In April this year I was fortunate to be one of the seven creative artists selected by Tŷ Pawb to deliver a Creative Assignment, as part of their lockdown-inspired Arts at Home programme.

Together with the other six creative assignments we make up a wonderfully eclectic mix: design and make a book; make a video; do some performance art; make a collage; make a den; and manufacture and carve soap.

My project is to make a story (which you could combine with making a book, collage or video), and like the others it is all about encouraging and inspiring people to be creative in their own right – in my case, getting people to write in their own words (or draw) about what they love most about being outdoors and active.

The heart of my assignment – Creative Folktales – is to provide guidance, some potential sources of  inspiration, and a story framework so that children, families, indeed people of any age can create a new folk tale, set in or around Wrexham.

The launch date for my assignment was originally going to be sometime in May or June, but on 21st June fate stepped in.

The date will always stick in my mind – this year it was both Father’s Day and Midsummer’s Day. At 6.30am I was outside getting ready to take our dogs out for their morning walk when I suffered a major stroke, which could have easily become a catastrophic stroke if the dogs hadn’t raised the alarm, waking my wife up. She immediately dialled 999.

By 9.30am I was in the operating theatre at the Royal Stoke Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent having emergency surgery to remove a large blood clot which had cut off the blood supply to the whole of the left-hand side of my brain. The operation was 100% successful: by the following day I was back on my feet and practising walking up and down stairs, and later that same day I was discharged home. An incredibly lucky escape, thanks to the dogs, my wife and of course our wonderful NHS.

So here I am back in action, pretty much fully recovered apart from being a bit fragile emotionally – it’s not every day you come so close to death –  and happily back at work in my day job as Innovation Manager at Wrexham Glyndwr University.

Colleagues at the University have been very supportive, as have Tŷ Pawb, who kindly postponed my creative assignment by a few months, but happily have stuck with me and Creative Folktales. It is hard to put into words just how much it means to me to be able to mark my recovery by delivering the assignment as planned. It’s not solely my project either – back in April when I was putting together my proposal for the assignment, I commissioned support from two local creatives: artist and illustrator Emma Ford; and renowned storyteller Fiona Collins.

Emma I knew from the University, where she was studying art at Regent Street, and she has produced some wonderful illustrations for your as yet unwritten folk tales: a Unicorn; an excitable gnome; a Warrior Princess; two duelling Hamsters (the hamsterteers?), and more. You can see more of Emma’s art and illustration at Fittingly, Emma signs her work with her initials, E.L.F.

Fiona has recorded a video of herself recounting a Wrexham-based legend set in the days of King Arthur’s court. Listening to Fiona speak is like listening to music, with the lovely lilt of her poetic delivery.

So, my assignment is now up and running.  If you’ve got a story to tell which works well in a folk tale or fairy story format, we’d love to hear it and for it to be part of this latest Creative Assignment. I’ve certainly got my own fairy tale to write, which definitely ends “and he lived happily ever after”.

Our thanks to Peter for sharing his story with us. You can take part in Peter’s Creative Assignment, Creative Folktales, here.

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