Monthly Archives: September 2018

Derek Edge

“I was bought a smart phone and my first thought was ‘well the phone might be smart but I am not’. I did say that there is more chance of me flying a 747 across the Atlantic than working the damn thing.  So I searched around and I came across Digital Buddies at Storyhouse in Chester. I’ve already been twice and I’ve found it helpful.  You come away from the initial experience more confident to be able to work things out afterwards.”

Love Later Life Festival

A Celebration of Later Life

The UK’s population is getting older. For every 1,000 people aged 16 to 64, there are 285 people aged 65 and over (according to July 2017 Office for National Statistics).

It is the International Day of Older Persons on 1st October, closely followed by ‘Silver Sunday’ on 7th October which is an annual day of fun activities for older people in the UK. To celebrate, Storyhouse, in collaboration with Age UK Cheshire and Brightlife, is holding a ‘Love Later Life’ festival of workshops, theatre, song and wellbeing on 1st and 2nd October and 7th October.

The Love Later Life festival will see a range of fun, creative and informative events all geared towards the over 50’s, all completely free of charge. With everything from laughter yoga to later life financial planning, the festival is focused on welcoming older people into the cultural centre and celebrating their wisdom and experience.

Storyhouse Artistic Director, Alex Clifton, said: “Our culture is very biased towards the young. As our population ages, we need to build a society which is kinder, more generous to its elders. We are delighted to be working together with Age UK Cheshire and Brightlife for the Love Later Life festival. There is something for everyone over the three days and I am looking forward to welcoming Chester’s older residents to Storyhouse as they take part in the many and varied activities.”

The event kicks off on Monday 1st October with a Poetry Open Mic in the Garrett Theatre, (slightly ahead of National Poetry Day which is on Thursday 4th October), compered and headlined by Joy France (Nationwide Poetry Campaign 2017).

Cheshire’s 2004 Poet Laureate John Lindley will be taking to the mic along with other performers who have been discovered from some of Brightlife’s projects, including Ray Thompson (90) and Audrey Thomas (90). Over the years Ray has received several accolades for his poems including a letter of thanks from President George Bush. Audrey only discovered a talent for poetry writing when she started attending Brightlife get-togethers in Malpas and credits the project with helping her make new friends and get out of the house.

Dale Maskell, Chief Executive of Age UK Cheshire, said: “We can’t wait to welcome people to the Love Later Life festival at Storyhouse! If there’s a secret to being healthy and happy in later life we believe that staying active, connected, learning new skills and being able to share your life experiences is a major factor.”

Chris McClelland, Head of Brightlife, said: “On its simplest level, it’s about feeling part of something bigger than you. We see time and again how the arts and opportunities for creative expression can help start conversations, open discussions, trigger precious memories or just bring like-minded people together through a fun activity.”

A full programme of activities is available at or click here to download a programme of events.

An Afternoon of Roald Dahl

‘Never Grow Up, Always Down’ North West charity urges Cheshire residents ahead of Roald Dahl Day event series

The Reader arrives in Chester with an evening of Roald Dahl for big kids at The Storyhouse.

Local charity The Reader is launching a Shared Reading campaign in Cheshire on Roald Dahl Day with an evening at Storyhouse celebrating the magic of reading aloud with adults.

The ‘Evening of Roald Dahl’ event, from 6pm to 8pm on Thursday 13th September, will showcase some of the author’s lesser-known adults’ stories, including The Umbrella Man.

Well known for his enchanting and enduring tales for children, Dahl also wrote 51 short stories for adults, collected in four books, some of which might not be suitable for small ears, they are: Over to You; Kiss, Kiss; Someone Like You and Switch Bitch.

The event is part of The Reader’s Cheshire roadshow, created for October’s Voluntary Arts and Age UK Age of Creativity festival, which is designed to get more older people involved in creative activities.

The roadshow will see The Reader popping up for ‘An Afternoon of Roald Dahl’ in Northwich Library on 1st October and at Ellesmere Port Library on 3rd October, both from 1pm to 3pm. It will then head back to Storyhouse on 7th October to celebrate Silver Sunday, with Shared Reading sessions at 2pm and 3pm, in collaboration with Brightlife as part of Age UK Cheshire’s Love Later Life festival.

The Reader was founded in Liverpool a decade ago and is now supporting 500 Shared Reading groups up and down the country every single week, including more than 200 in the North West.

The Storyhouse already hosts two of these groups. The Cheshire campaign will see the launch of 10 more, led by 20 new local volunteers, in a variety of community, dementia and mental health centres across the county.

“Isolation among adults has been shown to be a public health problem in Cheshire, as it is across the country, with more than 2 million people suffering from chronic loneliness,” said The Reader’s founder and chief executive Jane Davis.

We’re now appealing for the people of Cheshire to join the reading revolution – particularly those who are keen to build Shared Reading communities in Chester, Northwich, Ellesmere Port, Weaverham and Tarporley. As Roald Dahl said in his final children’s book, The Minpins, ‘those who don’t believe in magic will never find it’, so come along to one of our roadshow events to experience it in action.

This project is supported by Brightlife Cheshire, a coalition of organisations working together to help reduce social isolation among people aged over 50 in Cheshire West and Chester, as well as the NHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group, responsible for commissioning health and care services across the area, with a particular focus on dementia and mental health for this project.

Evaluation carried out by The Reader and the University of Liverpool has shown that Shared Reading groups can improve wellbeing, reduce social isolation and build stronger, more supportive communities.

Groups are free to attend and open to everyone regardless of age, ability or background. Weekly sessions are led by a trained Reader Leader who brings something – a short story, poem, play or novel – to be read aloud and discussed by the group.

By reading with purpose, and sharing thoughts and reflections, many group members find personal meaning in the literature and form strong social connections with others.

“It’s fantastic to see The Reader taking part in Brightlife’s Silver Sunday celebrations at Storyhouse in Chester,” said Chris McClelland, Head of Brightlife. “This project is a wonderful example of how the arts, culture or just a shared interest can really bring people together to help combat loneliness in our borough.”




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