Keith Harrison’s North End Souls will help make you remember

Keith Harrison with his new book North End Souls

A former journalist is using his book about Preston North End to help people with dementia.

The Sporting Memories Club is relatively new and only has around 20 people who come to Deepdale each week, the majority of which are dementia sufferers and their family.

‘Tackling dementia, depression and loneliness through sport’ the group aims to get sufferers to open up about themselves and try to trigger memories.

Harrison’s ‘North End Souls’ celebrates the careers of Preston legends and looks at the highlights of the players careers, funny stories and life after the game.

Harrison was a guest at a recent event and believes his book can invoke past memories about the football club.

It comes as Blackburn legend Tony Parkes was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Keith Harrison speaking at Preston North End Sporting Moments

Harrison said the main reason for deciding to write the book was so that there was an oral history of players experiences.

He said: “Unless you get it from the horse’s mouth there is a danger that these things will be lost.

“There is a serious aspect to it of getting these memories before these people aren’t around anymore to tell these things.”

The book has sold 1,700 copies since the release in September, and Harrison sees the response from the group as a two-way thing as he hopes that the book can spark memories.

He said: “It’s entertaining and interesting for me to hear their stories, and if that sparks some memories from them that’s the whole purpose of these sorts of groups.”

Thomas Birkett is a regular with the group as he comes with his father each week.

His dad suffered from a stroke and hadn’t been the same since. His dad started going to the Sporting Memories Club and Thomas says he can already see the difference.

He said: “He really enjoys it; he was a little bit apprehensive about coming at the start and meeting new people, but he really enjoys it. I could really see a lift in his mood.

“He knows every single player in the book, he doesn’t really read that much but wants to read this.”

The book aims to show how normal footballers are, as well as how the game has changed.

Harrison told a story of how the players after a win would go to the pub for a drink and chat along-side fans – but nowadays clubs are a lot more controlling about access to players and the connection is often missed by fans.

Parkes, 70, will be remembered for his 12 years as a player and his 22 years as a coach at Blackburn Rovers.

The club has said: “Everyone at Blackburn Rovers would like to send their love and support to club legend Tony Parkes and his family.”