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UEA project earns more that £75,000 in funding

PUBLISHED: 13:44 29 June 2017

Students at the University of East Anglia. Picture: Joakim Boren

Students at the University of East Anglia. Picture: Joakim Boren

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The University of East Anglia (UEA) has been awarded more than £75,000 for a project to continue the history of a Suffolk community that began almost 50 years ago.

Author Ronald Blythe at the special screening of Akenfield in Norwich Castle Museum. Photo: Steve Adams Author Ronald Blythe at the special screening of Akenfield in Norwich Castle Museum. Photo: Steve Adams

The Heritage Lottery Fund, funded by National Lottery players, has awarded the Akenfield Now project £76,300 which follows on from Ronald Blythe’s book Akenfield: Portrait of an English Village, first published in 1969.

Depicting life in Suffolk villages, it was based on the recollections of farmers and residents living near the author in the 1960s, the book became an international bestseller.

Led by Dr John Gordon, of UEA’s School of Education and Lifelong Learning, the project will involve Suffolk residents, students from Kesgrave High School in Ipswich, Sir Thomas Mills High School in Framlingham, and UEA.

The project aims to introduce students to oral history and film archiving. Students will work with the East Anglian Film Archive, Norfolk Record Office, BBC Voices, Empty Vessel theatre company and expert oral historians, to make films about life in Suffolk that match the accounts from 50 years ago.

School pupils will learn about local heritage by conducting history interviews with members of their community. They will also make films based on the interviews, presenting their own interpretation of what they learn.

Post-graduate students from UEA will provide guidance during filming, editing and archiving.

The project begins in September 2017 and will end in 2019 where the films will be screened alongside Peter Hall’s 1974 Akenfield film and films of East Anglia from the East Anglian Film Archive.

Dr Gordon said: “This project is important because it invites local young people to join the same tradition as the book, to represent their own heritage and community as they experience it in the 21st century.”

When published Blythe’s book was studied in high schools and universities in America and Canada. The film was treated to similar acclaim.

“We are delighted to receive the support of the National Lottery,” Dr Gordon said, “and confident the project will support young people to explore, understand and interpret their local heritage with pride. They will learn many new skills to inform their study in school and for life beyond.”

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