• Thu. May 30th, 2024

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Newcastle Care Home Resident Celebrates With HRH Prince Charles in London

A 90-year-old resident of The Grove in Gosforth attended a reception at St James Palace last month to celebrate with HRH Prince Charles.

Winifred Spoor, of the Abbeyfield Care Home in Newcastle, was invited to a reception with HRH Prince Charles at St James’s Palace.

This year her artwork has toured nationally as part of the Golden Gallery Art & Soul Exhibition – a pioneering exhibition highlighting the therapeutic benefits art brings to older people. The exhibition was curated to mark the 60th anniversary of Abbeyfield.

Winifred was invited by St James’s Palace to bring a piece of artwork to show the Prince, also a keen artist. She attended with her daughter Catherine, who said:

“It was an amazing and very special day for my mum. Something that you don’t expect to happen when you’re 90. His Royal Highness was lovely. He took the time to talk to my mum about her pictures. He was interested to know about the views she had painted and I explained they are what she sees from her room at The Grove.”

The celebration at St James Palace, hosted by The Prince of Wales marked the 60th anniversary of Abbeyfield and his 37 years of being Abbeyfield’s Patron too. It also coincided with his 68th birthday and he was treated to a special rendition of Happy Birthday, lead by singer and television presenter Aled Jones, a fellow Abbeyfield patron.

The Prince spoke to beneficiaries, staff and supporters of Abbeyfield, hearing all about the work it does and new initiatives to support older people. The Prince joked about understanding exactly what it takes to look after the elderly as he himself enters his 68th year. He also congratulated Abbeyfield on sticking true to our founding ethos of alleviating loneliness and promoting later life as a time to be enjoyed.

Talented artist Winifred is supported and encouraged to paint by staff at Abbeyfield’s The Grove in Gosforth where she lives. Ongoing health problems mean that Winifred finds speech difficult at times, and art is an important way for her to express herself.

A series of debilitating strokes left Winifred struggling to speak, leaving her frustrated at being unable to express the words and thoughts she could form so clearly in her mind.

A passionate artist, who honed her skills through an art course at Newcastle College as a mature student, Winifred’s family noticed her starting to doodle the garden views from her bedroom window at Abbeyfield onto a scrap of paper with a biro pen.

Supported by her family and The Grove care staff who bought her a watercolour set and artist materials, Winifred set about resuming the pastime she loved.

Unable to grip the paintbrush at first, Winifred persisted and with encouragement she began creating vivid watercolours of the colourful views from her bedroom window of the house’s gardens, floral displays and the wildlife living in it. Now, she is a prolific painter and her days are filled with creating artworks that shimmer with life and colour. And while she still struggles with her speech, art has given Winifred a creative outlet and sense of purpose to her daily routine.

John Connelly CEO Abbeyfield, Newcastle said;

“At Abbeyfield, we champion optimism in later life. It is great that Winifred has been able to enjoy these amazing opportunities at the age of 90. A key part of what we aim to do at Abbeyfield is to enrich people’s lives with stimulating activities so they interact with others and enjoy happy and varied lives.

“Creating art is so important for older people. Art not only gives people an outlet and a voice for their thoughts and ideas, it helps them to feel valued and is also incredibly therapeutic.”

Winifred’s art in the Golden Gallery Art & Soul exhibition has been on show in Beamish Museum, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Nottingham City Arts Headquarters, St Albans and Belfast. The exhibition is an evocative collection of artwork created by Abbeyfield residents living in its care homes and supported houses across the UK.

Winifred’s  daughter Catherine said: “People think that when you go into residential care you have to give everything up, but my mum is proof that it doesn’t have to be like that. Mum’s art has become a conversation starter. We can talk about colours and about what we can see looking out of the window and how mum has interpreted that. It gives us a new piece to talk about and share.”

Abbeyfield is a charity that provides the elderly with a secure home and where they can find friendship and support. Richard Carr-Gomm founded Abbeyfield in 1956. He saw the need to help the elderly; many live alone and feel isolated within their own communities. Now there are over 500 homes and houses throughout the United Kingdom, including The Grove in Gosforth, operated by staff and volunteers. His Royal Highness became the Royal Patron in 1979.