Writer Sarah Butler introduces a new strand of work with The Elders Company.

As well as writing novels, I do a lot of work with different communities in different locations (you can find out more at www.urbanwords.org.uk and www.sarahbutler.org.uk) . At the moment I am studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at the Open University, investigating home, ageing and identity. My interest in ageing and culture brought me to work with The Elders Company at the Royal Exchange. It has been a delight and a privilege to work with this passionate, dynamic group of people; I’ve found that every time I come away from a session I feel invigorated and energised.

Last year, I worked with the company to explore what being in The Elders means to them, as a group and as individuals. We created a beautiful piece of print, detailing our findings as well as a fabulous group poem:

The Elders Is...

An explosion of purple,
blue velvet,
a brave sunrise red.

It's an ice-cream sundae, knicker bocker glory,
a scotch bonnet chilli, matured in brine.

It's an oak tree, firmly planted,
a beautiful rose with hidden thorns.

It's an old-fashioned charabanc,
a red Mazda RX7,
a campervan with room for friends.

It's a hat for all seasons,
a roomy sweater,
re-waxed Barbour,
blanket.

It's a time machine.
It's a case of unread books.
It's a roller coaster, and I'm not getting off!

Written by members of The Elders Company: Alan, Brenda, Christine, David, Doreen, Glyn, Gordon, Graham, Judith, Marianne, Maureen, Norman, Tony

This year, I have put together a programme of activity called Elders Investigate. The programme includes creative writing workshops, debates and conversations, all geared towards opening up a conversation about arts, culture and ageing. Some of the events are open to the public. Find out what’s coming up HERE

Throughout the year, I will be blogging my own creative responses to the programme, and inviting members of the Elders Company to share their creative work and reflections. I am looking forward to having my eyes opened and my ideas challenged.