Ex Navy gunner Ken has a ball at Llandudno wartime exhibition

Wartime memories came flooding back to 90 year old ex-Royal Navy gunner Ken Ball at a special event where nostalgia wasn’t just a thing of the past.

Ken was one of 150 housing association tenants who enjoyed a good old fashioned sing-song at a 1940s-style We’ll Meet Again session.

As well as the sing-along, there was an exhibition of wartime memorabilia from Llandudno’s Home Front Experience and War Museum.

The event at the Kinmel Manor Hotel, in Abergele, was organised by registered social housing landlord Cartrefi Conwy.

Ken, a tenant of the MaesCwstennin sheltered housing complex in Llandudno Junction, was proudly wearing his five war medals he earned while serving in the Second World War.

He said: “It’s been wonderful and I have enjoyed getting out of my home and having a good old chat with lots of friends. And the songs and things we have been shown have really brought back some memories.

“I was a Royal Navy gunner in the war and was on HMS Cotswold escorting convoys when it was rammed in the North Sea. We had to abandon ship and I ended up in hospital in Grimsby.

“I was then sent to Plymouth and then Barrow-in-Furness before I joined a ship called HMS Uriana. I then went to the Pacific and took part in the Japanese campaign before coming back and been there for the D-Day landings.”

He added: “It’s been lovely to hear the old songs again and think back to the war days. They were hard times but we pulled together.

“After the war I went back to my old job at Llandudno Theatre. I used to do the lighting and project the films. Then I went to Hotpoint where I worked for more than 30 years.

“The atmosphere today has been wonderful and everyone is smiling. I do enjoy living at Maes Cwstennin and our wardens are lovely.”

According to Cartrefi Conwy Community Involvement Co-ordinator Vicky Kelly, the free to attend event was organised in response to feedback from older residents.

She said: “We asked for feedback from those tenants who have attend our regular community day events and something aimed specifically at our older residents consistently came out on top.

“And, it means while our tenants have a bit of fun and get to socialise, it also gives us an opportunity to pass on some important informationand news to a high number of tenants at the same time.”

She added: “There is no doubt our elderly tenants have really enjoyed the day. We have had talks and an exhibition of wartime memorabilia from Llandudno’s Home Front Experience and War Museum and live music from 1940’s nostalgia group, Reflections.”

The event also saw two old friends who had lost contact enjoy a happy reunion.

The grandmother of Ethel May Williams, 92, of MaesCwstennin, Llandudno Junction, died after giving birth and Ethel’s mum was brought up in Betws-y-Coed by the grandmother of Menna Thomas, now 85.

Ethel says she remembers pushing Menna about in her pram just after she was born.

She said: “It’s amazing. We haven’t seen each other for more than four years, and that was at a funeral, so I was surprised when I saw Menna here. Although we aren’t actually blood relatives I think of Menna as my sister really.

“It’s been such a lovely day and we have been treated like queens. The food has been wonderful and everyone has been so friendly. I have really enjoyed myself.”

Menna Thomas, who lives in the Argoed sheltered housing scheme in Kinmel Bay, was  thrilled to meet up with Ethel at the We’ll Meet Again event.

She said: “It’s been a smashing day and fabulous to get together for a chat. The whole event has been so well organised and just lovely.

“To be fair Cartrefi Conwy have been very caring and putting on events like this today are very welcome indeed.”

Coleg Llandrillo Health and Social Care students helped out during the day, serving teas and coffees as well as helping tenants with mobility issues.

Tutor Davina Jones said: “It been a fabulous event and was a wonderful opportunity for our students to gain some valuable experience and confidence by engaging with, and talking to, elderly tenants.”

Cartrefi Conwy Chief Executive, Andrew Bowden, was delighted the event was such a big success.

He said: “It’s great to see so many tenants enjoying the activities and socialising together.

“We take our community involvement responsibilities very seriously and our team have pulled out all the stops in organising an event which has been really appreciated by our more senior tenants.

“And of course getting more than 150 tenants together means we can pass important up-to-date information to them as well as advicethat gives them the opportunity to improve their finances and well being.”

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