Lottery grant of £10,000 to Poppy Fields to mark First World War Centenary

Today, Valise Noire Storytelling Theatre has received £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a project, Poppy Fields, based in Poole. Awarded through HLF’s First World War: then and now programme, the project will focus on the creation of thousands of poppies made out of paper and wire to be included in site specific performances and shown in exhibitions telling local stories seen through the eyes of two First World War nurses, performed by Michele O'Brien and Hazel Evans.

The project will work in partnership with local schools, libraries and arts organisations from Bournemouth and Poole's Cultural Hub as well as Poole Borough Council, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Poole and Dorset History Centres.

To mark the Centenary of the First World War, the project will enable local people in Poole and Bournemouth to come together to preserve the memories and heritage of the people who lived through the First World War. Research will be carried out to inform the performances which will be shared with schools and the public and volunteers will collect photographs, newspaper clippings, documents, letters and photos of keepsakes, as well as family tales passed down to help them build a clear picture of what life was really like.

A reminiscence project about the heritage of the people of Bournemouth and Poole in 1914, in partnership with the Bournemouth and Poole Cultural Hub, the project includes storytelling and creative writing, drama and performances by Valise Noire, and researching individual stories. The activities will lead up to a special concert by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra on 15th October at the Lighthouse. A stunning backdrop of poppies will be created by children and young people across Bournemouth and Poole.

Michele O'Brien and Hazel Evans from Valise Noire, will gather information which will be used to create site specific interpretations and a three day pilgrimage. Through research women and children that worked in the war will be acknowledged and Valise Noire will investigate the connection between the arms manufacturing at the Cordite Factory in Poole, the soldiers using the arms and the nurses nursing the consequences of their use. The project will be fully documented resulting in an exhibition with a full installation of all the poppies created in workshops and by the public, launched to coincide with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra's Commemorative concert on 15th October. The general public will be encouraged to contribute through open public workshops, and invited to bring photographs and memorabilia connected to their relatives.

Poppy Fields is a Valise Noire project In partnership with The Heritage Lottery Fund, Bournemouth and Poole Cultural Hub,  Borough of Poole, Lighthouse Poole’s Centre for the Arts, Wave Arts Education Agency, Activate Performing Arts, The Arts University Bournemouth and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

Commenting on the award, Michele O'Brien and Hazel Evans from Valise Noire, said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and to realise our vision to create a stunning contemporary interpretation of heritage stories through interactive performance and visual arts.”



About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 36,000 projects with more than £6bn across the UK.  www.hlf.org.uk. Follow us on twitter @heritagelottery #understandingWW1

HLF-funded First World War projects include:

First World War Centenary Project, IWM London
An HLF grant of £4.5m is transforming IWM London (part of Imperial War Museums) by creating new ground-breaking First World War Galleries.

Flintham Society – Keeping the Home Fires Burning?
Keep the Homes Fires Burning? is a community history project looking at the impact of the First World War on life in the Nottinghamshire village of Flintham.

Tank Museum – Access all Areas, Dorset
Holding the world’s finest tank and armoured vehicle collection, The Tank Museum is a popular visitor attraction in the heart of Dorset. HLF’s grant is being used to house 130 ‘at risk’ vehicles, putting the entire collection indoors for the first time. 

Through its First World War: then and now programme, HLF is making at least £1million available per year for six years until 2019. It will provide grants between £3,000 and £10,000 enabling communities and groups right across the UK to explore, conserve and share their First World War heritage and deepen their understanding of the impact of the conflict.

To find out how to apply for funding visit www.hlf.org.uk/thenandnow. If a group needs a grant of more than £10,000 for a First World War project, it can apply to HLF through its open programmes www.hlf.org.uk/firstworldwar

UK Government Centenary plans
In June 2013, the Government set out its plans to mark the centenaries of the First World War commencing in 2014. These plans include a £35m refurbishment of the First World War galleries at the Imperial War Museum (IWM); The Government’s principal partners in the commemorations will be the Heritage Lottery Fund and the IWM, but will encompass support for a multitude of other initiatives, large and small, as they come together in the months and years to come.

For further information, images and interviews, please contact
For schools and libraries information please contact:
Poppy Fields Cultural Hub Project Manager
Helen Donaldson 07967609744

For Performances and Exhibitions please contact:
Valise Noire Directors
Michele O'Brien 07977 969 080
Hazel Evans 07922 862 605