Peter Jones stood in front of a wall with advertisements on it at a football stadium, wearing an Alzheimer's Society pin badge

I'm determined to make sport dementia-friendly for people like me

Peter, a lifelong football fan and ex-referee, was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2016. Now an active member of the dementia community, Peter explains why he's such a passionate advocate for dementia-friendly sport.

When I was growing up a Carlisle United player called Sammy Taylor lived in the house opposite to mine, and when he left another player called Frank Large moved in. He held the record for playing in all four divisions of the football league.

He was a centre forward, and when he was running he could have knocked a barn door down! He took me to my first match after I’d been in hospital following an accident.

I was hooked! I still follow them now.

Turning my passion for football into a career

I loved playing football but wasn’t good enough to get into my school team. I played for a Sunday morning team and took an FA refereeing course and exam. I then started refereeing in what they called the Christian Welfare League.

I worked my way up through the leagues and ended up being the fourth official for Carlisle United for the season

That was in the 1970s. I was then an official in the Northern Premier League.

My biggest game was in the FA Cup when Carlisle United played against Liverpool in the late 80s. It was really special.

An old photograph of Peter Jones as a referee on a football pitch

Peter in his refereeing days, where he worked his way up through the football leagues.

Peter in his refereeing days, where he worked his way up through the football leagues.

I had to stop over in a hotel, which was strange in your home town! I went into the director’s room at 11am in the morning and remember Denis Law was there with the commentator Peter Jones sat next to him.

I also ran the line in the England schools final in 1991. I got to wear three lions on my shirt, because I was involved in the final. It was an honour. It was at Goodison Park, Everton’s ground, in front of 22,000 people. The guest of honour was Bobby Charlton.

I was a junior referee, so it was a big step up. It was a proud moment for me.

Noticing memory problems after a stroke

After a stroke in 2012 I didn’t experience any problems initially. But after I started a job at McDonalds, I would regularly stand at the counter and forget why I was there.

Eventually, I went to a doctor who did a memory test, then I was referred to Memory Matters at the hospital where I had a scan.

In 2016 at the age of 62 I was diagnosed with vascular dementia. I didn’t believe it at first.

In 2017 I rang the Alzheimer’s Society and got through to the Kendal office. A woman called Judith called me and pointed me in the direction of a dementia café and Singing For The Brain group.

Active in the dementia community

I got involved and after a few months I became a volunteer, which opened up my life.

I am appreciated and treated as a person. Working with Alzheimer’s Society on sporting initiatives, like helping develop the new Dementia Friendly Sport Clubs and Venues Guide, has given me a chance to go and watch live sport again.

Sport was my life for 24 years. But after my diagnosis, going to football matches became a no no.

I can’t stand too many people, and I get confused.

Peter and a woman pose for a picture that an Alzheimer's Society employee is taking on their phone, in the Wolverhampton F.C. dressing room

Working with Alzheimer’s Society has enabled Peter to start watching live sport again.

Importance of dementia-friendly sport

I had nobody to take me, and I would have needed someone to go with. I find there are more little things that I need help with now.

If I’m at a football match and I go to the toilet, how would I get back to where I was sitting? I would come back and not be able to remember.

This is where matchday stewards can help you and guide you back to your seat.

Alzheimer’s Society can help by delivering Dementia Friends sessions, and I think that is the way forward in all sports – whether it be rugby, football or golf. I want every club to embrace this to enable me to continue to watch live sport.

I like to go for a walk every day, get the fresh air and see the local wildlife. You meet people, which is really good. You still get treated as a person.

That’s the important thing. They don’t treat me as Peter Jones who has dementia, they treat me as Peter Jones the person. 

Sport should be unforgettable

Through our work with sport, Alzheimer's Society is making a difference for all people who, like Peter, are affected by dementia.

Learn more


Peter is an inspirational man. I am lucky enough to know Peter, and he was a friend of my late Dad from way back, and I love listening to Peter's recollections of days gone by. His memory of his sporting achievements and his story telling is fantastic, and something to behold at times. Dementia has taken his short term abilities, but his long term memory seems great. At least regarding the game he has loved all his life anyway! It's fantastic to see Peter getting back to watch live sport, and making a huge impact on the lives of other people with Dementia along the way. Hopefully spurring some old memories for himself, and others along the way. Keep up the amazing work and campaigning Peter, you're a true local hero, and one I'm very proud to call a friend!
My partner refuses to admit he has Vascular dementia it is hard work as I am his career now as well as his partner
Thank you
Thank you for your support
Well done Peter. That what we need for people like us to treated as a person not with a illness. We still have a lot to offer.
I started playing rugby at age 12, although I was always one of the shorter team members. When I had to stop playing that game, my extra-active sport became aerobatic competition flying; something else that can cause stress to the brain. But that was done sitting down... so I could carry on for some time, and could also pass on my skills to others in 2-seaters. Now in my 70s, I have been diagnosed with "early onset" dementia, following in the footsteps of my maternal grandfather who lived until he was 97. So still lots for me to look forward to!
What an inspiration you are Peter - you are helping others and continuing to make your life enjoyable and do the things you love!
What a wonderful story. Peter is an example of how to not only stay positive but to help others as well and what a wonderful initiative. So many people with dementia will have enjoyed either participating or watching sport. I sincerely hope football clubs across the country embrace this to help people to continue enjoying something they love. I wish you all the very best Peter, and keep shining that light, you will help so many.
Thank you to everyone who reads my story
My son is in a care home for Altziemers in Rochester in Kent. Would I be able to get someone to take him to football practice or watch a match near bye. He is 56 and still very active. I live in Lydd on Sea which is a a fare way for me to travel.

Hi Pat,

The best place to look for support services near you is in our dementia directory: 

Or, you can call our dementia support line on 0333 150 3456 to speak with one of our trained dementia advisers. They can listen to you and provide advice. You can find more details about the support line (including opening hours and other methods of contact) here:

We hope this helps.

Alzheimer's Society website team