Stewart Robinson, Walking Footballer

Silver Foxes Programme Assists Walking Footballer's Mental Health

After coming across Silver Foxes in a Matchday Magazine, fate seemingly brought Stewart Robinson and wife Margaret together with Leicester City in the Community.

Foxes fan and businessman Stewart was in desperate need of something to support him and his wife Margaret, who became isolated at home after the Coronavirus pandemic.

Margaret was sadly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2017, which meant the busy work and active lifestyle of the Robinson household needed to change.

This left Stewart in a tough predicament that changed his life, as he discussed during a Walking Football tournament at Leicester City’s state-of-the-art Training Ground.

“It was quite clear that once we realised something was adrift with Margaret, as a family, we had to consider where we go because it dawns on you that you’ve got to do a little bit more," he began.

When you have been as active as we have been all of our life, going to a singalong is not our cup of tea, so I was getting deeper and deeper into this big cloud, and you don’t know you are in there.

Stewart Robinson

“As of February 2019, I didn’t have a routine; it was a holiday for a few weeks then it became a reality and you are not talking to people, you are not engaging in all of the things that make you tick during the day.

“Nobody is there to say ‘Oh Stewart, I see you are now trying to deal with Alzheimer’s', or 'this is what you need to do now’, because you are on your own."

After becoming home bound and Margaret completely dependent on Stewart, the realisation that he was struggling hit home. In addition, the Coronavirus pandemic hit the nation, adding to Stewart’s woes.

“Things were a cloud, and it became closer and closer,” described Stewart. “It was not too long before you start to realise you’re in an isolated situation, and then low and behold this thing called Covid comes along.

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Stewart & Margaret Robinson
Stewart & Margaret Robinson

The couple now both get the support they need through LCitC’s MatchFit programme.

“The first two years were hard – you do need people – I needed someone that said: ‘Okay Stew, why don’t you do that?’. And there was nobody there to do that, so I was left thinking: ‘What the hell do I do?’.

“You talk to the people that are qualified in this and they all say to come along to this group. When you have been as active as we have been all of our life, going to a singalong is not our cup of tea, so I was getting deeper and deeper into this big cloud, and you don’t know you are in there.”

As fans were allowed back into King Power Stadium following the pandemic, it gave Stewart brief freedom and rest bite, but it wasn’t enough.

Then, he came across Silver Foxes – a Leicester City in the Community programme that enabled older people to socialise in a relaxed setting, which gave him a new glimmer of hope of finding something to support their needs.

I’m indebted to Leicester City and Silver Foxes – I don’t think I have got the words to express my gratitude and thanks.

Stewart Robinson

“I made it along to the first game after lockdown and wow, what a difference it was to see Brendan Rodgers and the team play again in person. It was very easy to take matchdays for granted - but it wasn’t enough because when I’ve gone home, I am back to that isolation,” he admitted.

“I came across an article about the Silver Foxes reforming in the matchday programme and I am thinking: ‘Wouldn’t I love to be a part of that’.

“I then made the phone call to (LCitC Health and Wellbeing Manager) Matt Bray and expressed my interest. I explained to him that the dementia group we were meeting was as good as impossible to get to.

“He said: ‘Don’t worry about that, come to the Silver Foxes’. I explained to him the situation with Margaret, and he said: 'Don’t come yourself, we are interested in both of you’.

Having taken the plunge, Margaret found something that got her out of the house, but Stewart was still to find the perfect session for him. Following a development in relationships, he was recommended to join Walking Football and he hasn’t looked back.

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Stewart Robinson, Walking Footballer
Stewart Robinson, Walking Footballer

Stewart now regularly takes part in walking football sessions ran by Leicester City in the Community.

He added: “From the point that we arrived at the door, the big smile and welcome was fantastic. We went away, and I thought we will come back to this as it was lovely.

“After going along a few times, the boys discovered my passion for football and said: ‘Why don’t you come along to Aylestone or St Margaret’s Pastures? Don’t worry Margaret will be fine, a lot of the Silver Foxes come along – they can look after her’ and we haven’t looked back since.

“We are happy to go to bed because tomorrow we are nearer to going to Leicester - I’m indebted to Leicester City and Silver Foxes – I don’t think I have got the words to express my gratitude and thanks.”

Both Margaret and Stewart are now heavily involved within LCitC’s MatchFit programme, which has given both of them the desired support.

For support and information on Alzheimer’s, click HERE.

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