Lottery cash boost to help school mark centenary of World War One

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Stonelow Junior School in Dronfield has received £10,000 from National Lottery players for a project - Dronfield’s Home Front 1917.

Awarded through Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) First World War: then and now programme, the project will focus on discovering what everyday life was like in Dronfield in 1917 and what impact the events of the First World War had on the town and its people.

The project will involve the current Year 5 pupils, parents and the local community, including the local residential home, Stonelow Court, in the research process.

Derbyshire Records Office holds the log books for the Dronfield Primary School of the time, giving the children and local community a starting point for their research. The children, staff and any volunteers will be given the opportunity to be trained by Derbyshire Records Office in how to use records for research purposes.

Further avenues of research include records of local industrial activity, including mining and the William Lee Ltd Iron Foundry, and Dronfield church records. The project will also investigate the role of the Dronfield Isolation Hospital during World War I. Food shortages were an important feature of 1917, and Nicola Verdon from Sheffield Hallam University who is researching food and farming, will support the research, giving further insight in to the lives of the people of Dronfield.

Activities will include an extra-curricular World War I intergenerational research club, drama and creative writing workshops led by skilled and experienced practitioners from Whitworks Adventures in Theatre.

This will be a year-long project ending in December 2017, culminating in the creation of a book containing research, and art and written responses from pupils and volunteers. The book will be given free to all the families in the primary school and other community members. This work will also form the heart of a celebration event at Christmas time exploring the local World War I research and the responses to it.

The discoveries of the project will be shared as widely as possible in Derbyshire and on-line.

Commenting on the award, Headteacher Alison Perkins said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and are looking forward to an exciting year developing our history skills in a very practical context.”

Louis, a year 5 pupil enthused, “I love learning things about the war and I love school, so it is a perfect mix,” while Lily (also in year 5) reflected that, “This project has inspired me to delve deeper into Dronfield’s history.”

Jonathan Platt, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East Midlands, said: “The impact of the First World War was far reaching, touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond. Thanks to National Lottery players the Heritage Lottery Fund has already been able to invest more than £83 million in more than 1,640 projects – large and small - that are marking this global Centenary. With this funding we are enabling even more communities like those involved in Dronfield’s Home Front 1917 to explore the continuing legacy of this conflict and help people to broaden their understanding of how it has shaped our modern world.