We are Weardale: a project of celebration
Rachel was invited by Durham County Council to be part of We are Weardale, a year long inter-generational arts project with the aim of engaging children, young people and the wider community. The purpose was to raise aspirations in addition to developing creativity, literature and illustrative skills inspired by the incredibly beautiful land of Weardale, its community and rich heritage.
My role was to work with local primary schools across Weardale (Stanhope Barrington, Wolsingham, Wearhead and St John’s Chapel) plus with the North Pens adult creative writing group based at Stanhope to explore and celebrate the Weardale of yesterday and today through creative writing and oral history. To do this, I developed sessions with both children and grown-ups using archive artefacts and photos from The Weardale Museum to inspire reflection and writing. Drawing on my audio skills and experience in oral history, I have also assisted the children to record each other’s voices in class, to explore what they think about living in Weardale today and also to assist the children interview and record members of the community about living in Weardale in the past.
At St John’s Chapel Primary School, Rachel also worked with the pupils to combine the We are Weardale project with a celebration of the 140th anniversary of their school. She helped the children audio record each other about living in Weardale today plus record their teachers and people from the area with past connections to the school. Rachel also visited a local Luncheon Club with the children to record older members of the community.
At Wearhead Primary School, the project facilitated a visit by North Pens Writers when both pupils and adults were able to share and record their creative work inspired by being part of We are Weardale and also talk about their writing process.
The project culminated in an display of creative work and oral history at local agricultural shows and also a display and launch of the We are Weardale book at The Durham Dales Centre.