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Intergenerational nativity play held in Plymouth

22 December 2022

PILGRIMS’ FRIEND SOCIETY

Residents and children at the Bethany Christian Home

Residents and children at the Bethany Christian Home

SCHOOLCHILDREN and residents of a Plymouth care home came together earlier this month to present an intergenerational nativity play in which the residents did the readings, the children enacted the story, and everyone sang the traditional carols.

The Bethany Christian Home, run by the Pilgrims’ Friend Society, approached Fletewood School to see whether they would like to join forces to present the play, not performing to the residents — referred to by the staff as “family members” — but with them.

PILGRIMS’ FRIEND SOCIETYThe nativity play at the Bethany Christian Home

Sally Lear, the activities and community engagement facilitator at the home, provided the script and the music. “Part of my job here is to encourage our family members to get involved, keep active, and have opportunities to continue enjoying the things they liked to do,” she said.

“They really enjoy having children come into the home, especially at Christmas time, for the joy and happiness they bring — and, in the case of those with dementia, for the unlocking of memories.

“And the residents like to share their faith with the next generation. Those reading the Bible passages read them with such meaning because they mean something to them; they believe in the story as a true story and a fundamental part of their faith.”

Everyone had dressed up in appropriate nativity wear, which in itself had brought back memories, she said.

For one couple — Anthony, who is 91, and Sarah, who is 84 — it brought back not only happy memories of their own early participation, but of more recent engagement as presenters of the Bible Society’s Open Book initiative in local schools.

Fletewood’s deputy head teacher, Jackie Cooper, said that the school loved giving the children the opportunity to socialise with people from older generations: “It’s just wonderful to see how the faces of both the children and the residents light up.” Eleven children, aged from seven to nine, had taken part in the performance, and, despite no opportunity for a dress rehearsal in situ, it had come together like clockwork, and had been “beautiful”.

PILGRIMS’ FRIEND SOCIETYThe children of Fletewood School at the Bethany Christian Home

TV crews were present at the event, but one child approached for comment had told them, quite unprompted, “We didn’t really come for the TV cameras. We’ve come here to help make this a very special Christmas.”

The school, an independent Christian school for children of all faiths, had a long-standing relationship with the home pre-Covid, and was delighted to be able to renew that friendship, Mrs Cooper said. As a result of the nativity play, they are planning monthly joint activities with the Bethany Home, perhaps beginning with something related to the Chinese New Year.

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