Drumhead Service

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Year 11 pupil Eleanor talked about the Journeys Intertwined project at the Drumhead Service in Sawston. Below is the text of what she said and her immediate thoughts after the service.

‘I’m very pleased to have been given the opportunity to speak to everyone this afternoon. My name is Eleanor and I am a Year 11 pupil at Sawston Village College. I’m here today to tell you about a heritage project which will start at Sawston Village College next week.

The project is called ‘Journeys Intertwined’ and will aim to explore the experiences of three soldiers in the First World War. One of the soldiers whose experience we plan to research is German. He kept a diary through the war, and we hope to use this to gain a deeper understanding of the conflict and his personal experience of it. The other two soldiers whose experiences of war we’ll investigate are British. We’ve called our project ‘Journeys Intertwined’ as we expect that we’ll find that the experiences of these men in war were not that different, even though they were fighting on opposite sides.

We plan to make a film to document the progress of our project and hope also to respond to what we learn by developing spoken word and performance pieces.

We have received funding for this project through the Heritage Lottery’s Young Roots programme. The Young Roots programme is for projects that engage young people aged 11 -25 with heritage in the UK, and our project will be open to any interested young people in our school – across all year groups.

The Heritage Lottery Fund also requires you to work with partners, and I’m looking forward to working with undergraduate students from the History Department at Anglia Ruskin University. The students there will come out to Sawston Village College and support and help us with our research.

We’ve also been involved with Sawston Village History Society and the Royal British Legion in setting up this project, and we hope they’ll continue to be involved with the project as our work on it progresses.

The project will run one day a week after school. We plan to set up a website where we will keep people up to date with the progress of our project through posting up film clips, photographs and updates. We expect to finish our project in July next year, when we will share our project findings through the film which will document our project and through the performance pieces we will develop from our research. In fact, you may have already noted that our filmmaker has accompanied me here today to begin that documentation process.

If anyone is interested in finding out more about this project or in getting involved, please contact the school.

Thank you.’

I went to the Drumhead service in Sawston on Saturday 20 September, proudly wearing the Royal British Legion with merit poppy badge that belonged to my grandfather, who had to fight in the war that followed the peace of the first.

Seeing the cadets marching as one really made me think about what it must have been like to see the young men from the village, most of whom had never been away from home before, marching off to face the Germans. It made me think about what it might have felt like to see boys I knew lying about their age in order to go and fight. Would I ever see them again?

It was a real honour to speak at such a wonderful service, and to meet and speak with people about why it’s important to them to remember, and to learn what their families did.

There was a wonderful, immediate response from the community, offering letters and postcards; and they were also invited to the first session of the project on Wednesday.

I’m now very excited to get started.

Eleanor Year 11