Beverley Folk Festival’s World War I War Horse Project is galloping ahead of this year’s event at Beverley Racecourse from June 20 to 22.
Author of War Horse, Michael Morpurgo, will be attending the festival and appearing on stage to read from his book in a show entitled “War Horse: Only Remembered” on June 21.
Longcroft and Hymers students, The Millers Centre for vulnerable people in Beverley and Hull Prison have all been looking back at World War I and learning about its impact on the area in the project, which has been sponsored by the William Jackson Food Group and culminates in a Main Stage performance at the festival on Sunday, June 22.
The performance, which starts at midday, will feature a dramatisation by Other Lives Theatre Company of letters written by students from Longcroft School in Beverley.
Christopher Oughtred, a member of the family which owns Hull-based William Jackson Food Group, shared letters his grandfather Jack Oughtred sent home during World War I with more than 60 Year 8 students at Longcroft School on Tuesday this week.
Chairman of the William Jackson Food Group, which owns Aunt Bessie’s and Jackson’s Bakery in Hull, Nicholas Oughtred said: “To support a project like this which involves so many local people in the year that marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I is a privilege. We’re delighted we could help financially but also very happy to take part with pupils at Longcroft School.”
Vicki Morris, Longcroft School’s Deputy Curriculum Leader of English, said: “This was a wonderful opportunity for our students to hear a personal account of what it was like living in the trenches during World War One. It was a privilege to welcome Mr Oughtred into Longcroft to talk to us about his grandfather, Jack, and to allow us to see and touch items that were precious to him, such as the medals he was awarded and the silver cigarette case his fiancée Phyliss sent him one Christmas in the trenches. This personal story brought home the realities of daily life for soldiers during the conflict and will help inspire our students as they write letters in the person of young men at the front and the replies they might have received from family and friends back home.”
Longcroft School student Harry Bolt said: “Listening to Mr Oughtred and the story of his grandfather was an amazing experience. It made the war come to life and helped me to understand what it must have been like to live through it.”
Pupil Elizabeth Jennison said: “I learned a lot I didn’t know and enjoyed listening to the Jack’s story. Holding objects that had actually been there in the trenches made it feel real.”
Pupils from Hymers School in Hull are also preparing a piece for the festival performance based on the role of women, prior to, during and post the war.
Hull Prisoners have been looking into the history of men from Hull who went to fight in the Great War and never returned. They are writing songs based around some of these men and their songs will be performed by musicians at the festival.
Beverley Folk Festival’s Artistic Director Chris Wade, said: “This is a very exciting project and the enthusiasm from everyone involved has been tremendous – I can’t wait to see the results of everyone’s hard work. We are really grateful to our partners the William Jackson Food Group in Hull for showing such great support for the project, both financially and in their great enthusiasm for it.”
The festival will have its very own War Horse, produced by The Millers Centre. The full-sized puppet horse will be made from recycled material and will take part in the main performance on the Sunday.
It will be seen for the first time at a special ceremony at Beverley Racecourse on May 28 at 6pm.