An award-winning care home worker who once re-created a lunar landing to inspire residents’ memories of man’s first steps on the moon has retired.

Kind-hearted Chris Lewis was waved off by residents and staff as she left her role as lead enrichment and activities co-ordinator at Pendine Park’s Highfield Care Home in Wrexham

The 62-year-old was described as “a friend to everyone” at the home in Summerhill Road and someone who would frequently go “above and beyond” her duties to care for residents.

During her last day at work Chris, said the 14 years she had spent at Highfield had “flown by” but now was the right time to retire with husband Bryan, a council worker, due to retire next April.

“It was difficult over Covid-19 but I’ve loved working here, it’s been absolutely wonderful. I’m leaving here with tons of good memories.

“It’s an emotional day but I’ve made sure to see all the residents but I only live down the road and I’ll be sure to pop in and see them all again in the future.”

The mum-of-three is looking forward to spending more time with her grandchildren.

“There are of six of them, four granddaughters and two grandsons and they range from 15 years old to just four months so I’m hoping to see more of them.

“The eldest, Elinor, is taking her GCSE exams next year and another, Freddie, is a cracking little footballer and is hoping one of the Manchester clubs signs him on. I’ve told him I’ll be his cleaner if he makes the grade,” joked Chris.

Chris took “a giant leap” organising a madcap celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing in 2019.

She transformed a lift into Apollo 11’s lunar module, the Eagle, and the wacky out of this world experience was accompanied by appropriate music  like Frank Sinatra singing Fly me to the Moon and Walking on the Moon by the Police.

Once they reached the lunar surface aka the first floor, they planted a flag in a decorated sick bowl which was doubling up as a crater…but this time it was a Pendine Park banner rather than the Stars and Stripes taking pride of place.

She planned the event while lying in a hospital bed after being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

“I was trying to think of something different to inspire residents but in a fun way. I thought up the idea of transforming the lift into a space capsule and recreating the surface of the moon on a landing at the care home using bubble wrap and painted sick bowls, which make perfect lunar craters.

It certainly got residents thinking with some recalling what they were doing when the moon landings took place 50 years ago,” she said.

Formerly a cleaner in the home, Chris stepped into her role as enrichment and activities co-ordinator at Highfield in early 2016.

She organised art and craft classes, bingo, film nights and even a mid-week take-away meal. Saturday sing-alongs were regular features of life at Highfield to songs from a book Chris made herself.

During the summer months Chris would run the ice-cream trolley offering flake-topped 99s to the resident. In the autumn months Chris would organise a Macmillan coffee morning, a Halloween party, Bonfire night fireworks and a Remembrance service.

At Christmas times Chris was always dressed as Father Christmas and organised pantomime performances at Highfield and at other Pendine Park care homes in the area. Chris would sometimes work on Christmas Day itself and on New Year’s Day often led a Congo dance round the home.

It was all part of Chris’s strategy to help enrich the lives of the residents to ensure they always have something to look forward to.

“I try to get the families involved as much as possible. It’s nice for the residents to share the activities with their loved ones. It’s all about enriching their lives and helping them enjoy their final years,” she said.

On Valentine’s Day she ensured every resident had a card and red rose while on St David’s Day she placed daffodils around the home.

She added: “They’re traditional things and the elderly like their traditions.

“I like to think what I do aids wellbeing by lifting the spirits and enriching the lives of the residents through various activities and the arts.”

Her endless enthusiasm and constant stream of ideas earned her a gold award at the Wales Care Awards in the Promoting Fulfilled Lives category.

Chris said: “That was a marvellous occasion and one I shall never forget. Being nominated for the award itself was one thing but then winning was something else. It was a great evening in Cardiff.”

Sarah Edwards, Pendine’s artist-in-residence, said: “It’s been an absolute delight to work with Chris.

“We’ll miss her singing Jingle Bells in the middle of summer but she’s done a really good job and brought joy to everybody, staff and residents, and made everyone laugh.

“She’s everybody’s friend and has a unique personality.

“Chris will be very much missed and I hope we’ll see her again very soon because Pendine was a big part of her life.”

In a special personal message on Chris’s retirement, Pendine Park proprietors Mario Kreft MBE and his wife Gill said: “We wish you the happiest retirement and hope you will keep in touch and drop by anytime. You will be greatly missed in Highfield and across Pendine and you leave with a huge legacy and a worthy Wales Care Award winner.

“Your fantastic enthusiasm and energy marvel us all, and your wonderful displays have enriched so many lives over the years, space men included.

“Your dedication and caring concern was felt far and wide during the pandemic too.

“You have made your mark dear Chris, forever in our hearts and best wishes for a happy, healthy, well deserved and greatly enriched retirement.”