Ex-Shrewsbury Town player Paul still scoring thanks to nursing home staff

An ex-Shrewsbury Town footballer may have swapped the stadiums for the residents’ lounge, but staff are making sure he can still enjoy the beautiful game.

Paul Williams, fourth from right, with his Uttoxeter team
Paul Williams, fourth from right, with his Uttoxeter team

Paul Williams, 79, lives at Barrowhill Hall; a residential and nursing home specialising in caring for those living with dementia and memory loss. When Paul joined the 74-bed home in 2018, staff were impressed to learn that in his younger days he’d had a short spell as a professional footballer for Shrewsbury Town.

Paul ended his short time with Salop to become a civil servant and moved to Germany, where he continued to play for the Civil Service team. When he later moved to Uttoxeter, his passion for football found him back on the pitch in the UK. He played centre forward, this time at amateur level, for Uttoxeter All Stars and Uttoxeter Amateurs and he continued to play for both teams for over five years.

Paul’s two sons Mark and Darren Williams used to watch him play his Sunday matches. Mark said: “Dad loves football, it’s been a huge part of his life both as a player and as a fan.”

Darren said: “He used to love going to watch games – his passion is Hereford United. He went to most home games, and he has a framed shirt signed by the team hanging in his room at Barrowhill Hall.

“While he can no longer go to the matches the home makes an effort to put football games on the TV for him.”

Ex-Shrewsbury Town player Paul Williams

Mel Conway, activities coordinator at Barrowhill Hall, also makes sure football is one of the activities Paul can enjoy with his fellow residents, albeit a seated version. She says,

“The thing I love about my job is making sure the residents are happy and can continue to do what they love. We get to know all our residents as individuals, and we find out what they enjoy doing and also what they don’t like.

“Paul is not as mobile as he’d like to be these days, but we play seated games. It keeps him connected to what he loves.”

Maintaining skills and hobbies, like football, is beneficial for residents’ mental health, from improving confidence, self-esteem and cognition to supporting social interaction, general happiness and improved mood. However, the physical benefits are also equally important. Sports and exercise for residents living with dementia improves strength, maintains strong muscles and flexible joints as well as improving cardiovascular health.

Care home manager Tina Hammond said: “The main thing for residents is stimulation and our activities team here work tirelessly to provide that, in a whole range of ways. Our games are a lot of fun but most importantly they maintain the health and wellbeing of our residents.

“Our residents' lives should be full of meaning and purpose and we help to make that happen by ensuring the things that are important to them, are important to us.”

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