By Judith Phillips
I was giving a talk to Bishop Auckland U3A History Group on Friday which was Armistice Day. At 11.00 we observed the two-minute silence – particularly moving as I had just reached the point where I was going on to talk about the WWI project. I think everyone in the room felt a little differently about the project and the stories I was able to tell.
I had started the ‘weekend’ a little early. On Thursday I was invited to a concert at Deerbolt. The work Rupert and Sarah had done had been so successful that they were invited back this autumn to do some more singing sessions with inmates. Four young men sang to us for about half an hour, mostly unaccompanied except for Rupert’s occasional guitar playing. They now have a wide repertoire of songs, not just from WWI, and they had chosen what to sing. I have to say it was a most moving occasion, especially when they did sing some of the WWI songs – in some cases, it was almost as though I was really hearing them for the first time because it was the words and the basic tune that came over so strongly.
On the Saturday we had a most appropriate presentation by Professor Jeremy Dibble on British composers and WWI, helped by listening to recordings of several pieces. I am sure all of us in the large audience went away thoughtful and yet uplifted in some way. A full report will appear in the next newsletter.
On Sunday I represented the project at the annual Remembrance Sunday service at Barnard Castle parish church and the service at the war memorial in the grounds of the Bowes Museum, where I laid a wreath. For the procession from the church to the museum I joined colleagues from the Museum’s Education Department and representative children from sixteen local primary schools who had recently taken part in a mini-project on WWI resulting from the main project. In the afternoon the Education staff and volunteers held a drop-in session for children and parents to share in WWI-related activities. I took the opportunity to be on hand to talk about the archives the children had worked from (copies, although they all saw the originals as well) and to demonstrate the website, particularly the Roll of Honour. This was a very popular event and it was great to talk to some of the children who had visited the Reading Room – the views had certainly impressed them!