Life’s a beach for creative care home residents

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Care home residents enjoyed a beach party without leaving landlocked Wrexham.

The Pendine Park care organisation even brought in real sand for the seaside extravaganza to celebrate the final session of a year-long creative writing project.

To mark the occasion the residents and staff wore colourful clothes, ate ice cream and ice lollies, and played beach games.

They have had their stories brought to life thanks to workshops with a professional storyteller, Jacqui Bloor, who teamed up with the Wrexham Symphony Orchestra.

The workshops were made possible thanks to funding from Arts and Business Cymru.

Jacqui said: “The whole project has been so rewarding and so much fun. I think residents have really gained from it. They have been so keen to share their memories in our creative writing workshops and their sense of humour has really shone through.

“And today, just as the other storytelling sessions when I’ve presented the stories written after each workshop, residents have joined in and we have had lots of smiles and laughter while they have also enjoyed joining in the singing.”

She added: “The seaside story came about from the memories and experiences of residents. I’ve enjoyed working with them; it’s been so much fun and I think we can all be proud of what we have achieved.”

Resident Christine Jones, 75, attended every one of the sessions.

She said: “It’s been very good. I enjoy days like this the songs have been good and I like the art classes. We made kiss-me-quick hats out of sick bowls which we painted. I also helped make the flags which are on top of the sand castles.”

Pendine Park’s artist-in residence, Sarah Edwards said: “We worked with Wrexham Symphony Orchestra on a pilot scheme before starting the four-workshop programme.

“Each storytelling workshop has had a different theme. The first one was Christmas-based, we then did Springtime in Wales, Pendine goes to the West End and finally Seaside and Holidays.

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

She added: “We have then worked with residents in art classes to make and paint seagulls, kiss-me-quick hats, sandcastle flags and sea waves so we could create our own beach within the Seren Lounge.

“Staff and residents have dressed in colourful beach-themed outfits with knotted hankies and garlands and we have served iced creams, ice lollies and a non-alcoholic fruit punch. And prior to the storytelling we’ve played beach games.

“We have created our own beach and even brought in real sand to make sand castles to which we have added colourful flags.

“Residents have clearly enjoyed the project, particularly today’s beach themed event. It’s great to be able to create our own indoor beach within Pendine Park for those residents that can’t get out and visit the seaside. It’s also about invoking happy memories.”

Pendine Park director Gill Hughes added: “It’s an important part of the Pendine Park ethos that we use the arts to enrich the lives of people across the generations. Our enrichment programme involves art in all its forms including music, poetry, storytelling and painting.

“The arts are embedded in all our staff training programmes to ensure that enrichment is a part of daily life for everybody here.

“This has been a wonderful project and I know the residents and staff got a great deal out if it.”