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Primary school pupils prepare 'poignant' performance about villages' war dead

PUBLISHED: 08:20 27 June 2019 | UPDATED: 08:38 27 June 2019

Children at Great Dunham Primary School are taking part in a heritage lottery funded project creating a performance about the lives of men from their village who died during the First World War. Photo: Gordon Phillips

Children at Great Dunham Primary School are taking part in a heritage lottery funded project creating a performance about the lives of men from their village who died during the First World War. Photo: Gordon Phillips

Gordon Phillips

Children from a Norfolk primary school have worked alongside a screenwriter to commemorate the men from their villages who died during the First World War.

Children at Great Dunham Primary School are taking part in a heritage lottery funded project creating a performance about the lives of men from their village who died during the First World War. Photo: Gordon Phillips Children at Great Dunham Primary School are taking part in a heritage lottery funded project creating a performance about the lives of men from their village who died during the First World War. Photo: Gordon Phillips

Year Five and Six pupils from Great Dunham Primary School will perform a piece based on the lives of the 21 men from Great and Little Dunham who lost their lives in battle during the Great War.

Heritage professional, Gordon Phillips, who is co-ordinating the project, said: "We do heritage work in schools.

"There are two of us who are project co-ordinators and do the work in the schools with the children."

He added: "I live in the village and one of the things I found most interesting was that a quarter of the men who died fought a long way away.

"They fought in Egypt, Iran and Iraq and people don't know that.

"The play merges fact and fiction and reflects both the experiences of the soldiers and of those left behind in the villages."

The project, titled Fields Familiar, Foreign and Faraway, has received funding from the Heritage Lottery, and will be performed on Monday, July 1, at 7pm, in Dereham's Memorial Hall, on Norwich Street.

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Mr Phillips, who has worked alongside musical coordinator Nicky Stockman on the year-long project, added: "The performance in the Memorial Hall in Dereham is particularly poignant, as this is where many of the men joined up.

"It will also be performed on July 1 - the 103rd anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme."

The children have researched the lives and military careers of the 21 Dunham men who died, and created a physical file for each soldier, which will be kept in the parish church.

And their performance will be based on the tragic events of the war for the local people.

Matilda, Henry, Verity and Viktor from Year Six were chosen to work alongside the TV screenwriter Holly Phillips - Mr Phillips' daughter - to create the narrative and script the story.

"She wrote a first scene of a play," Mr Phillips said.

"It was based on the characters the children had come up with, and then they each had to write a second scene.

"From that she chose four writers and works with them."

- The event is free to attend. For tickets, email office@great dunham.norfolk.sch.uk or ourworld.festivals@gmail.com



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