Honorary Guide Netta finally earns artists badge at age 85

Netta earns her badges 70 years late
Netta earns her badges 70 years late
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More than 70 years ago, a young Girl Guide was left disappointed when she failed to earn her artists badge but with a little help from her friends she has finally fulfilled her childhood dream.

Netta Watson was thrilled to bits with the accolade, which she earned at the Craft Cafe in Edinburgh. She said: “I can’t actually remember why I failed it in the first place – I couldn’t see that my work was much worse than anybody else’s!” The 85-year-old, a resident of St Raphael’s care home, has been attending Impact Arts’ Craft Cae workshops for just over a year and they have given her a new lease of life.

The workshops run in partnership with Viewpoint care homes, giving residents a place to work with professional artists on arts and crafts projects. As well as workshops running on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays each week, the residents’ artwork is celebrated at high-profile exhibition events.

The most recent of these took place the Image Collective gallery on the top floor of Leith’s Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre. Work sold in this exhibition raised over £1200 to be reinvested into Impact Arts charity art programmes, and Netta made a significant contribution to this total – she sold nine watercolour, pastel and acrylic works, including portraits and Scottish landscapes.

Surprised at selling so much, Netta said that the achivement was “not bad”, considering she failed her Girl Guides badge – a throwaway comment that led Impact Arts tutor Kate Bell to contact the Guides to right an injustice that had taken place in the 1940s.

Last week, the Girl Guides’ County Arts Advisor Gillian Fraser surprised Netta by turning up at the St Raphael’s workshop to present her with her arts badge, in front of fellow Craft Café members. “It was a great surprise, so unexpected and exciting,” said Netta. “It had me in tears.” Netta loves the cafe for many reasons but mostly for the “good company, the good coffee and the good conversations. I so enjoy trying all the different artforms and media – and nobody fails you!”

Kate Bell, lead tutor, is thrilled that Netta has received due recognition for her artistic efforts. She said: “Netta is incredibly dedicated and I am delighted to see her awarded for creating so much thoughtful and colourful artwork.

“We were all very moved when the penny dropped and Netta realised what was going on! She is a great encouragement to her peers who share in her infectious enthusiasm for the arts.”

Craft Cafe workshops run each week in two Viewpoint care homes in Edinburgh: St Raphael’s and Lennox House.

The aim of the workshops is to celebrate older people’s creative achievements, offer access quality arts tuition, and help break down isolation and loneliness in residents.