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Cumbrian school children awarded for lockdown poetry

Kirkoswald Primary School pupils receiving their Arts Awards from Community Engagement Officer Sam Tranter

Primary school pupils in part of Cumbria have been presented with arts awards for their poetry, including illustrated writing and video, sharing their outdoor experiences and love of their local landscape during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The North Pennines AONB Partnership has been running the poetry project through its Fellfoot Forward Landscape Partnership Scheme, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Pupils were encouraged to creatively connect with nature in their local area throughout the lockdown restrictions. The project gave support to teachers and also to families learning from home. Eden Valley-based poet and novelist, Katie Hale worked with the pupils through online workshops and creative prompts, hosted on the North Pennines AONB Partnership website. Over twenty pupils from Kirkoswald C of E Primary School and Hallbankgate Village School have now received an Arts Award at ‘Discover’ level for their work.

The children’s poetry described walks near home, enjoying the sounds of the countryside with quieter roads and having more time to simply watch a caterpillar or ‘foxgloves dancing in the wind’.

The Fellfoot Forward scheme includes the fellside and valley landscapes between Hallbankgate and Melmerby and a large section of the Cumbrian part of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and UNESCO Global Geopark.

The AONB Partnership was awarded over £2million of National Lottery funding to support the £3.4million Fellfoot Forward Landscape Partnership Scheme. The scheme brings together management and restoration of habitats such as woodland, peatland and grasslands, with community archaeology, conservation of historic buildings, community arts and education. The work is being delivered by the North Pennines AONB Partnership alongside partner organisations in the local area.

Samantha Tranter, Community Engagement Officer at the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said: “It has been heartening to engage with school children as part of the Fellfoot Forward scheme despite ongoing restrictions. By offering virtual workshops, we’re still able to read the children’s poetry, we can imagine walking along with them, sharing their renewed connection to back gardens, riverbanks and woodlands. I’ve been so impressed with the variety and standard of entries, it’s great that they are being recognised for their talents.”

Katie Hale, who is delivering the online workshops said: “Fellfoot Fables is a great catalyst to encourage children to enjoy writing. They have told us in their own words about farming life, what wildlife they’ve spotted on their doorstep and their hopes for the future. Receiving an Arts Award helps build their confidence and inspire a longer-term interest in creativity.”

The children’s writing will be celebrated on 1 October as part of National Poetry Day, with submissions shared through the North Pennines AONB Partnership website and on social media. ‘The River Flows’, an impressive film, made by ten-year old Cora from Kirkoswald Primary School, can be viewed here: https://bit.ly/fellfootfables. You can also hear audio recordings of poems by Eden and Sam aged 8 and Charlotte aged 10, also from Kirkoswald School. Natalie Tilbe, a teacher at Kirkoswald Primary School, has worked with the children on the Fellfoot Fables programme throughout lockdown and following their return to school, supported them to respond to the creative prompts and encouraged them to record their finished work for National Poetry Day.

Video workshops and worksheets created by Katie Hale, are still available on the North Pennines AONB Partnership website. As part of the North Pennines Stargazing Week in October half term, Fellfoot Fables will return to look at stories and poems with a dark skies theme and will be open to the wider community as well as local schools.

To get involved with the Fellfoot Fables project, contact Sam Tranter from the North Pennines AONB Partnership, on 07900 702314 or email [email protected], or get started with prompts and creative inspiration on the website https://bit.ly/fellfootfables

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