Another busy and fun-filled event with Wennington Old Scholars as they returned for their annual archive gathering at PETT last week.
It's becoming a bit of a tradition for Wenningtonians to invite members of other communities to these events, and this year they were joined by Willi Eiduks and Len Clarke who were children at the Pestalozzi Children's Village in Sedlescombe, who were invited to share something of their experience with the group throughout their three day visit. PhD student Emily Charkin joined us on Monday and Tuesday to learn from the Wenningtonians themselves about the full engagement of children in building and maintenance and outdoor work in a school. In addition to all that, on Wednesday they welcomed 27 children from the local Willersey Primary School, who, along with neighbouring children from Toddington, joined them in a Kaki Tree planting. What's a Kaki Tree? Katy from Wennington has written a fabulous article about it for the Wennington website: Click here to find out more!
This tree planting, initiated by Jonathan Adamson from Wennington, was a beautiful and uplifting occasion and we're very proud to have this symbol of peace and vitality now residing within the Barns Centre grounds. In what made for a very lively and celebratory event, Ernie Thomas from Wennington entertained the guests with his barrel organ and each child took a turn at operating it after they had performed a very moving song and a dance of the seasons in front of the illustrated poems they had written about the tree. Special prayers for peace were also recited by the children around the newly erected Peace Pole which came to us via the Henderson Hospital and, as of Tuesday, now stands in the former swimming pool in front of Barns House, our accommodation building. The idea for installing the Peace Pole in the grounds came from Wenningon Old Scholars during their 2012 event, and Sam Doncaster and Richard Pemble have worked to make a cap for the pole out of Devon oak and an incredibly beautiful (although now hidden) armature, through which the pole is secured in the ground and through which it can turn.
In amongst all of this, the Wennington and Sedlescombe group found time to record three life story, two group, one duet, and one brief "How did you come to be involved in the Revive Time Kaki Tree project" interviews. After a half day oral history training session with Gemma (who, along with Chris, made a return for the week) Katy recorded a conversation with Willi and Len about Pestalozzi, and Jonathan recorded a longer life story interview with Willi. Roger Dingley produced a great summary of the group interviews from the day before, and a number of oral history consent forms were signed and returned! Sam set himself the challenge of scanning the entire volume of 'Energy Unbound' written by Kenneth Barnes, the co-founder of Wennington, about the school, with the intention of releasing it online as a publish-on-demand book. Sam managed all of the scanning by Thursday, with time left over for OCRing: formatting and selecting photographs are the only big tasks left, so watch this space!
Paddy Butcher has now taken over the managing of the transcription of the school Senate Minute Book which Tom James had been co-ordinating (photo images of its 600-some pages are outsourced for typing to a team of Wennington volunteers), and great headway was made with proofreading and sorting Kenneth's documents thanks to the efforts of Pat Mitchell, Stuart Humphrey and Grace Roberts. More labelling of images on the Wennington website proved a productive group activity with cries of 'Who was that?' resounding through the archive at regular intervals!
The building of the new Wennington website also made good progress, with Pat cross-referencing materials from the old "Therapeutic Living With Other People's Children" website (you don't know about our Heritage Lottery Fund-supported, award-winning project? Go here: www.otherpeopleschildren.org.uk), the successful uploading of oral histories and digital stories, and, of course, the new news blog written by Katy and published by Pat.
Richard Pemble painstakingly scanned the Willersey children's paintings and poems, and Chris lovingly typed the poems into the computer - watch this space for another e-book, celebrating their creativity and the remarkable planting-of-the-kaki-tree day. Films were watched, including 8mm footage of Ingmanthorpe Hall (site of the school) taken by Wenningtonian David Richardson in1976 and professionally digitised in time for the weekend by Alive Studios in Devon (thankyou!). We missed Matt, but Sam and Grace made significant cataloguing inroads into a collection of Wennington photographs, and the long-term tasks are clearer.
And more: What have we left out? A lot! Fantastic meals by Vicky and Steph! Long conversations into the night. David Long solving technical problems! But as always, it has been a most productive and enjoyable week with Wennington Old Scholars, and we're already looking forward to next year!