Crocodiles and dragons star in spooky Christmas story

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A group of talented care home residents have worked with members of a symphony orchestra to come up with a spooky Christmas tale with an added musical twist.

The people living at the Pendine Park care organisation in Wrexham teamed up with professional storyteller Jacqui Bloor for a creative writing workshop.

The story which featured crocodiles and dragons was accompanied by the Onslow Quartet, which is made up of Wrexham Symphony Orchestra musicians.

Mike Davies, who has cerebral palsy and lives in the Penybryn care home, says the workshop was excellent and helped him get back to writing his own poetry.

He said: “I used to like going out into the countryside and writing my own poetry. Joining in the workshop has made me want to start writing myself again; in fact it’s actually made me feel good about myself.”

Pendine Park’s artist-in residence, Sarah Edwards, says the event, which is the first of four workshops, was made possible thanks to funding from Arts and Business Cymru and the backing of the Pendine Arts and Community Trust which supports arts and community-based activities.

She said: “We worked with Wrexham Symphony Orchestra on a pilot scheme last year before starting this four workshop programme.

“Each storytelling workshop will have a different theme. This first one is Christmas-based while the next three will follow the seasons starting with spring, then summer and finally autumn.

“It works by Jacqui talking to residents and getting their ideas. She then writes a story based on those thoughts. The story is then read at a storytelling session along with music performed by Wrexham Symphony Orchestra musicians.”

Jacqui Bloor, who is also plays the French horn in the orchestra, said: “I had a workshop with lots of residents and listened to their thoughts about what Christmas is and what perhaps it should be. The story which, although dark in places, has a happy ending with lots to cheer.

“The story is a fantasy story and some of the characters are very different, we have crocodiles and dragons involved, not perhaps the usual Christmas characters!”

She added: “The two main characters are Tony and Gaynor. Tony is away fighting in the trenches during World War One and helped by a crocodile. To get home for Christmas he has to cross a bridge which is guarded by a dragon.

“He manages to sleigh the dragon, which is transformed into a church gargoyle. Tony gets home to Gaynor and their eight children who want everything for Christmas!”

Wrexham Symphony Orchestra marketing manager Derek Jones said: “We started talking to Pendine Park’s artist-in-residence Sarah Edwards to explore how we could, as an orchestra, contribute to the enrichment programme at Pendine Park as part of our own community engagement programme.

“The response from residents has been amazing and we have had full engagement. Jacqui has held creative writing workshops to come up with a storyline.

“We have then sat down with the musicians to come up with suitable and appropriate music to accompany the story. It’s proved to be a very good scheme and hopefully the start of something really special.”