Youngsters from a Flintshire primary school have given a thumbs-up to a heart-warming play about the impact of dementia seen through the eyes of a young boy.
Pupils of Ysgol Gwenffrwd, Holywell, attended a performance of Ŵy, Chips A Nain (Egg, Chips and Grandma in Welsh) at Theatr Clwyd in Mold.
The play tells the moving story of young Guto and how the cruel condition affects his relationship with his beloved grandmother.
Guto loves spending time with his Nain and story involves a boat trip to Ireland, picnics by the sea, semaphore flags and fairies turning children into sausages.
The production is on a nationwide tour that’s been sponsored by the award-winning Pendine Park organisations which has eight care homes in Wrexham and Caernarfon and specialise in looking after people with dementia.
It’s been written by Welsh language poet and musician Gwyneth Glyn who visited Pendine’s Bryn Seiont Newydd dementia centre in Caernarfon to speak to the residents and staff as part of her research.
The result is a co-production between the Welsh language theatre company, Frȃn Wen, Galeri Caernarfon.
Ysgol Gwenffrwd Year Six pupils Bea Thomas, 11, and Emma Rowland, 10, from Holywell, were among the audience in the Emlyn Williams Theatre for the performance and afterwards Bea said: “It was very emotional and very good.
“I know that older people can often forget things, but the play made it very realistic.”
Emma added: “It was good to understand more about what people go through.
“It was very realistic to see how people feel if they’re going through this and the effect it has on their lives.”
Author Gwyneth Glyn said: “Telling the story through the eyes of a young boy means it isn’t a dark story and because it’s important to offer the audience some light, hope and humour.
“It’s really a crystallisation of the relationship a boy has with his grandmother and how that changes as her dementia takes hold. Guto goes to his Nain’s for tea after school and always enjoys egg and chips.
“It’s through this every day event of cooking egg and chips that we see the condition develop and how he sees the adult looking after him deteriorating due to her dementia. I don’t want to spoil the play but the ending is, I hope, poignant but full of hope.
“I really wanted to get the message across that dementia doesn’t mean the end of a relationship but instead, in many ways, it enriches lives.
“I wanted to see for myself how dementia affected people so I worked with Bryn Seiont Newydd’s musician-in-residence, Nia Davies Williams.
“It was a really enlightening experience and increased my depth of understanding of the condition and also gave me a great deal of hope as I saw how lives are enriched through music and art.”
Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE said: “My wife, Gill, and I are delighted to be able to support the play which will help get the message out about the devastating effects of what is a terrible disease.
“We have a track record in supporting the arts and storytelling. Whether through the spoken word or music, art has an important role to play. We are passionate about what we do.
“We are a community-based organisation that likes working with community groups and Frȃn Wen certainly ticks all the boxes.
“We particularly wanted to support this production as it was inspired by Gwyneth’s visits to Bryn Seiont Newydd and we felt it was a perfect fit with the Pendine Arts and Community Trust which also provides funding for another 23 organisations.
“It also resonated with me personally because my own grandmother had dementia towards the end of her life and trying to find somewhere suitable was the reason I became involved in social care in the first place.”
Bryn Seiont Newydd’s musician-in-residence, Nia Davies Williams, said: “It’s a fantastic and interesting project. I really like the inter-generational aspect which allows children to get an understanding of dementia.
“Gwyneth’s script is wonderful, very sensitive and tells the story of dementia through the eyes of a child. I see dementia every day and no two people are the same but Gwyneth has really captured the affect dementia has on people.”