A teenager with a heart of gold who has a Saturday job at a care home was “amazed” when the residents threw a surprise party to celebrate his excellent GCSE results.
When he arrived James Wallice, 16, thought he was going to be helping with some gardening activities at the Highfield care home which is part of the Pendine Park organisation in Wrexham.
Instead, James, who lives in Acton, beamed with delighted after being greeted by cheers and a celebration cake for doing so well in his exams.
James, a pupil of Darland High School, in Rossett, scored four A grades and four B grades and now plans to follow in his late father’s footsteps and become a doctor of medicine – although he hasn’t totally ruled out a career as Conservative Party politician.
He said: “It’s amazing. I love what I do and really enjoy coming into Pendine Park, usually on Saturday, to help out with activities. It started when I was doing my Duke of Edinburgh award.
“Part of the requirement for the award was to take on a volunteer role to help the community.
“I came to Pendine Park and helped out enriching the lives of residents, whether through playing games or taking on craft activities or just been there to talk to and listen to residents.
“I enjoyed it so much I didn’t do six months I did a year. I passed my Duke of Edinburgh Award and asked if there were any jobs I could do so I could continue coming to Pendine Park.
“I was offered a Saturday job helping out with activities. But in truth I come in whenever I can like in the summer holidays just to help staff and see residents. A lot of them are now real friends and I enjoy spending time with them.”
James explained he assists full-time enrichment and activities coordinator Christine Lewis.
He said: “I help by teaching basic Welsh in a class I’ve set up. We then have a bingo session and in the afternoon we might play table tennis, boccia or if the weather is nice, go outside and have a picnic.
“The residents really are special and I just enjoy being in their company. They are wonderful people. Some of them have overcome huge problems in their lives, really serious medical issues, yet they haven’t given up and have full and active lives.”
“It was a real surprise to have a party in my honour to celebrate my GCSE results. The results will allow me to move onto Coleg Cambria where I intend to study for my A-levels. I want to become a doctor like my late father, Bruce Wallice.
“However, I’m chair of Conservative Future, the youth wing of the Conservative Party in Wrexham. I haven’t decided yet what I want to do as I would really like to go into politics at some point too.
“It’s a bit of a family tradition being a doctor, like my father was, but I’ll wait and see how my A-levels work out.
“My mum, Debbie is a teacher at Ysgol y Waun in Chirk and I have a younger brother Jonathan and my step dad, Andy Rathbone, is a material planner.”
He added: “Mum is really pleased with my results and she’s proud of what I do here at Pendine Park.
“I hope to stay working here on Saturday’s and helping out when I can for the foreseeable future. I really enjoy it and the residents are more like friends than anything else.”
According to Christine Lewis, Pendine Park residents have taken James to their hearts.
She said: “I work with James and I have to say his manner and presence around the residential homes is marvellous and he’s got a heart of gold. Residents really love him. He will do anything and really understands residents, particularly those with complex needs.
“He always offers a listening ear and nothing is too much trouble. He started as a volunteer and it was clear right from the off that he had a real talent for working with residents.
“We have 64 residents in Highfield House and it’s fair to say they would certainly miss him if he wasn’t here.
“He never forgets those that can’t leave their rooms or are bed-bound. He pops in and has a chat and perhaps does some activities with them. He leaves no one out.”
She added: “He really is appreciated and nothing is too much trouble. We are so pleased he did so well with his GCSE exams, we all knew he would pass with good grades, and it was the residents who came up with the idea of throwing a party for him.”
Christine Williams, of Bradley, visits her husband, Phil, who is a Highfield House resident, every day and says James is such a wonderful caring young man who makes a big difference to the lives of residents.
She said: “Phil suffered a massive secondary stroke 18 months ago. He needed to come into residential care and I looked at several places before deciding Highfield House was the best by a long way.
“I’ve got to know James and can say he never misses anyone out. He is just such a nice young man and absolutely nothing is too much trouble. He will pop into Phil’s room to say hello, in fact he’s there for everyone.”
She added: “Young people get such a bad press these days but people like James show what young people can achieve. Not many young people would give up their Saturdays to come into a residential home and organise bingo sessions for residents.
“Christine Lewis and James working together are a great team, absolutely amazing, and there is always something going on. They have what they call their Saturday Club now and if it isn’t bingo it’s dominoes or some other activity.
“I have always been made welcome whenever I visit Phil, which to be fair is daily. I have become very friendly with some staff and we even meet up now as friends for coffee away from Pendine Park. That’s the sort of place it is.”
Highfield House resident Gladys Cross, 84, said: “James is a lovely lad and they don’t come any better.
“I’ve lived at Highfield House for 18 months now. James is so helpful and he doesn’t push himself on you. He just comes in and organises activities and talks to you if you want a chat. He does everything he can to improve things.”
Fellow resident Jean Griffiths, 85, agrees adding: “He is really nice and so well mannered. We were all pleased he did so well in his exams. Nothing his too much trouble and I wish there were many more like him.”
Highfield manager Tracey Smith said: “James is a wonderful young man with a brilliant career ahead of him.
“He shows a great deal of empathy and compassion and we wish him well with his studies.”