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Princethorpe College Sixth Formers Support Stratford Literary Festival’s The Me Project

14 Dec

Twelve Princethorpe College Sixth Formers have just completed an inspirational, cross-generational project working with the residents of Tithe Lodge in Southam. In The Me Project led and co-ordinated by Stratford Literary Festival, sponsored by Orbit Homes, and in partnership with Warwickshire Library Service, the Sixth Form students have worked with nine of the care home’s residents to write up their memoirs.

Over six visits the students paired up with a resident, interviewed and recorded their stories and then, on their behalf, wrote their memoirs up. The Festival organisers subsequently collated the finished accounts with personal photographs and then published them in a book.

On Wednesday 12 December the students returned to Southam to see the residents one final time. At the meeting, Director of Stratford Literary Festival, Annie Ashworth, presented copies of the finished memoir books to both the residents and students.

Annie said, “The Me Project was an opportunity for the residents to share their memories from the past. As we get older our memories help define us and it important to share our stories. The residents at Tithe Lodge have a huge amount to give, their lives have included many incredible experiences and they have so many stories to tell. Princethorpe’s Sixth Form students have shown such interest and commitment to the project and it has really encouraged the residents to open up and share their memories. The finished memoirs are a marvellous read and for posterity we have also presented copies to the Warwickshire archives.”

David Constable, whose fascinating memoirs tell of his life as one of 22 children commented, “Over the years I have done a lot of charity work. It’s been really nice to meet Eleanor and Jade and to share my life with them.”

Betty McKay, added, “Hannah has been such a patient girl, of course I did have to censor some of my memories, but there were still plenty of interesting stories to tell about my family and friends.”

Former soldier, Derek Haden explained, “This is the first time I have spoken of some of the events in my life.” His memoir author, Sixth Former Hannah added, ”It has been amazing to hear Derek’s tales.”

Olga Baskerville also shared her wartime memories, she said, “I am not good on dates now, but when I look back the memories are really clear. Maddie has been wonderful.” Maddie added, “I have really enjoyed talking to Olga, hearing about her life has brought the Second World War vividly to life.”

Princethorpe College’s Assistant Head of Sixth Form, Rod Isaacs explained, “It has been a real privilege to be a part of The Me Project. It has benefited our pupils tremendously, I could see that our Sixth Formers were genuinely attentive and interested in the many rich memories and experiences that someone, often 70 years their senior, was sharing with them. When you read through these memoirs in their final printed form, it is really very moving and inspiring.”

This is the second memoir project the Festival has worked on in conjunction with Orbit Homes, they undertook a similar exercise with Briar Croft in Stratford-Upon-Avon in March this year.

Taking part in The Me Project this time were Tithe Lodge residents: Olga Baskerville, David Constable, Deirdre Dunbar, Myckee Finch, Derek Haden, Betty McKay, Barry Newbold, Terry Plummer and Gordon Sharples

Writing up the memoirs were Princethorpe College Sixth Formers: Frances Bromwich, Elizabeth Carr, Meerah Chauhan, Eloise Dowell, Maddy Downey, Eleanor Makepeace, Hannah Owens, Hannah Porter, Harriet Simms, Izzy Simpson, Maya Spence and Jade Swan.