Britain’s Got Talent street dance duo Twist and Pulse, fire artists, free runners and an 82 year old silver surfer were among the stars of an action-packed fun day.
The dynamic London-based dancers, runners-up in the hit TV talent show, wowed the audience at the Big Day Out organised by housing association Cartrefi Conwy.
Hundreds of tenants from across the county attended the event at the John Bright Leisure Centre in Llandudno where the entertainment also included wrestling demonstrations, older person’s Zumba, circus skills workshops and a steel band giving the event a calypso feel.
The theme of the day was getting connected and octogenarian Don Jackson was there in his capacity as Cartrefi Conwy’s digital ambassador to encourage other older tenants to get surfing.
Don, a tenant who lives at Llys Parc, in Rhos on Sea, explained how getting online had helped him beat loneliness after his wife passed away.
Thanks to a computer course organised by Cartrefi Conwy he has even managed to track down the couple’s best man who he hadn’t heard from for over 60 years.
He said: “I lost my wife Edna three years ago. We met when we both served in the RAF at Oxbridge in Middlesex. We were married for 61 years until she passed away from cancer.
“Learning how to use an iPad opened the door for me. Lots of friends all over the country use e-mail and Facebook and now I can find them. It also meant I could track down my best man, John Bushere, who I hadn’t spoken to for over 60 years.”
“I’m now using e-mail and Facebook regularly. Facebook is good providing it’s used properly.
“I encourage older people to get online and not be frightened of it. It’s opened doors for me and learning just the basic computer skills is so important.”
According to Cartrefi Conwy’s older person engagement co-ordinator and digital champion, Nerys Veldhuizen, Don is a fantastic role model.
She said: “He’s a lovely man who has found a new lease of life through getting online and finding old friends.
“He is massively respected by other tenants who often go to him for help and advice. It’s amazing he is now so at home online and using social media to contact many people he otherwise wouldn’t hear from.”
Jane Parry-Evans, Cartrefi Conwy’s head of ICT, was on hand with her team at the Big Day Out to promote their new online service, mycartrefi.org
She said: “We have developed the system so our customers can make payments and report repairs more conveniently. Our tenants benefit as they can make payments anytime and have easy access to their accounts online, as well as updating their contact details and reporting repairs, without the need to go to one of our offices or a Post Office.”
One of the most popular information stations at the Big Day Out event was Ranger Rob’s Animal Experience.
Proprietor Robert Welton and his brother-in-law, Ashley Sudell, took along a variety of reptiles, amphibians and spiders and offered advice on keeping exotic pets.
Ashley, 27, said: “We want to give children a fun-filled experience but also change their and their parents’ perception on keeping some animals as pets.
“People go along to a pet shop and buy a small snake such as a python that eats mice not realising it will go onto needing rats, then rabbits, chickens and eventually whole lambs or piglets. These snakes can grow to huge sizes, nine feet or longer.
The problem then is people can’t cope and the snakes are left at reptile rescue centres. The number of snakes and lizards been rescued is almost at epidemic proportions.
Tenant Kirsty Evans and her son Kayne, six, and niece Seren Evans, eight, of Heulfryn, Deganwy, enjoyed seeing and handling the snakes and lizards.
Kirsty said: “It’s a great idea to educate kids on animal welfare issues and what can be kept safely as a pet and what can’t. I never realised just how big some of these snakes can grow.”
Seren added: “I have a pet bearded dragon lizard at home. It’s growing and sheds its skin every now and then. I’ve learnt a lot about how big snakes and lizards can grow.”
Cartrefi Conwy board member Bill Hunt, who is also chair of the operations committee as well as being a tenant, said: “The Big Day Out is once again a huge success.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for tenants to engage with Cartrefi Conwy officers face-to-face while having a great time and enjoying all the fun events. It’s simply a fantastic day.”
Also having a good time was Aberconwy AM Janet Finch-Saunders who said: “The Big Day Out is an excellent idea and a perfect example of how to engage with tenants.
“I’m pleased to hear how the digital inclusion programmes run by Cartrefi Conwy are making a big difference to silver surfers and helping people, particularly older tenants, get the best out of the internet and all it offers.”
Cartrefi Conwy managing director Gwynne Jones said: “It’s been fabulous welcoming so many of our valued tenants to the event. It’s been incredibly well attended and I have to thank our many partners for their support in making the day as successful as it has been.”
Chief executive Andrew Bowden was equally delighted with how things had gone.
He said: “Our motto is to build communities to be proud of. I think we are achieving that goal although we will never rest on our laurels. There is always something we can improve.
“Our dedicated and loyal Cartrefi Conwy team has worked incredibly hard once again to make this annual event a huge success and they deserve a huge pat on the back and a thank you from tenants and our executive team.”