To celebrate National Storytelling Week, residents from Renaissance Care’s Beech Manor Care Home in Blairgowrie have re-lived some of their most treasured memories and shared their favourite life stories with children from St. Stephens Primary, as part of a special project.
Four residents from the care home were interviewed by the primary pupils, who will bring the senior citizen’s moments to life through a range of creative subjects including art, drama and literacy.
The children aged between 10 and 11 will then present the stories and memories back to care home residents in March to mark Intergenerational Week.
During the storytelling sessions, the children were given a glimpse into what life what was like for the residents born almost three generations apart.
Residents Dave, Beryl, Maureen and Janet relived their youth as they shared stories with four pupils who will be their dedicated story-tellers, helping their classmates to recreate the memories in their chosen form.
Janet Melville, 81, entertained Kian Donnelly with the romantic story of her life with her late husband of 50 years, Roy. Kian, 10, from primary six had a special interest in this story after striking up a great friendship during the school’s weekly visits with Roy before he passed away in December, 2019. *
Dave Hunnam, 72, a retired joiner was paired up with Antoni Kryger, 10, from primary five, telling his fond memories of his meeting his wife and tales of adventures from all over the world, including a trip to the exotic Seychelles in East Africa.
Krystyna Suchomska, 10, from primary five, is looking forward to retelling Beryl Linford’s (82) life story, from her favourite food which is a Mars Bar, to her time as a business entrepreneur, selling homemade knitted jumpers to American tourists visiting the Pictish stones in her hometown of Meigle.
Maureen Thomson, 89, shared her story with Maya Suchomska, 11, from primary seven. Maya will be retelling Maureen’s memories of being a mother to a family of three children and her time as a teacher for those with additional support needs.
This special project has been included as part of St Stephen’s general curriculum, which aims to give children variety in their learning through the arts and intergenerational socialising. The project also encourages the children to uphold the school values of ‘love, integrity, faith and tolerance’.
This project is part of a successful, ongoing partnership between St Stephen’s and the Blairgowrie care home, which is managed by Renaissance Care. Now in its fourth year, the partnership sees pupils visit the home weekly, which has became an important and much loved part of the school’s curriculum, providing pupils with an alternative learning environment, which can aid those for whom traditional classroom education does not offer optimal learning opportunities.
By enveloping this partnership into their general curriculum, St Stephen’s pupils have benefitted from improved citizenship skills, literacy and general health and wellbeing. The strong relationships built between the pupils and the residents has even extended to some of the children visiting their new friends during their weekends.
Sheila Baxter, activities co-ordinator at Renaissance Care’s Beech Manor home, said: “The residents love sharing their stories with the children during their weekly visit, so National Storytelling Week gives us a great opportunity to work together and use these stories as an educational experience for the kids.
“Interacting and sharing with the children is such a cherished part of the resident’s life at Beech Manor and they are really looking forward to seeing their stories brought to life by their friends at St Stephen’s Primary in March.”
Simon McKell, head teacher at St Stephen’s Roman Catholic Primary School, said: “When speaking to the children about their experiences in school and what they enjoy most, the visits to Beech Manor Care Home are consistently at the forefront. Our pupils and the residents have developed real friendships which offer both parties a different perspective on life.
“The children have loved listening to the stories by Dave, Beryl, Janet and Maureen, and are looking forward to retelling their tales through art, drama and story-writing, and presenting them back to their friends at the care home at Intergenerational Week in March.”
Beech Manor Care Home, managed by Renaissance Care, is a purpose-built home for elderly residents, which aims to provide the highest standard of care and support for their clients while making it feel like an extension of their own homes. Qualified care and nursing is provided round the clock, as well as a number of initiatives and activities focused on giving the resident’s the best quality of life.
St. Stephen’s Primary has applied for funding through the Gannochy Trust to support this project and to aid in their search for a local artist who would assist in capturing and representing the resident’s stories in comic form. If you are a local artist who wishes to get involved, please contact St Stephen’s Primary, Blairgowrie.