GrandFest Cymru, a festival celebrating the heritage skills of talented older people and proudly presented by charity, Royal Voluntary Service, took place in Cardiff today.

The one day, family-friendly festival took place at St Fagans National Museum of History in Cardiff with a series of free Masterclasses – from quilting, rag rugging and embroidery to bread making and international dance – hosted by the GrandMakers, all of whom are over 70.

GrandMakers from the following regions took part:

  • Clive Lillow (77) from Abergavenny – Bread Making
  • Robi Thomas (70) from Swansea – Rag rugging
  • Dian Carol Smith (70) from Morriston, Swansea – Quilting
  • John Gates (76) from Maesteg – Embroidery
  • David Johnson from Ross-on-Wye – Wood turning
  • Lizzie Simmonds from Corwen, Denbighshire – Welt Felting

The Masterclasses were held at different times throughout the day and inspired younger generations to discover and learn new skills. The Cowbridge Male Voice Choir also performed.

Royal Voluntary Service has been hosting GrandFest for three years, as a way to celebrate the many skills possessed by older people and to highlight the importance of continuing to enjoy and share these skills in later life. GrandFest has traditionally only been held in London’s famous Spitalfields area, but Royal Voluntary Service has added this Cardiff date to ensure people from all over the country get to enjoy what has fast become a popular fun family day out.

John Gates, (76) from Maesteg who shared his embroidery know-how at GrandFest Cymru, said; “Growing up in Maesteg all the women in our street were skilled needlewomen; everyone knew how to mend and make-do and I remember being fascinated watching at my mother’s knee. In the 1970s as a collier my interest was renewed when I needed something to fill my time. Fifty years later I have researched and learnt different needlework techniques from around the world. Using woollen samples I’ve bought in charity I have been showing people how they can take any old woollen garment and give it a complete style makeover.”

Dian Carol Smith (70) a Master Quilter from Morriston, Swansea, said: “My masterclass was all about the process of quilting and how to sew layers of fabric together. Quilting is very useful and once you understand the techniques, you can create beautiful gifts for anyone.”

David McCullough, Chief Executive of Royal Voluntary Service said: “We know how much value older people place on their hobbies, but these pastimes are so much more than just fun. They play a really important role in the lives of older people, from staving off fragility and dementia, to helping them keep physically active and bringing friends together. Many of our 36,000 volunteers are over 65 years old and they, and the older people we support, have a wealth of experiences and skills worth sharing which is why GrandFest was conceived.”

The event is being supported by McCarthy & Stone, the UK’s leading retirement housebuilder who will host a series of GrandFest related celebrations at its developments across the country.

Clive Fenton, Chief Executive Officer for McCarthy & Stone said: “Older people have so many traditional skills to share. Skills that we as a nation, do not want to lose. And that’s what GrandFest Cymru is all about. It’s a free, fun event to celebrate talented older people and the heritage skills they can pass down through the generations. For those not able to make the event in Cardiff, we will be hosting a series of mini GrandFest celebrations at developments across the country.”

Royal Voluntary Service is one of the biggest volunteer organisations in the UK, which supports thousands of older people in Wales a month. The charity runs services such as Community Champions, Lunch and Dining Clubs, Exercise and Dance Classes and Books-on-Wheels, that help older people in Wales remain independent and connected with their local community. Royal Voluntary Service also provides practical support for older people who have been in hospital through its On Ward support and Home from Hospital services and via its network of retail shops and cafes.

For further information about GrandFest Cymru visit: www.Grandfest.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk