Two generations came together at a Gwynedd care home to celebrate the Welsh patron saint of love.
School children and residents at Pendine Park’s Bryn Seiont Newydd in Caernarfon worked hand in hand to produce a special artwork featuring Santes Dwynwen.
Youngsters from Ysgol yr Hendre, in the town, have been visiting the care home since early January in an innovative programme designed to bridge the gap between generations.
The seven and eight-year olds have interacting with residents via various arts and crafts activities and firm friendships are being built up between the two age groups.
Bryn Seiont Newydd enrichment co-ordinator Elliw Jones led the activity, asking the children and residents to create a collage to celebrate Santes Dwynwen using small pieces of coloured tissue paper, paint, glitter and glue on a paper plate.
“I’m asking them to create lots of colourful patterns and to help each other as much as they can. It’s a very special experience for the children and the older residents are helping them as much as they can.
“Having the pupils from Ysgol yr Hendre visit Bryn Seiont Newydd is a real joy. The residents have become great friends with the pupils in a very short time and it’s lovely to see the children talking so freely to the residents and working alongside each other, chatting and helping each other,” she said.
The tale of Dwynwen is steeped in Welsh folklore. Forbidden by her father, Brychan, to marry her sweetheart, Maelon because she had already promised her to someone else, Dwynwen retreated to Ynys Llanddwyn off the Anglesey coast to live the life of a recluse until her death, in about 460AD.
Dwynwen is said to have studied the healing properties of local herbs and thus was able to cure many illnesses and people from all over Wales visited her holy well at which the movement of fish within its waters was believed to indicate lovers’ destinies.
Ysgol yr Hendre classroom assistant Libby Thomas said the children looked forward to the visits to Bryn Seiont Newydd.
“They are from Year 3 and there are 50 children in the group split into two classes so we bring them to Bryn Seiont Newydd in groups of about 10 at a time so they all have an opportunity to meet the residents and take part in art and craft work.
“The children have reacted magnificently to the challenge of meeting people they did not know previously and have certainly developed new skills and have done so carefully and with empathy. Coming here these past few weeks have certainly been an eye opener for them.”
The visit brought back many happy memories for one Bryn Seiont Newydd resident in particular.
Huw Williams attended Ysgol yr Hendre, which is situated near to Segontium, the old Roman fort in Caernarfon, as a young boy.
“That was many years ago now and the school has changed a lot. It’s moved to a new building of course and there are lots more children at the school as well these days.
“When I was there in the late 1960s we didn’t have a school uniform either, we just wore our ordinary, everyday clothes. But we did painting and craft work just like this so that hasn’t changed,” he said.
Fellow resident Marie Hughes, originally from Holyhead, helped the youngsters sitting with her to make tightly folded paper flowers to glue onto their collages.
“It has been just lovely working with the children, they’ve been a breath of fresh air,” she said.
Pupils Frankie Jones, eight, and her friend, Awel Jones, seven, said they had enjoyed working with the residents at Bryn Seiont Newydd.
“It’s been cool making the collages and meeting and working with the residents. I worked with Eve who was funny because she had a pink feather in her hair,” said Frankie.
Pendine’s musician-in-residence, Nia Davies Williams, said: “Groups of children from Ysgol yr Hendre have been visiting Bryn Seiont Newydd since the start of term and it is so lovely to see them interact with the residents.
“Some of the residents and the children might be a little reticent at the start but the barriers are soon broken down and it is wonderful to see the relationship between them blossom as the initial shyness gives way to hugs as the children head off back to their school.”