Legendary peace campaigner Terry Waite has given his seal of approval to a special event which saw care home residents harmonising with schoolchildren at Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.
The festival’s iconic president dropped by as people from Pendine Park care homes in Wrexham were enjoying a sing-along with youngsters from primary schools in the area at music workshops.
Apart from joining in with favourite numbers such as Yellow Submarine and My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean, the Pendine people and the children also kept time with the tunes by shaking tambourines and rattling maracas.
The sessions ran throughout the morning and into the afternoon and were arranged by the arts-loving Pendine care organisation which was sponsoring the whole day.
Attracting hundreds of visiting children, they were led by world-class musician Jenny Pearson, a freelance singer and tutor who has worked with the Welsh National Opera.
Terry Waite, who called into the Pendine tent and sat down to enjoy one of the boisterous sessions, said: “This is a very imaginative and creative programme both for the young people and the residents.
“I’ve just watched nearly 150 children taking part and enjoying themselves so much.
“Perhaps many of the children involved would otherwise have little contact with elderly people, so these sessions perfectly bridge the generation gap.”
Teaching assistant Mandy Warner, who brought along a group of year six pupils from Ysgol Bodhyfryd in Wrexham, said: “It’s great to be here with the children today, especially as for the past two years groups of them have been visiting Pendine’ Hillbury care home in Wrexham to do things like singing and playing bingo with residents.
“They’ve developed a lovely relationship and the children look forward to going there and chatting with the elderly people.”
One of those who is a regular Hillbury visitor, 11-year-old Catrin Williams, said: “We really enjoy going to the home to meet the people there, so it’s been good to come along to the Eisteddfod to see them again and sing with them. I’ve enjoyed it very much.
It was the same story with her classmate Alys Edwards, also 11, who said: “It’s really great to meet the people who live at Hillbury and to hear from them how people used to live in years gone by. Coming here to sing with them today has been very special.”
Another young visitor who got into the swing of the Pendine sessions was nine-year-old Jenna Ashfield from another school group, Gwenfro Primary School in Wrexham, which included around 80 children determined to have a great time.
She said: “It’s been good to have a go at singing with the elderly people and to play the instruments. I’ve had a fantastic time and my favourite song to join in with was Yellow Submarine.”
Matej Ondruch, nine from the same school, said: “Yellow Submarine was also the song I liked best. It’s the first time I’ve been to one of these workshops but I hope I can come again next year.”
The all-action sessions also went down well with residents like 84-year-old Olga Ord from Hillbury. Taking a break from bashing the tambourine in time with the music she said: “I’m really enjoying myself and I love seeing the children having a good time by joining in with the songs.”
And 45-year-old Sian Walley, one of the younger residents at Pendine’s Bryn Bella home in Wrexham, was equally enthusiastic.
She said: “This is the first time I’ve been to one of these music workshops but I’ve been having a great time singing along and playing the maracas. It’s really amazing to see the children having such a good time too.”
The workshops have become a popular annual event at the Eisteddfod and are part of Pendine’s pioneering enrichment programme, which enhances the experience of residents and also plays a key role in personal training and staff development.
Sarah Edwards, artist in residence at Pendine, said: “The idea of the workshops is to introduce the community and children from the region’s schools to the care sector and give them an impression of what we do.
“We’re grateful for Jenny and Howys Price, who played the keyboard, for coming along and lending their enthusiasm and expertise to the sessions.”
Jenny Pearson, who led the workshops, said: “The emphasis has been on inclusion, encouraging the Pendine residents to join in with the music, exercises and singing.
“Everyone involved, of whatever age, has had a fantastic time and it’s been a brilliant day.”
Mario Kreft, Proprietor of Pendine Park, said: “These workshops are our way of reaching out across the generations and to have so many people involved in them is just terrific.
“We invite the schoolchildren to take part in the workshops because I think it is important that young people understand how they can play a part in looking after older people with disabilities.”
“Another aim is to encourage people to talk about what an importance part social care plays in the community.
“This year is a very special time for Pendine because of the continuing celebrations of our 30 years of enriching lives across the generations and also for Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod which is marking its 70th anniversary. We wish the festival the very best for the future.”