Alan and Hazel first attended Port Vale’s Golden Valiants session in 2021 after a stroke left Alan shy and fearful. He struggled physically with his left side significantly weakened, and his short-term memory suffered also.
Little did they know when they first stepped foot in the door at Port Vale that Golden Valiants would change their lives.
Port Vale’s Golden Valiants is part of the EFL Trust’s network of Extra Time Hubs. The Hubs allow people in their retirement to enjoy the process of getting older. With friendships, support and being the socially active forefront of the Hubs aim, participants decide what they wish to take in with various activities on offer from quizzes to walking football.
When the pair first attended in July 2021, Alan was nervous, hiding behind Hazel and was heard to say: “I’m frightened."
At the beginning of the first session, he avoided eye contact and verbal interaction with any member of staff and refused to participate in the activities on offer. After careful consideration from both the staff and Hazel, the session progressed, and they introduced large wooden dominoes to Alan. When asked if he would like to play, without replying, he began to turn over the dominoes, even though it was a lengthy and challenging process.
Alan and Hazel continued to attend, and Alan’s confidence grew. He started to interact with others, and his mobility started to improve by participating in our chair-based exercise, joining in with the dancing, and moving from one activity to another with balance and directness.
There have been many drastic improvements. Alan now has more confidence in using the parts of his body that were weakened and now takes part in intricate hand-eye coordination activities such as darts, painting and ten-pin bowling.
The stroke also meant Alan struggled with his short-term memory, not remembering why he was visiting places, who people were or what day of the week it was. However as Hazel, who now also volunteers at the Foundation’s Memory Lane Café, explains the regular session have also helped improve Alan’s memory.
“Having a routine in place, where we can attend a group with such caring and attentive staff in a safe environment has been a lifesaver. Alan so looks forward to attending the sessions on a weekly basis. He has personally written 'Port Vale day' on the calendar for every Tuesday.
"His ability to dress himself and interact with others has dramatically increased and his confidence, verbal interaction skills, and his increased short term memory surprises me every day. He now takes pride in entering the building before me."