SU­SANNA’S STRICTLY SUR­PRISED

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - CATHY OWEN Re­porter cathy.owen@waleson­line.co.uk

S USANNA THOMAS brings so much “joy and hap­pi­ness” to the lives of el­derly peo­ple in Cardiff they de­cided to come up with a spe­cial way of say­ing thank you.

The se­nior li­brar­ian at Rhy­dypen­nau Li­brary in Cardiff set up a Goldies Cymru group three years ago to help brighten the lives of el­derly and iso­lated peo­ple in the area.

With the help of Na­tional Lot­tery fund­ing, the group uses mu­sic to bring peo­ple to­gether.

And last night her work re­ceived na­tional recog­ni­tion, with around five mil­lion peo­ple tun­ing in to watch The Big Sur­prise on ITV, which cel­e­brates and show­cases he­roes across the coun­try.

Be­cause Su­sanna is a big Strictly Come Danc­ing fan, her sur­prise had a glit­ter­ing feel.

The Na­tional Lot­tery worked with the Goldies Cymru group to film the trans­for­ma­tion of Rhy­dypen­nau Li­brary into a glit­ter­ing ball­room and had Strictly Come Danc­ing’s for­mer pro­fes­sional dancer Robin Wind­sor on hand to spin Su­sanna around the dance­floor, in front of her cheer­ing Goldies.

Su­sanna said: “It was all quite over­whelm­ing, but by far the best bit of the sur­prise was see­ing the Goldies all dressed up. Peo­ple you see ev­ery week go­ing to such an ef­fort made me quite emo­tional.

“This was a won­der­ful sur­prise and I can’t be­lieve that so many peo­ple man­aged to keep such an ex­cit­ing se­cret un­der wraps.”

Robin said: “Danc­ing for me means joy and hap­pi­ness, so for Su­sanna to bring this into so many lives is a won­der­ful gift. It was fab­u­lous to be able to sur­prise Su­sanna and thank her for all that she does for the el­derly and vul­ner­a­ble in her Cardiff com­mu­nity.”

Across Wales and the South West of Eng­land, Golden Oldies groups usu­ally have to hire out the space they use for ses­sions, as well as pay­ing peo­ple to lead them.

How­ever, Su­sanna was sure that a Goldies Cymru group would be a hit in Rhy­dypen­nau, and con­vinced her bosses that host­ing a Goldies group in the li­brary would ben­e­fit the whole com­mu­nity.

Su­sanna said: “When I first con­tacted Golden Oldies, I never ex­pected that a group would give me so much hap­pi­ness, but it has been fan­tas­tic. Orig­i­nally, we only had a few peo­ple join­ing our ses­sions, but thanks to word of mouth, we’re now up to 40 reg­u­lar at­ten­dees and are still grow­ing. There are so many new friend­ships made, it’s been won­der­ful to be a part of it.”

Founder of Golden Oldies, Grenville Jones, said: “Peo­ple of­ten ar­rive at Goldies feel­ing a bit down, but af­ter an hour with Su­sanna, they leave feel­ing re­vi­talised.

“As soon as the Na­tional Lot­tery got in touch about the op­por­tu­nity, we knew that there was one per­son who de­served such a spe­cial sur­prise. This group wouldn’t ex­ist with­out her and it was great to be able to give her some­thing back.”

The Big Sur­prise aired last night dur­ing the ad break in The X Fac­tor. It is among 17 short films be­ing shown through­out the year.

For more in­for­ma­tion on Goldies Cymru, visit: www.goldiescymru.org. uk

Strictly Come Danc­ing’s Hal­loween spe­cial – page 25

NA­TIONAL LOT­TERY

Goldies Cymru’s much-loved or­gan­iser, Su­sanna Thomas, re­ceiv­ing a sur­prise visit from Robin Wind­sor of Strictly Come Danc­ing fame

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