A Swindon couple, on a battlefield tour in Ypres, Belgium, came across a poppy made by the young students at Oakfield School laid at the Menin Gate in remembrance of a Swindon solider as part of Create Studios’ WW1 project 100 Stories.
Pat Cook and her partner found the Swindon poppy whilst on a visit to the Menin Gate museum as part of the ANZAC day tour. Overhearing a conversation by Australian tourists about the London Tower Poppy on the Stone of Sacrifice, the couple found a poppy made by pupils at Swindon’s Oakfield School and got in touch upon their return.
Oakfield are an Alternative Education Project for young people aged 14-16 years based in Marlowe Avenue. They were chosen to work on a Project with Create Studios here in Swindon that was made possible by the Heritage Lottery Fund, involving a party of 7 students, 4 staff and a small film crew from Create who donated their time to support the educational heritage trip.
Ahead of the visit to Ypres each student was given a name of a local soldier to research who sadly did not return from the Great War. Part of their task was to locate where they were laid to rest or in some cases to honour them at the Menin Gate in Ypres where they also laid further poppies in honour of those who did not return.
They were also a tour guide reminding them that some of the fallen would sadly have been the same age as them. By the end of the visit the students quite openly admitted that initially they felt very little connection with the research project but that by the end of the trip they were all greatly moved by their experience and what they had learned about the sacrifices made. Michelle Webb from Oakfield said “To actually locate the final resting place of some of our local soldiers here in Swindon was so very moving for all of us and is an experience that I personally will never forget.
The moving 15 minute film, “Seven Soldiers”, documenting this process of discovery can be seen on the 100 Stories website www.100storiesww1.com, and was seen by over 25,000 people as part of the 100 Stories touring exhibition last year. It also features as part of the highlights of 2015 in Create’s showreel on its homepage and can be seen at www.createstudios.org.uk
Create Studios are a professional production company with an award-winning education and talent development strand at the heart of their work. Based in the centre of Swindon, they deliver film and digital media commissions as well as securing funding from partners like the Heritage Lottery Foundation to get young people involved in media production.
Marilyn Fitzgerald, Create’s Production Manager said of the Oakfield trip, “It was challenging to set up a filmmaking opportunity with young people in Europe, but the teams at Oakfield and Create worked together to provide a unique experience for young people which has a great impact on them and on the audiences of 100 Stories. We are busy planning our next Heritage Lottery project to bring more media making opportunities to Swindon. Also I love Oakfield, think it’s a great project and wanted so badly to support it.”