OLDER residents in Malpas have taken part in a project set up by students from University of Chester aimed at discovering more about the lives of the elderly.

The exhibition, held last week in Chester, was called Keys to My Memory and was produced by four second-year photography students – Lorna Elwin, Abi Miller, Beth Grimes-Thomas and Tim Newman – and featured images of older people alongside everyday objects with particular significance to their lives.

The exhibition was put on in association with Brightlife, a charity which works with people over the age of 50 to combat loneliness – and Lorna was delighted how it went.

“We’d just completed a piece of work about our heroes and, by coincidence, had all chosen our grandparents,” she said.

“This made us curious to find out more about the lives of older people we didn’t already know, by inviting them to talk to us about, and then be photographed with, a special item that held a memorable story for them.”

One of the residents from Malpas, called Jean, enjoyed her time with the project. She said: “I displayed a picture of my grandfather who was described as very handsome. 

“When someone called, he used to get the picture out and ask who the film star was.”

Chris McMahon, social prescribing manager at Brightlife and organiser of the exhibition, said: “Reminiscence activities are so important as people get older – they help people stay connected to their past while reinforcing their sense of self, which is vital for their wellbeing.

“The students spent hours chatting to and listening to older people attending Brightlife events, creating a level of trust whereby the older people felt comfortable to open up and share precious memories.

“We have been so impressed by the compassion, maturity and respect the students have demonstrated, not to mention their wonderful photography skills.”

Dr Tracy Piper-Wright, senior lecturer in photography at the University of Chester, said: “Working with Brightlife has been a great way for the students to engage with the wider community and to use their creative skills in the real world.”

The photographs will be displayed on the Brightlife website, www.brightlifecheshire.org.uk