories. Where would you like to go next?