A leading Welsh actor and singer tapped into his experiences working at care home for people with dementia in his latest starring role.
Emyr Gibson, the creative practitioner at Pendine Park’s Bryn Seiont Newydd care home in Caernarfon, plays the son of a man living with dementia in a film living with the cruel disease.
It was made by Wild Rice Films on behalf of National Museums Liverpool who have linked up with the Welsh Government to launch House of Memories Cymru.
The project is an expansion of the Merseyside organisation’s innovative dementia awareness programme which offers training, access to resources, and museum-based activities to enable carers to provide person-centred care for people living with dementia.
Emyr said: “The chance to appear in this film came out of the blue. My agent asked me to send a selftape audition to the producers of the film which I did and mentioned I had worked with dementia sufferers and their families. They called me and I spoke more about my experiences and I got the part.”
Filming took place in the spring at the National Folk Museum at St Fagan near Cardiff and in Liverpool.
“The film is set around the father’s birthday who is taken out for the day to revive old memories. It also features a lady called Sian who enjoys visiting museums. We filmed the scenes in Welsh and English,” he said.
Emyr has been a professional actor for more than 20 years and is probably best known for playing Meical in the popular Welsh soap opera ‘Rownd a Rownd’ on S4C.
But he has also appeared in many other popular drama programmes on television channels in Wales.
Among the drama series Emyr appeared in two series of Craith, a series which was also filmed in English as Hidden and broadcast on BBC4 and sold internationally.
He has also appeared in Deian a Loli, the hugely popular children’s show made by Caernarfon-based independent production company Cwmni Da.
As a member of Trio, Cymru Emyr has sung on stages across Wales and appeared on the popular S4C programme Noson Lawen.
The short film was first shown at the launch of the new House of Memories Cymru app at Y Senedd in Cardiff (on October 2).
Funded by the Welsh Government, House of Memories Cymru will deliver a dual-language dementia awareness programme, that will include a range of training, app packages, and activities to support care givers.
The app features memories of Wales, Welsh people and their communities and aims to connect, engage and improve the lives of Welsh people living with dementia and their loved ones across Wales.
Through the House of Memories Cymru app package, users can search through a live museum of Welsh items and personalise their experience to include memories that are particularly strong for them.
Sandra Evans, the manager of Bryn Seiont Newydd, said: “I am sure that Emyr’s role here will have brought real depth and understanding to his character in the film.
“New resources like this will I am sure be invaluable and I’m delighted that one of the many stars among our team at Pendine Park has played a part in making this groundbreaking film.
“Emyr is multi-talented and a great asset in brightening the lives our residents at Bryn Seiont Newydd, as well as being kind, caring and compassionate.”
Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Dawn Bowden, said: “I’m delighted that we’ve been able to support House of Memories Cymru which celebrates Welsh culture and invaluable role Welsh museums play in supporting older people and those living with dementia.
Carol Rogers, director of National Museums Liverpool, said: “We are thrilled to launch House of Memories Cymru and add a bespoke Welsh package to our international House of Memories programme. The country of Wales has a rich and diverse cultural heritage that has had a huge influence on Liverpool, and it is a privilege to work in partnership with museum colleagues across Wales, to support the Welsh dementia community.
“We hope the programme will not only help improve the lives of people living with dementia, but also be the catalyst for meaningful connections between them and their families or carers.”