NSI at Sunderland Minster

We visited Sunderland Minster as part of our 2017/18 roadshow, and welcomed children and young people to commemorate the First World War through poetry, art, and song. 

We were joined at the Minster by children from Hasting Hill Academy, Albany Village Primary, Bamburgh School, Grangetown Primary School, and Hudson Road Primary School.  All of the children and young people participated in the event by performing songs or reading poetry onstage.  Everyone showed incredible confidence showcasing their work in front of special guests including Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear Mrs Susan Winfield OBE, and the Mayor of Sunderland Councillor Doris McKnight.

We were delighted to work with the Churches Conservation Trust, Sunderland Empire’s Creative Learning team, and Sunderland Music Hub (managed by Together for Children) on this event.

Reverend Andrew Dowsett, Minster Priest, opened the event by welcoming the young people to the Minster, and the Lord Lieutenant then addressed the children.  The Lord Lieutenant explained her role as the Queen’s representative, and thanked the children on behalf of Her Majesty for their hard work and important contribution to commemorating the First World War.

The stars of the show were the children themselves, who showcased their creative work to commemorate the First World War.  Students of Hudson Road Primary read out poetry that they had written themselves after learning about the First World War.  Five groups of students read their beautiful poems with great confidence.

In the lead-up to the event our Artist in Residence Marty Longstaff, a Sunderland-based singer/songwriter and qualified teacher, visited four of the five schools and led songwriting workshops.  The children used these sessions to gain an introduction to songwriting skills and contribute their own lyrics to a Song of the Centenary, which they then performed at the Minster.

Albany Village Primary sang their song, Thanks For Everything, which was inspired by the Royal British Legion’s Greatest Thank You Campaign.  This year songs, poems, and art entries inspired by the theme of Thank You are eligible for special prizes and could even feature in the Legion’s Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in 2018, in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen.

Grangetown Primary School were inspired by the First World War in the Skies and the formation of the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1918, and wrote poignant lyrics entitled Plane Without A Pilot which they sang beautifully.  Hasting Hill Academy took inspiration from the women who formed the Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF), and sang about their bravery and ingenuity in a song called This Girl Can!

Entries inspired by the War in the Skies or the formation of the RAF could be eligible for special bonus prizes, courtesy of the RAF!

Our Founder and Chief Executive Lady Lucy French spoke to the children about the Never Such Innocence competition and how to get involved.  Patricia Keppie of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission also joined us to give an introduction to the brilliant work of the Commission, and to show how many CWGC sites there are in and around Sunderland.  We were also privileged to learn about the upcoming tour of War Horse, and the amazing learning opportunities that will be available at the Sunderland Empire in relation to this; and the work of Sunderland Music Hub to get the whole of Sunderland singing!

Bamburgh School closed the show beautifully with their song, written to thank the First World War generation for everything we are lucky to have in our world today, and called I Am Thankful.

After hearing the four wonderful songs, Sunderland Music Hub were so impressed that they will be working with the children to record the songs using recording equipment!  We can’t wait to hear them.

Lady Lucy French, Great-Granddaughter of Field Marshal Sir John French and Founder of Never Such Innocence said, “We were absolutely delighted to host our roadshow at the Sunderland Minster which was a beautiful and significant venue.  We were inspired and enthused by the creativity and emotional intelligence shown by the children. I was profoundly moved by the work the children of Sunderland had produced and cannot wait to receive everyone’s competition entries!”

Amanda Gerry of the Churches Conservation Trust said, “I’m so proud that the children of Sunderland schools got to showcase their work and show NSI and invited guests just how hard working and special they are. We are over-whelmed by their talent and delighted that they have agreed to work with CCT to take part in the launch event for The Canny Space when it opens as a new cultural venue for the city in 2020.”

We would like to thank all the schools, guests and partners who joined us and helped make our 2017/18 Sunderland Roadshow event so special. We would particularly like to thank the whole team at the Minster for hosting us.  Every child present at the event was given a copy of the Never Such Innocence resource to take home. For your free copy, email us at enquiries@neversuchinnocence.com or download it here.

If you’d like to enter the competition please click here, and to see the upcoming locations of our roadshow events please click here!


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