Participants of a Glasgow football memories group enjoyed a visit from former referee Dougie Hope as a Specsavers-sponsored whistle-stop tour of Scotland kicked off.  

The tour aims to engage those dealing with social isolation, memory loss conditions and loneliness including dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Robert Craig, chair of the Scottish Football Museum, said: "We were delighted to welcome Dougie to the group as we got under way with the first activity in our new partnership with Specsavers.

"Their support to the football memories project which impacts the lives of all who touch it, is invaluable and helps us to continue to deliver for those living with memory loss conditions or experiencing isolation."

The Gazette: Specsavers’ Sarah Freel and former referee Dougie Hope

To promote reminiscing and dialogue, football memories utilises a memory box with football-related items including life-size player cut-outs and newspaper clippings, intended to rekindle long-term memories.

The visual cues are meant to unlock positive recollections from the past, possibly having a significant impact on the participants.

Crawford Allan, Scottish FA head of Referee Operations, described football memories as a "fantastic initiative," adding that the referees are eager to support it.

He added: "We hope their stories and treasured memorabilia will spark many happy memories."

The Gazette: Former referee Dougie Hope, Specsavers’ Sarah Freel, Football Memories Scotland’s Robert Harvey

The tour, which started on January 25 at Hampden Park with the Renfrew referee, will visit Glasgow and other cities in Scotland, reaching out to the 500 groups engaged with the project.

Arlene Stephenson, chair of Specsavers’ Scottish Division, said: "Specsavers is proud of our long tradition in backing Scottish referees, but our latest sponsorship deal sees us going further than ever, helping to raise awareness of the vital work Football Memories does in assisting people living with memory loss conditions.

"We can’t wait to hear what questions the referees are fielded on their tour of the country and learn about the impact for those attending the groups."