Letter Writing event with Whitchurch Residents Credit:Katharine Worrell

Elderly residents of Whitchurch pass on their wisdom to school pupils 

If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?

ELDERLY residents of Whitchurch have been writing letters full of memories, advice and life lessons to children in Whitchurch High School.

Confidence is everything”

Anonymous participant

The pupils will reply with letters about what they hope to have achieved by the time they are old.

“We want to link with the secondary school so that everyone can share their stories and learn from one another,” said creative writer Uschi Turoczy who built the workshop around the idea of “ageing positively”.

Uschi Turoczy at her Whitchurch letter writing class. Credit: Katharine Worrell

“Whatever you want to write today is right,” she told participants. “This is your experience, your voice.”

Ms Turoczy encouraged the letter writers to reach back in time and think of advice to give their younger selves.

Suggestions ranged from the profound to the nostalgic and included: 

  • “Confidence is everything.” 
  • “Take more risks, accept every experience you can.” 
  • “I learnt in a big way about disability. My first born was autistic and all at once I saw a brand new path that younger me never would have thought of.” 
  • “No one else on this planet is better than anyone else. We all breathe the same, drink the same and defecate the same. Oh and I would like to tell someone from my primary school that people over 40 are actually useful and innovative!” 
  • “Be safe and be careful my darling, the 1960s and The Pill are just around the corner!”
Letter writing class at Whitchurch Hwb. Credit:Katharine Worrell

The idea came from Awen Library group which wanted to do something in support of Ageism Action  Day on March 20. On March 22 their letters, and those of the school children in response, will be displayed at Whitchurch Hub. 

Oh and I would like to tell the person from my primary school that people over 40 are actually interesting and innovative!”

Anonymous participant

The workshop involved two creative writing exercises to help people feel more comfortable with writing, as many had not done anything like this before. 

Be safe and be careful my darling, the 1960s and The Pill are just around the corner!”

Anonymous participant

It became a very emotional experience for some people, who began to remember things about their childhood they had not thought about in a long time.

One participant, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “Do you know I never realised until now, but all those friends I made in my final year of school I still keep in touch. I remember one girl and I wanted to go away to work in France but my parents would not let me. We kept in touch until she died a few years ago.” 

“Another friend only moved to Newcastle, and every year I promised myself I would go visit her, until I got the phone call from her husband to tell me she had passed away,” she continued.