Communities celebrate as heritage projects awarded £50,000

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Communities taking part in 20 heritage projects across Furness are celebrating after receiving a share of £50,000 to support their efforts.

The grants are being awarded from the “Barrow’s Heritage – Micro to Mighty” scheme by Westmorland and Furness Council, supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Artists, musicians, bell ringers, cricketers, golfers, rugby players, school children and members of the d/Deaf community are among those whose projects are receiving micro-grants between £200 and £3,000 to continue their existing work or help new ideas off the ground.

The underlying aim of the scheme is to involve a wider range of people in heritage than previously by supporting organisations who are committed to exploring ways of reaching new and less engaged audiences.

Councillor Virginia Taylor, the council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Communities and Localities, said: “These Micro to Mighty grants enable people from all walks of life to explore together what life was like here in the past, and to capture memories in all sorts of imaginative ways – whether that’s making a film, writing or playing music, playing a round of golf with an antique hickory wood club or writing a seaside memory on a special piece of paper you’ve learned to make yourself.

“People come together in a shared interest at the workshops, activities and events. I am blown away by the number of volunteers and groups dedicating their time, knowledge and passion to these heritage projects. It enriches everyone when people of all ages, skills and experience work together celebrating the place where they live.

“There are Mighty benefits for everyone’s wellbeing, including combating loneliness which is a problem for many people nowadays. Our Council Plan recognises that the strength of Westmorland and Furness is in its people and this project really shows what that means. I’m delighted these grants will help so many worthwhile projects to thrive and so many people to take part.”

The “Barrow’s Heritage – Micro to Mighty” scheme is made possible with money raised by National Lottery players and builds on the success of a similar programme in 2017 when grants worth £51,000 were awarded to 20 applicants including schools, community groups and arts organisations.

Helen Featherstone, Director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “It is fantastic to see the progression of the Micro to Mighty community grants in Barrow and how the scheme is helping to engage local people in heritage that matters the most to them. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we are very proud to continue our support for this programme that will ensure more local stories are preserved for future generations and help to further a sense of pride in place for communities.”

The recipients of the latest grants worth a total of £50,000 are as follows:

  • BarrowFull - to explore Barrow’s notable residents and install a multimedia display in two telephone boxes.
  • CandoFM radio station - to perform a live heritage play.
  • Art Gene - to research, interview and record stories from past attendees of the old technical college, now the Nan Tait Centre in Barrow.
  • Bell ringers of St James’ Church, Barrow - to buy a projector, screen and wombel, a portable one-bell simulator which can be rung with a real bell rope to visually and audibly demonstrate what happens inside a bell tower, and to give members of the public a go under expert supervision.
  • Artworks - Art4All - to explore the history of paper making and to hold paper making workshops and host a community event (see case study below).
  • Barrow Cricket Club - to install an interpretation board displaying the club’s history and to hold a launch engagement event.
  • Barrow-in-Furness Civic and Local History Society - to host an event to promote the “Furness: Stories Behind the Stones” website and talks/tours, and to upload to the website additional details of gravestones of interest at churchyards and cemeteries across Furness.
  • The Dunnerholme Golf Club, Askam-in-Furness - to produce a timeline display board charting the club’s history from its founding to its 125th year, and to host a competition using the original 1900s hickory golf clubs (see case study below).
  • Lindal & Marton Parish Council - to restore the model of an iron ore mine pithead permanently housed in a glass case at St Peter’s Church, Lindal-in-Furness, to create new explanation boards and an audio description, and to hold a launch event to promote the project.
  • Friends of South Walney Infants - to involve school children in the history of a shelter on Walney. Freelancers will work with pupils on creative projects and display their work in the shelter. An interpretation board will also be created, explaining the relevance of the shelter to local people.
  • Friends of Artspace - to explore the history of Barrow’s music scene, engaging a wide cross section of the town’s population.
  • Seahouse Media - to create an album of original songs using the history of Barrow's working-class life as its subject matter.
  • Ormsgill Stronger Together - to hold workshops, visits and events to research the history and natural heritage of the disused Hawcoat Quarry in Ormsgill and the significance of St Bees sandstone.
  • Brathay Trust - to deliver a ‘Heritage roots and green shoots’ project working with a school to create awareness of local heritage and introduce green space as natural heritage at the school. The project will include local activities and a class-based heritage and nature committee.
  • Newbarns ward community and residents - to organise a series of local history walks in the Newbarns ward and the creation of history signs. The walks, conducted with local school children, will be led by local historians who will share interesting historical facts about Newbarns.
  • Friends of Ormsgill Reservoir - to host an event/workshop to engage the community in the history of Ormsgill Reservoir and encourage people to explore the heritage of allotments.
  • Drop Zone Youth Project - to deliver an intergenerational project around the history of Drop Zone’s base, Lakeland House in Barrow, originally a jute mill and then the Lakeland Pennine laundry.
  • Friends of Bram – to develop a piece of land as part of a children’s nursery and community hub for families in need on Barrow Island, with raised beds, a sensory garden, patio, kitchen cabin, Men in Sheds workshop and bicycle repairs. The Friends of Bram also plan to open up a WW2 air raid shelter on the site for educational purposes, and they hope to hold a grand opening for the entire project at the end of March 2024.
  • Barrow Raiders - to explore the history of women’s rugby league.
  • Cumbria Deaf Association - to celebrate 130 years of d/Deaf culture by producing a short film celebrating the charity's history and increasing awareness of the d/Deaf community in Barrow.

Case study 1: The Dunnerholme Golf Club

The Dunnerholme Golf Club is a links course with a spectacular location on the shores of the Duddon Estuary near Askam-in-Furness, looking out to sea and the Lake District fells.

Club members were “delighted” to be awarded a £2,128 micro grant and will be producing a timeline board to display on the outside of the club house, charting its history in words and photographs from its foundation in 1905 up to its 120th anniversary year in 2025.

The club will also be holding a competition on 2 August 2024 using the original hickory wood-shafted clubs from the 1900s and encouraging competitors to wear period dress to get into the spirit of the times along with the challenge of playing with antique equipment.

Club administrator Lynne Diggle said: “The competition and day’s events will be encouraging and inclusive of junior players, thus passing on the heritage of this long-lived pastime. The juniors will play alongside adults, giving everyone the chance to play with the clubs used back in the day.

“We will also be unveiling the timeline board and giving a talk about the history of golf clubs through the years.

“There are many golf clubs throughout Westmorland and Furness and with that comes a wealth of local history from long-serving members. We will be inviting some of the past and present members to come along and celebrate with us and share the stories of not only The Dunnerholme Golf Club but also the surrounding golf courses.”

Case study 2: Artworks – Art4All

This small team of Barrow-based volunteers uses art to bring people together and raise funds and awareness for mental health and wellbeing charities.

Their project “Turning the Tide” has received a £2,500 micro-grant and was inspired by the area’s long history of paper making to combine the themes of memories of water, combating pollution and making environmentally friendly paper by hand.

Artist and volunteer Sharon Tait said: “We still have large companies Kimberly-Clark in Barrow and James Cropper near Kendal. Artworks wanted to show people how to make environmentally friendly paper using traditional techniques. We wanted to provide a legacy so the project continues to run without any costs to groups involved.

“We didn’t want a gloomy message but one that suggests we can make a change. Stopping the impact pollution is having on the waters around us created an idea, and image, of a turning tide bringing in new waters and new opportunities.

“This then led to the idea of sending a message out to the sea of what it means to each of us. At the final event people will get the opportunity to send their handmade paper, with happy memories of times in or near water, out to sea. The paper will dissolve away and the words will be absorbed by the sea.”

Fifteen groups including schools and charities around Furness were given a kit including a hand blender, large bowls, environmentally friendly pens, paper making frames, towels, cloths, ladles, a timer and containers for pulp/dyes – roughly £50 per pack.

As word has spread, the project has gone on to work with many more groups, but the original 15 were CancerCare, StitchAbility, Drop Zone Education Group, Women’s Community Matters, Barrow Deaf Club, Furness Multicultural Community Forum, Carer Support Furness (Young Carers), St George’s CE Primary School, Barrow, Newbarns Primary School, Barrow, Dalton Girlguiding, Barrow Police Cadets, Moorfield Learning Centre, CroftAbility, Barrow Island Community Primary School, and Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Primary School, Dalton.

Sharon said: “The grant we received has been vital in helping us work with so many people.

“At the moment we have worked with more than 700 people with ages ranging from four to 88. We have worked in community halls, schools, outside in Barrow town centre, at learning hubs and in our own workshop space at Drop Zone, Lakeland House, in Barrow. The project has proved to be a great success and very popular.”

Each group taking part in “Turning the Tide” is given a folder of information about CancerCare, as part of Artworks’ efforts to support local charities.

“All the volunteers have favourite moments from delivering workshops in the community,” said Sharon. “For me some of these special moments include working with Carol who goes to Age UK Barrow & District’s art group. Carol made her piece of paper and cut it into a flip-flop shape, used natural dyes to paint it and then wrote about the time she had been sitting on the pier with her feet dangling over the edge. One of her flip-flops fell off and was lost and she told me this story with such a smile and lots of chuckling.

“Another was a young police cadet who had such a passion for fishing. He told me all about the local area and where he had fished. He clearly love the outdoors and talked about how important times by the water were to him.”

Poet Ann Grant has been helping people write their seaside memories onto the handmade paper and will also be on hand when “Turning the Tide” culminates with an event on the beach at Earnse Bay, Walney Island, on Sunday 24 March, 12pm to 5pm. Everyone is welcome for free hot soup and a chance to make your own paper and meet all the groups involved. There will be collection buckets for donations to CancerCare.

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