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Community painting class is a ‘saviour’ for residents this Christmas – ‘It keeps spirits high!’

A group of retirees from Herne Bay say their retirement development’s painting class has given them a new lease of life, particularly during this festive season.

The class takes place at FirstPort’s independent-living retirement development Parkside Court in Herne Bay, Kent. Residents from the nearby development, Richmond Court, as well as friends of residents, are also invited to join and try out their painting skills.

Art teacher Esther, who has 15 years of experience as a painter, and has had exhibitions of her work locally is also a resident at Parkside Court, set up the class to help others in the retirement community explore their art skills and find freedom in painting.

Esther explained:

“I can see lots of people have got talent and skills and they don’t ever pursue it. Our Development Manager, Clay, suggested setting up this class where I can help develop that skill. It’s really well attended, and the residents really enjoy the experience.

“The class really is for everyone, and they all benefit from it in one way or another. One of our students is 95 and she is excellent. She attends the afternoon class, and she told me the other day that it has given her a new lease of life.”

During each class, the group – who are aged between 67 and 95 – are given a painting to recreate using watercolours.

This week, residents have been creating a painting of a snow-covered lodge to mark the Christmas season.

Resident John Savage, 84, who had never painted before joining the group, said it has made a huge difference to his quality of life, especially during the Christmas season.

He explained:

I’ve been experiencing some changes in my mental health and this class is really helping me a lot. Esther has been our saviour.

“It’s a wonderful class and I’ve met a few more people through the group.”

The group first got together at the beginning of August with only six residents, and it has grown in popularity, so much so, that there is both a two-hour morning and two-hour afternoon class every Friday with 22 students.

Residents have also been showcasing their work in a temporary art exhibition at the retirement development. Esther explained:

“We did an exhibition and we’ve had lots of praise about it, and some people have even purchased the paintings. The art exhibition has been so well received by residents and their families it will become a permanent rotating attraction in the lobby at Parkside Court.”

Carol, who lives nearby to the developments, was invited to join the class with her husband. She said:

A friend of mine comes here and she invited us to come along. We thoroughly enjoy it.

“I used to paint when I was younger, and Esther is helping to bring it all back. What was there before is beginning to come out and I am improving each session. Esther is a good teacher! For two hours you’re forgetting everything, and it is very calming and peaceful.”

Clay Godden, FirstPort Development Manager at Parkside Court, says the classes have been a huge success.

He added:

“It’s especially important to me that residents feel they have activities and clubs to join so they can enjoy being around others in our community – it certainly keeps spirits high. This time of the year can be quite isolating for those on their own so it’s lovely that we have groups like the painting club for our residents, and their friends, to enjoy.”