Schools keep story-telling alive in the Fens
A history project has been keeping traditional story-telling alive in the Fens.
The lottery-funded Noted Liars projeect has been taking place in all the primary schools in the Downham Market area over the past two years.
The title is taken from the cover of a book about local heritage and culture which features a medal given to the best storyteller in the village. The medal says the storyteller is the noted liar.
The work has been based on the writings of two Fenland storytellers, Arthur Randell who came from Magdalen and Walter Barrett from Brandon Creek.
Arthur Randell was a railwayman, farm worker and molecatcher, who worked the floodbanks off the Great Ousse from Magdalen to Denver Sluice. He died in 1988, at the age of 87.
Born in at Brandon Creek in 1891, Jack Barrett contracted ‘farmer’s lung’ in 1910 and suffered bouts of pneumonia in later life. He was rendered deaf in one ear by an exploding grenade during army training in 1914 and was medically discharged from the army the following year.
He worked as an insurance salesman, ran a workhouse and a country estate before he began writing stories in 1950. He died in 1974.
Schools involved in the project celebrating their lives and tales include Hillcrest Primary, Southery Academy, Hilgay Academy, Ten Mile Bank Academy, Upwell Academy, Denver Village School.
The project has helped introduce the stories to thousands of pupils.
One reacted to what she had learned by writing: “Our stories make us feel at home.” Another added: “Our stories come from the Fens, once flooded, always beloved.”
Ali Cupit, Year 5 teacher at the Nelson Academy in Downham Market said: “It was an amazing opportunity for the children to learn stories from their area and local traditions. The children loved being directly involved in writing their own play and performing on stage at a formal venue. An amazing time had by children and adults alike.”
The project comes to its climax with two large productions of story, dance and song at the Corn Exchange in King’s Lynn on July 2 and 3.
Performances will feature up to 100 pupils each day dancing, singing and acting on the huge stage.