Conversations With The Community

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February 6, 2013 by Alex


Twelve members of the Lytham community shared their memories of growing up in Lytham with a class of Year 9 pupils from St. Bede’s High School in a workshop called, ‘Conversations With The Community’, which was held at the school in January.

The event was facilitated by Lancashire writer, JA Brunning, author of The Witherstone Trilogy and was organised by local Lytham writer and resident, Alex O’Toole, in collaboration with community organisation, ParkView4U, with the aim of using storytelling and story sharing to connect generations within the community. It forms part of a series of community based events being run in the lead up to The Festival of Stories, a brand new four day event planned to take place in Lytham later in 2013. Organisers of The Festival of Stories are currently working with Lancashire County Council to bid for funding from The Arts Council in order to bring the event to the public.

P1000481Each community member was interviewed by a small group of pupils, who had been tasked with preparing the interview questions in advance and filming the interviews on hand held digital cameras. For the first hour, pupils took it in turns to take on the roles of interviewer, scribe and cameraman, enquiring about home life, hobbies and spare time pursuits, school life and friends. The tables were turned during the second hour to enable the community members to ask questions of the pupils about their own childhoods and allow them to compare notes.

Speaking about her experience of the workshop, community member, Joyce Warwick of Lytham, said, ‘the children have been so polite and interesting, they deserve our congratulations.’

P1000476When asked what they had learnt from the exercise, the pupils remarked their surprise at how much Lytham had changed over the years. ‘They’ve got great memories,’ said one boy. ‘I can’t even remember what happened two days ago!’ The children also said how nice ‘it was nice to be listened to’.

Andrew Barnett, Assistant Head Teacher and Subject Leader for English at St. Bede’s said, ‘There is a wealth of oral history which is all to rarely shared across the generations. This afternoon our pupils were intrigued, enthralled and sometimes amused by the anecdotes local residents shared with them. We value the positive relationship we enjoy with the local community and throughout the Fylde. Our children benefit greatly from the wealth of experience that visitors to the School bring them. We’re delighted to be involved with this project as it has given the pupils a very real purpose for their writing.’


Follow up class work is planned with pupils being asked to write an essay on their findings from the workshop. A short film, using the footage compiled by the pupils at the event, is also in production and due to be uploaded to the Lytham Stories blog shortly.

Since the Conversations With The Community workshop, some of the attendees have been inspired to commit their memories to paper and to submit to The Lytham Lives Anthology, a brand new community fiction anthology open to the public also being driven by the organisers of The Festival of Stories. For those interested in entering a piece of creative writing, the deadline for submissions for The Lytham Lives Anthology: A Community In Writing is 5pm on 28th February. For more details about how to submit your poems, short stories or pieces of life writing go to:

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Lytham Lives Anthology

Submission DeadlineMay 31, 2013
The competition is now closed.
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