Musical care homes residents and the Mayor of Wrexham danced and jigged to Christmas tunes at a harmonious workshop with world class performers.
They got into the festive spirit at Cae Bryn care home, which is part of Pendine Park care organisation, in Wrexham, with members of the renowned Manchester-based Hallé orchestra.
The Mayor of Wrexham, Cllr Alan Edwards, joined in the fun, dancing with residents and singing along.
As well as festive favourites like Jingle Bells, the talented trio from the Hallé, violinist Caroline Abbott, oboist and keyboard player Hugh McKenna and cellist and keyboard player David Petri, performed requests from the residents, who played along with instruments of their own.
These included Welsh classics like Calon Lȃn’, music hall songs like It’s a Long Way to Tipperary and the popular Second World War song, The White Cliffs of Dover.
Care Bryn resident Eileen Lewis, 86, originally from Waterford in Ireland, who used to be a champion folk dancer, even had a dance with the Mayor of Wrexham.
She said: “The Hallé are very good. I love dancing and we’ve definitely been getting into the Christmas spirit here.
“Back in Ireland I was a champion folk dancer and I used to perform in competitions all over the country. The Hallé played a couple of Irish numbers for me. I love the Irish Jig. The songs brought back a lot of fond memories.”
Mayor Edwards added: “It’s lovely here at Pendine Park. As soon as you walk in you get the feeling that it’s a nice place. The staff are fantastic with the residents.
“The Hallé are fantastic musicians, and I really enjoyed doing the Irish Jig.”
Alan Hasall, 67, a resident of Pendine Park’s Bryn Bella care home, has fond memories of listening to the Hallé as a child.
He said: “The Hallé are exceptional. I was born in Manchester and I used to go and see the full orchestra on school trips so this brings back a lot of wonderful memories.
“I never thought I’d do so much dancing after I retired. I’m really enjoying myself today. The performance is lovely. I just love the melodic music they play.
“I do a lot of art at Pendine, and I especially like doing calligraphy. The location here is beautiful and I go for walks around the grounds and visit the different homes so see my friends.”
David Petri, a regular visitor to Pendine Park, said: “Pendine Park has helped buy some instruments for the residents to use in the sessions. Music is a very powerful memory tool. Someone who cannot talk can still express themselves through music, even if it is just moving their hands or fingers.
“This is one of the best things we do, it’s very rewarding.”
Pendine Park’s Artist-in-Residence, Sarah Edwards, added: “Everyone at Pendine Park is getting into the festive spirit. We’ve decorated all of the homes, and had our Christmas light switch on.
“The residents have been dancing away and enjoying it. We try and play songs that have a personal meaning to the residents.
“The workshops with the Hallé are part of our enrichment programme. We also do a lot of other things to enrich the lives of the residents like arts and crafts.”
Lynn Bullen, 75, whose daughter Jayne Jones, 50, is a resident at Bryn Bella at Pendine Park, after suffering a brain haemorrhage, added: “Having the Hallé here is very good for the residents. They enjoy it so much, and when the carers get up and dance it’s quite amusing.
“Though Jayne is in a wheelchair, and finds it difficult to express herself, she is still active mentally, so she really enjoys something stimulating like this.”