Wales’ first ever care home artist in residence is celebrating two decades in the role.
Staff and residents at the Pendine Park care organisation threw a special celebration party in honour of the pioneering Sarah Edwards.
She was engaged as a consultant by arts loving owners Mario and Gill Kreft in 1995.
Since then Sarah’s has supported the development of award-winning enrichment programmes at their care homes in Wrexham and Caernarfon.
She also masterminded the interior design at Pendine Park’s new £7 million centre of excellence for dementia care, Bryn Seiont Newydd in Caernarfon.
Sarah, a talented artist in her own right, first helped Pendine Park when they were opening their third care home, Highfield House, in Wrexham.
Mr and Mrs Kreft were keen to bring the benefits of art and music to residents and staff.
Mr Kreft said: “We knew that art and music could be a huge benefit and were thinking of how it could be included in day to day care.
“That’s when, out of the blue, an approach to provide innovative services arrived from Sarah who had just graduated from Cardiff University. It seemed to us that Sarah had already decided she was going to become the first artist in residence at Pendine Park and indeed the first in Wales.
“We were intrigued to know more and invited Sarah to come and meet us. I met her with my grandfather, Freddie, who was 95 then and a big lover of the arts. In fact Sarah interviewed us with some forensic questioning and fortunately we passed. The rest is history.”
Sarah has helped guide Pendine Park to win won numerous arts related awards and earlier this year the organisation was named Business of the Year at the prestigious Arts and Business Cymru Awards.
The company has developed partnerships with the renowned Hallé orchestra, Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod and North Wales International Music Festival.
Collaborating with the Hallé, Pendine Park provides music activity to its care home residents while training staff to facilitate arts sessions as therapeutic activity.
At the anniversary party, Sarah Edwards was presented with a gift of a book of art work drawn and painted by Pendine Park residents.
She added: “I’ve had an amazing time and seen so much change. My consultancy role has evolved massively and I love the ever-changing variety of what I do
“I also enjoy advising the Wales Care Awards and Care Forum Wales on artistic enrichment care.
“The possibilities are endless and the more we get staff involved the better. At Bryn Seiont Newydd Pendine has now employed an artist and a musician in residence I am supporting to help take enrichment to another level.
“Of course none of this would be possible without the vision and foresight of Mario and Gill Kreft. I’m also thrilled I have been commissioned to devise our interior design and colour schemes. It another string to my bow and something I have really enjoyed.
Emma Locker, 40, a resident of Pendine Park’s Bryn Bella care home, says Sarah inspired her to take up art.
She said: “At school I hated art and used to try and miss lessons. I hated it and thought I was hopeless at it. But Sarah gave me confidence and helped me understand that I could do it.
“Now I draw and paint some amazing pictures that people tell me are very good and that gives me loads of confidence. Without Sarah I never would have done it and I love her to bits.
“She helped me to persevere and stick with art and now I like helping others. It’s just a brilliant thing to do.”
Mrs Kreft added: “Sarah has been a constant force for good in the social care sector and a strong influence at Pendine Park for 20 years for which we are truly thankful. Sarah is hugely respected and talented and has been the worthy winner of numerous artistic awards in the social care sector.
“Sarah has made her mark in Wales and is recognised as one of the most influential creative arts leaders in North Wales.”