Participants, volunteers, staff and arts practitioners welcomed HRH The Earl of Wessex to Independent Arts Creative Hub in Newport on Tuesday afternoon. The visit was arranged by the Lord-Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight Susie Sheldon as part of the Jubilee celebrations. The Earl and Countess of Wessex met a range of organisations that have worked tirelessly to support islanders through the Covid-19 pandemic.
During the hour-long visit to the arts for wellbeing charity, The Earl, a longstanding supporter of the arts, joined in with a demonstration of therapeutic Singing for Breathing and toured the Heritage Newport Mills gallery exhibition of art installations created by Young Carers, the Newport Scouts and Year 5 students from St Helen’s Primary School. His Royal Highness also learnt about the charity’s wellbeing workshops in care homes around the island, meeting some of the hugely talented musicians and artists who bring such joy to residents, particularly those with dementia.
The Earl heard about arts for wellbeing projects supporting young people and families across the Island, with a display of artworks from the Saturday Picture Play sessions, and by teenagers attending the Creative Hub to support their mental health.
Students from the Isle of Wight Education Federation showed their stunning display of Biosphere Birds sculpted from wire, created as part of a year-long Creative Biosphere collaboration with artist-in-residence Trudie Wilson.
Volunteers and participants from the weekly Creative Café group chatted to His Royal Highness as they stitched Jubilee bunting. The grand finale to the visit was a couple of rousing songs sung by all as part of the island-wide SingAbout sessions that are run weekly.
Wendy Varley, chair of trustees, said of the visit,
“It was a privilege to be able to show The Earl of Wessex how Independent Arts makes a real difference to people’s lives here on the island. It was a thoroughly enjoyable hour.”
Local weekly participant at the charity Margaret Loveridge, who showed His Royal Highness how to sew Jubilee bunting (pictured above), said afterwards,
“It was an honour to be invited to be part of the visit today, Independent Arts have given me so much, coming to their projects has helped me get my life back. The whole experience has been magical. It was my pleasure to represent the work of Independent Arts.”
The Earl inspects a working model of a Water Mill made by Young Carers on the Isle of Wight, shown with Lisa Gagliani, Independent Arts Chief Executive
The Earl joins the warm-up exercises for the Singing for Breathing demonstration
Ceramicist Kirstie Hayler shows the Earl some of the clay models made by participants of all ages at recent sessions
Community Engagement Manager Hannah Griffiths and Arts Manager Kerry Tindall show The Earl of Wessex around the Historic England Renew Project at Independent Arts Creative Hub
The Earl chatting with musicians JC and Kathy Grimshaw and Tony Nicholl who provide interactive workshops in island care homes, coordinated by Nicola Ward.
Programmes Manager Peta Rainford explains to His Royal Highness how the charity works with families and young people, supported by Arts Project Assistant Joanne Rigby
The Earl joins in with a singalong with SingAbout and Singing for Breathing participants
Photos by Julian Winslow