This VR project will immerse people with dementia in the happy summer of England's World Cup win

A creative collective led by Grey London and Thomas Thomas Films is developing a virtual-reality film set during the summer of England's 1966 World Cup victory to help people who are living with dementia and Alzheimer's.

This VR project will immerse people with dementia in the happy summer of England's World Cup win

The Wayback is a free VR app that aims to spark memories and trigger conversations among patients by immersing users in the sights and sounds of positive moments from the past. The group behind the project will use VR technology to recreate and film scenes from the summer of 1966, leading up to England’s World Cup win on 30 June.

A Kickstarter campaign aims to raise £60,000 to produce the film with the hope of releasing it in time for this year’s World Cup finals kicking off in Russia on 14 June.

This is the second instalment of The Wayback, which last year released its first film featuring reenacted street scenes from Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation celebrations in June 1953. Over two days of filming they used hundreds of extras to recreate moments from that day, including specific details such as clothing, food and conversations. 

The Wayback is a partnership between Grey and Thomas Thomas Films and was originally conceived by Dan Cole, Andy Garnett and Howard Green. The collective also includes director Kevin Thomas, producers Emma Fasson, Trent Simpson and Philippa Thomas, 750mph, The Quarry and PR agency Harvard. 

The idea for The Wayback came about after Cole, Garnett and Green had family members diagnosed with dementia. Some care professionals believe that triggering happy memories from the past can help people with Alzheimer’s by bringing comfort and reinforcing a sense of identity. 

"The Wayback virtual-reality film offers those living with dementia the opportunity to live in the moment, to go back in time and to just 'be' again," said Dr David Sheard, an expert in dementia care and reminiscence methods who helped The Wayback team develop the project. "People don't just remember their past memories, they feel the emotions that went with them. The biggest risk to someone living with dementia is to feel a loss of self-esteem, to have no purpose, to feel isolated and unconnected." 

This year’s film will be even more relevant because three members of the 1966 World Cup winning team – Nobby Stiles, Martin Peters and Ray Wilson – are now living with dementia.