Coventry man given a ‘sense of purpose’ two years after Dementia diagnosis thanks to CV Life initiative

A Coventry man who once made appearances for Coventry City Reserves has been given a ‘sense of purpose’ after being diagnosed with Dementia two years ago.

Peter Marchi was always a talented athlete. He appeared for Coventry School Boys as a child, before he playing football at a high level as a young man, including a stint on the books of the Sky Blues. He later garnered a reputation as a talented inside left and become one of the finest players of Coventry’s then vibrant amateur football scene.

Later he kept fit and active with tennis, badminton and table tennis, sports he kept doing right up until a series of mini strokes in 2022 led to Peter needing full time care after a diagnosis of Vascular Dementia.

His bereft family have been mourning losing their fun and sporty dad and grandad ever since.

Daughter Lindsay said: “Watching someone slip away slowly with this condition is awful. My mum died of cancer, she was ill for a year but was always with it mentally. Seeing dad like this; there physically, but very rarely there mentally, is worse.”

Dealing with care homes, social workers and trying to find what was best for Peter was foreign terrain for Lindsay and family, but they were delighted when they found just the right place.

Since moving into Avalon Court the family have found a home they are happy with. Though there are more bad days than good, the family have stumbled across a monthly event which Lindsay says gives them all a ‘sense of purpose’.

Sporting Memories, part of the CV Life and the council’s Coventry Moves project, aims to tackle isolation and loneliness among the older generation by reminiscing about the city through the lens of sport in a dementia friendly way.    

Compered by city athletics legend Dave Moorcroft, the sessions have been attended by hundreds of people, with some truly iconic Coventry sporting figures as guests.   

FA Cup Winners Steve Ogrizovic and Dave Bennett have been in attendance as well as Dave Busst, Dennis Mortimor and Andy Blair.  From the world of swimming, Hamilton Bland took questions from Dave Moorcroft, while journalist legends Adam Dent, Stuart Linnell, Rob Gurney and Clive Eakin discussed their time covering the city’s sport scene.

Discussing the events, Lindsay said: “We thought we’d lost Dad when he was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia, but when he’s at Sporting Memories it’s like we get a piece of him back.

“When he’s there he listens along to stories, nods his head in recognition and laughs at the jokes. It’s wonderful to see. Not only has it given us and him a sense of purpose, we’re also creating new memories, which is honestly something I never thought I’d say once he’d been diagnosed. We thought we’d lost that opportunity. That’s massive for us.

“When he’s there, everyone is so friendly, there are people who recognise Dad who played with him or against him during his football days – it makes it feel like a big family.”

Peter, right, with brother Will at Sporting Memories

Also attending the events with Peter is his brother Will and son Neil.

“We all look forward to attending Sporting Memories and seeing the benefits it has on our dad and my Uncle Will,” Neil said. “Sport has always been a huge part of our family. Even now, I take Dad to Over 60s table tennis and sport is so ingrained in his being, his DNA, he can still hit the ball and keep a rally going.

“So coming to Sporting Memories and taking part is just perfect for our situation.”

Lindsay added: “I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to take Dad to Sporting Memories. It’s something we all look forward to. We treat those days as a win.

“There isn’t much hope or positivity when someone you love has this awful condition, but Sporting Memories has been a chink of light at the end of what’s been a very dark tunnel.”

Find out more about Sporting Memories here.