Denbigh music therapist on track to win top arts award

Ceri Rawson said she found her niche in the neighborhood, rekindling joyful memories in the hearts of older men and women through the power of music.

Now her project on behalf of Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias (William Mathias Music Center) and Pendine Park Care Organization in Wrexham has been shortlisted for the prestigious Arts and Business Cymru Awards 2024.

Ceri said of the nomination: “The fact that we were shortlisted for this award is also down to all the fantastic staff at Pendine who have helped us make this scheme a success story.

“Their dedication is unparalleled and their commitment to the people in their care is clear every time I visit.

“The staff are very engaged and great at energizing the residents and ensuring they get the maximum benefit from each music therapy session.”

Ceri, from Bylchau, just outside Denbigh, began visiting Pendine Park as part of the award-winning care group’s partnership with Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias, which provides high-quality music training and performance experiences to the people of Wales.

The two organizations have been brought together through the innovative CultureStep program set up by charity Arts and Business Cymru to promote and facilitate collaboration between businesses and the arts in Wales.

In this context, Pendine Park signed up to sponsor the Wales International Harp Festival at the Galeri Caernarfon Arts Centre.

In return, the music group agreed to commission Seri to conduct therapy sessions for residents at various nursing homes in Pendine Park, Wrexham.

Ceri qualified as a music therapist 15 years ago after working as a music teacher for several years. She has worked with mental health organizations, hospices, rehabilitation programs and forensic security units.

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But she said it wasn’t until she started working with people with dementia that she truly found her calling.

She said: “I loved every minute of working in the nursing home. When I became involved in this valuable project at Pendine Park, I found a lot to gain from the first lesson.

“It is clear to me that staff are fully involved in music therapy sessions and they fully understand how important music is in triggering emotions and memories in people who would otherwise have difficulty recalling important times, people and places in the short term. .

“Research shows that music has the ability to unlock long-term memories, so people with dementia can mentally relive some of the happy moments in their past lives.

“I have seen firsthand how family members are better able to talk to their loved ones when the person with dementia begins to remember people and events that are closely associated with the music we play.”

Pendine Park artist-in-residence Sarah Edwards praised Seri’s extraordinary ability, especially for older residents, to create pathways to happy memories.

“It’s such a joy to see these meetings,” she said. “I don’t know how she does it, but Seri remembers every resident’s name and their likes and dislikes.

Denbighshire Free Press: Ceri is at Pendine Park, Wrexham.Kerry at Pendine Park in Wrexham. (Image: Submitted)

“She seemed to instinctively know what styles of music people might respond to and chose songs that fit their mood at the time.

“She could slowly put a smile on someone’s face who was just feeling a little lost or sad.

“As a care organization we are grateful to Cymru Arts and Business for helping us set up this scheme through their CultureStep funding scheme. We are also very grateful to Canolfan Gerdd William Matthias for introducing us to Ceri and her wonderful work.

“We were delighted to learn that this project had been shortlisted in the Arts, Business and Health category of the annual Cymru Arts and Business Awards.

“It’s definitely a reward for Ceri and all the hard work she puts in for Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias. She currently runs two 45-minute sessions for us every week and has had a huge impact on the residents who love to attend.

She added: “I’m really proud that we have been shortlisted for this honour. It’s a tribute to all the people who have worked so hard to build this programme.

Tracey Smith, administrator at Pendine Highfield Nursing Home, said: “I’m delighted that this lovely scheme has been recognised, as it plays a very real role in improving the quality of life for our beloved residents and staff.

“Art, and music in particular, is at the heart of everything we do at Pendine and Ceri’s amazing curriculum fits perfectly with our long-standing ethos.”

Gwenno Angharad, Director of Partnerships for Arts and Business North Wales at Cymru, said: “We are delighted that the 2024 Awards judges have shortlisted this project in the Health category. Congratulations to both parties on such a meaningful collaboration.

“We are delighted to support this project through CultureStep, A&B Cymru’s investment program designed to strengthen and expand creative partnerships.

“The A&B Cymru Awards exist to encourage, recognize and celebrate exemplary partnerships between the private sector and the arts. The winners will be announced at a formal dinner and awards ceremony on Thursday 4 July at the Wales International Conference Center in Newport announced.

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