Youngsters from a host of schools teamed up with care home residents to sing to a global beat at the 2019 Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.
The award-winning Pendine Park care organisation was hosting a morning of musical workshops as part of the annual festival’s Children’s Day activities.
The schoolchildren and the residents, some with dementia, from Pendine Park care homes in Wrexham belted out tunes from various parts of the world to fit in with the festival’s international theme.
Old and young joined melodic forces to clap and sway in time to the music and beat out some hot rhythms using maracas and tambourines.
Leading the sessions were Jenny Pearson, a freelance singer and tutor who has worked with the Welsh National Opera, along with Pendine Wrexham’s artist-in-residence Sarah Edwards and Nia Davies-Williams, the musician in residence at Pendine’s Bryn Seiont Newydd home in Caernarfon.
The workshops were part of Pendine’s pioneering enrichment programme, which enhances the experience of residents and also plays a key role in personal training and staff development.
Around 20 Pendine staff were on hand to make sure that the morning ran smoothly.
Loving every second of the sessions was 85-year-old Heather Davies, a resident of Pendine’s Hillbury care home in Wrexham.
Herself a grandmother of four, she said: “It’s not the first time I’ve come along to one of these music sessions at the eisteddfod and I just love watching and meeting the children who have such a good time.
“I’ve been singlng along with them and having a really good time.”
One of the school groups she harmonising with was a 46-strong contingent from St Paul’s in Isycoed, Wrexham.
Teacher Sandra Francis said: “We’ve been here a few times before and the children we bring always have lots of fun. They also like meeting the elderly people who are here. It’s definitely something different.”
This was certainly the case with six-year-old Harry Jones who said: “I like to do the singing and clapping best. I also enjoy walking around the eisteddfod and looking at things in the shops.”
Another Hillbury resident lapping up the occasion was 90-year-old Gwendoline Davies-Barratt.
“I’ve got eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren so I love being around children and seeing them enjoying the music, so today has been fantastic. It’s so good when old and young people can get together like this – and I’ve been singing and clapping along with them,” she said.
Jenny Pearson, who arranged the sessions, explained: “Any sort of inter-generational activity like this is just great and it’s been amazing to work with the residents and so many children.
“Throughout the morning we must have had hundreds of young people from lots of different schools coming through our tent.
“It’s good for older and younger people to enjoy themselves together and both groups have been really getting into the music.
“Because of the international flavour of the eisteddfod we’ve chosen some songs about animals from different parts of the world for today’s programme. We have one about a dog from the USA and another about a donkey with a calypso beat from the West Indies.”
Also enjoying the musical action was a group from Eyton Voluntary Controlled Primary School in Wrexham led by teacher Samantha Jesson who said: “We make a beeline for the Pendine tent ever year because the children enjoy the music and singing so much.
“It’s something a bit out of the ordinary for them and it’s very good for them to meet and speak to the residents who come along.”
Among the Eyton youngsters getting into the groove with the music was seven-year-old Betsan Mae Edwards who was sporting a smart Mickey Mouse hat specially for the occasion.
She said: “I like coming in here and singing along very much as I really love music.
“We’ve also been in the Pavilion to hear the Peace Message, which was nice, and now we’re going to look around the shops. It’s great.”
It was the same story with her friend Amelia Rose Jones, also seven, who said: “I like joining in the songs and waving a flag. I’ve also been tapping to the songs on my knees. I’ve been here before and I’d like to come again.”
Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft said: “A key element in what we do at Pendine Park is bringing together older people with dementia and the children.
“The workshops are about raising awareness that old age in nothing to be frightened of and understanding how the arts and music can help change people’s lives for the better.
“The workshops have been a regular feature of our support for the Llangollen Eisteddfod over the past six years.
“The Eisteddfod is a national treasure and we love to support it because of its message of peace and bringing the people of the world together and these sessions are an extension of that.”