Pupils get creative for First World War project

Linda Bankier and Ann Coburn with pupils from Tweedmouth Middle school who are working on WW1 creative writing pieces which will be staged at the Maltings
Linda Bankier and Ann Coburn with pupils from Tweedmouth Middle school who are working on WW1 creative writing pieces which will be staged at the Maltings

A century has passed since the First World War but a new generation of researchers have been busy going through the archives for a new project.

Thirty enthusiastic year 7 pupils from Tweedmouth Middle have been working with local author Ann Coburn and Berwick archivist Linda Bankier on some creative writing, with the results being presented on The Maltings tonight, Thursday, July 3 in the form of ‘A Missed Perspective’.

Ann was recently in the spotlight after her play ‘Get Up & Tie Your Fingers’ was performed in Cockburnspath and Berwick as part of the touring ‘Follow The Herring’ exhibition.

She has written her own short story for the free performance in the Henry Travers Studio later today but she has spent most of her time turning the words of the Tweedmouth youngsters into a piece to be performed by members of The Maltings Youth Theatre.

“The children really got into it and I’m very impressed with what they came up with.

“I did some preparatory work in the school when I explained the difference between primary and secondary sources then took them to see Linda who had done some digging and came up with information on three local families all of whom had someone sent to war.”

To help the families’ history resonate with the pupils Linda deliberately picked families with children of the same age as them and their stories really seemed to strike chord.

“When the subject of the First World War comes up a lot of the attention is on the trenches but a lot went on on the Home Front.

“Children were heavily involved in the war effort on the home front,” Ann explained.

“They helped pick potatoes; Scouts helped to transport war casualties ; school pupils would go and entertain soldiers in hospitals.”

Their trip to the archives office and Ann bringing a box of artefacts in from Newcastle’s Discovery Museum ignited something in the children and before long they were bringing things in from home.

“There was a real ripple effect,” Ann continued.

“The children had obviously gone home and told their families about the project and they’d gone up into their lofts to find different things they’d kept hold of.

“One boy brought in a brass marching compass which really inspired the story I’ll be reading at The Maltings.”

Like Ann, Linda was struck by just how much the children absorbed during their visit to the archives office.

“They seemed really interested in what I’d managed to find for them to look at.

“I saw one of the boys a few weeks after and he had remebnered everything I’d told him- I didn’t realise he’d taken so much in!”

With many of the children knowing luttle about the First World War before hand they were like sponges ready to soak up infomation.

“I knew nothing at all about the war before we started the project,” explained Gracie Easton.

“One of the most interesting things I found out was that if a man didn’t go to war he had to weather a white feather to show he was a coward.”

“It was quite hard to write something for the show but I really enjoy creative writing so once I got into it it became easier,” Nathan White added.