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Student organises free festive lunch and theatre visit for the elderly in Wrexham

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December 14 2015

A generous student determined to brighten Christmas for the elderly after witnessing dementia within her own family treated care home residents to a free festive dinner and theatre show.

Louise Handley arranged for residents of Stansty House and Broughton Hall, Wrexham, to enjoy a traditional Christmas lunch and watch a performance of A Christmas Carol at Glyndŵr University, where she studies business.

Recognising that Christmas can be a lonely time for many older people, 30-year-old Louise started providing presents and helping out at events for the elderly in her community in Harrow, London, a few years ago.

And wishing to bring similar happiness to those in Wrexham, she started fundraising and worked with the university’s careers centre to access money through a National Lottery funded programme, A Degree of Responsibility.

The funds paid for 35 residents to enjoy lunch followed by Glyndŵr University theatre and performance students’ production of the classic Charles Dickens tale.

Louise said: “I have a lot of elderly relatives and one day was visiting my grandmother in a dementia home when I discovered that one of the residents there didn’t have any visitors at Christmas.

“The next time I visited I took her a present and she was so grateful, her face just lit up. From that point on I started doing more and more to try and improve the quality of life for elderly people, everything from buying them a Christmas gift to doing their food shopping.

“I’ve seen how lonely Christmas can be for them and I wanted to give those in Wrexham something they could enjoy and remember this Christmas.”

Maureen McDonough, deputy matron at Stansty House, said: “It was a fantastic event and everyone enjoyed it. The visit brought the community nursing homes back into the community and all of our residents enjoyed talking to people at the university – they enjoyed the conversation and meeting new people.”

One of the guests at the dinner and show was Broughton Hall’s eldest resident, 105-year-old Beatrice Griffiths.

Hayley Jones, Broughton Hall’s activities coordinator, said: “It was such a lovely event. We’ve never been invited to anything like this before. Everyone loved being out for the afternoon and visiting the university.”

The A Degree of Responsibility (ADOR) project, which provided part of the funding for the event, is a National Lottery funded initiative designed to support graduates by creating work experience opportunities in the community.

Lucy Jones, work experience officer at Glyndŵr University’s careers centre, said: “Louise worked incredibly hard raising funds for the event and we were delighted to be able to support her efforts through the ADOR project.

“Louise was supported by a group of eight students from health and education degrees who by being involved in this project have developed their employability skills.”

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