AN innovative music project bringing together children and people in their 70s, 80s and 90s living at a Gwynedd extra care scheme has proved a huge success.

Eighteen older people at Awel y Coleg’s extra care scheme in Bala have been joined by the pupils, ranging in age from four to seven, from Ysgol Bro Tryweryn, Frongoch, to participate in three specially created music sessions, aimed at tackling loneliness using the arts.

The three-month project spearheaded by professional musicians from Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias was commissioned to help tackle loneliness in older people living in rural Gwynedd.

Introductory sessions were held at both the school and Awel y Coleg at the beginning of the project, before both generations came together to share their musical abilities and talents at Grwp Cynefin’s extra care facility at Bala.

The project ‘Music Memories - Connecting Generations’ was trialled using alternative methods of reaching and working with older people in two rural areas - Bala and Gellilydan near Blaenau Ffestiniog.

One of the participants, 82-year-old Helen Margaret Roberts from Bala, said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the sessions, as it brought both of my great joys together - singing and spending time with children.”

A former primary school teacher, who spent part of her professional life teaching youngsters in Liverpool, Mrs Roberts said: “It’s been a breath of fresh air singing with the children, and has brought back to me some wonderful memories of my days teaching youngsters.”

Siân Ellis from Grwp Cynefin housing association, which owns Awel y Coleg, said: “Our residents are fortunate to have community facilities, including a restaurant and rooms suitable for hosting activities and relaxing, as well as their own personal and private flats. But loneliness and the feeling of isolation is a real issue for many older people in north Wales."

During the last session on 3 March, friends, families and parents were invited to attend a concert-style performance at Awel y Coleg, where residents and children performed some of the songs. They included Welsh favourites Oes Gafr eto?, Holi a Ci Ci and a special song composed by one of William Mathias’ tutors, Marie-Claire Howorth.

Read the full story in this week’s north editions of the Cambrian News