Lights, camera, action!

Our oral history producer Julia Letts reflects on the school project at Hardwick Meadows...
Front cover of 'Where the Meadows Flower' programme

What a pleasure it was to watch the youngsters of Pendock Primary School performing a play all about the Hardwick Green Meadows! This was the culmination of a year-long project with Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, which has involved dozens of people aged between 5 and 95 and shone a spotlight on our new floodplain reserve.

Last September we started working with the classes at Pendock, firstly taking them to Hardwick Green Meadows for a wonderful day of activities and then following this up with workshops in school about the importance of the meadows to local people. We talked about collecting people’s memories to give us a record of the past and showed the children how to make oral history recordings, inviting local people into school to share their stories with us.

Alongside all this activity, I started to collect life stories from the local community and by Christmas we had a wonderful, varied collection of recordings covering life in the area from the 1930s to the present day. These interviews were passed on to playwright John Townsend, who used to teach locally and has experience of turning oral history into drama. He also visited Pendock school, met the children and discussed lots of ideas with them for a ‘time-travelling’ play about the meadows.

The result was ‘Where the Meadows Flower’, a 45-minute play in which present-day students go back in time to the 1950s. The scenes were set in the meadows as well as the old school room and included the Queen’s Coronation, when many villagers crammed into the school to watch the headteacher’s black and white TV. The importance of the meadows came across loud and clear, not only as somewhere that the children played, explored and enhanced their pocket money with blackberry picking but also as a crucial part of the farming cycle and a vital income generator.

It’s been brilliant to be part of a unique project where Worcestershire Wildlife Trust’s focus has been to engage children and connect them to the place where they live, its past and its importance, and why they need to safeguard its future.

The children were superb, word-perfect and loud and clear. They performed and sang to an appreciative audience of friends, parents, grandparents and members of the community. Special guests included several of our interviewees, whose stories had been used to create the play and whose voices rang out in the school hall during the performance. It really was a very special afternoon and one that I have no doubt the children will remember for the rest of their lives.

May I say an enormous thank you to the students and teachers at Pendock!

Where the Meadows Flower programme - Acts and cast list