Basildon school pupils and care home residents enjoy Platinum Jubilee VR session

Students from the James Hornsby School, and residents from the Woodbury Court care home in Basildon, were treated to a special Virtual Reality (VR) event on Thursday May 26 to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Essex County Council’s (ECC) Adult Social Care service and the Essex Year of Reading campaign have partnered with VR technology specialists, ‘The Wayback’, to enable young and older people to re-live the Queen’s coronation celebrations.

The VR technology recreates moments from the coronation to trigger memories for those living with dementia and will enable care home residents to talk to pupils about their experiences.

Leading the Essex Year of Reading campaign is Councillor Tony Ball, ECC’s Cabinet Member for Education Excellence, Lifelong Learning and Employability; he said that: “In order to inspire a lifelong love of books, a key element is oral storytelling, which helps people share first-hand accounts of events and keeps memories alive. VR can help older generations remember and share their memories of past events; this event will offer a very inspiring lesson for every pupil.”

Attending the event and representing the Queen, was the Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Jennifer Tolhurst, who took part in the VR and also had the chance to listen to care home residents reminiscing about past times.

A key event within the Essex Year of Reading campaign, it is also part of ongoing efforts by ECC’s dementia support team to create opportunities for young and older people living with dementia to enjoy the wellbeing benefits of connecting across generations.

Cllr John Spence, ECC’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said: “This is an exciting way for different generations to mark the Queen’s incredible 70-year reign. It is also a hugely beneficial opportunity for both young and older to interact and learn from each other.

“Bringing people of different generations together can help them to better understand and have compassion for others, as well as reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation across all ages. Thank you to all those involved for creating this unique opportunity.”

Dan Cole, co-founder and creative director of The Wayback, said: “It’s great the Essex Year of Reading is joining schoolchildren and people living with dementia together to commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Small details often trigger strong memories. Many older people remember the Queen’s coronation as the first time they watched something on TV! Bringing young and old together is always very emotional, and both have so much to offer each other. We’re delighted to be part of this project.”

Find out more about the events, activities and competitions available through the Essex Year of Reading by downloading the free app from Google Play or the App Store. Find out more about the campaign by visiting: https://www.essex.gov.uk/news/essex-year-of-reading

Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]