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