About The Project
Sight Support Derbyshire was awarded funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund to embark on a project, entitled 100 Years And Still Serving, to commemorate both the centenary of the First World War and 100 years since the start of our charity.
It involved around 30 of the charity’s blind and visually impaired members meeting regularly to research the history of the war through talks, visits to museums and the Staffordshire Regiment. Afterwards, and in response to this, they worked together to create a piece of tactile artwork which is currently being displayed at locations throughout Derby.
With the help of members we've compiled a booklet of top tips for working with blind and visually impaired people on community heritage projects. Click here to read and download the booklet as a pdf document.
Celebration Event - August 2015
Members and children involved in the project at the celebration event.
A banner inspired by World War One, created by visually impaired adults and children in Derbyshire, has been unveiled at a celebration event in South Normanton.
Assisted by community arts organisation Spiral Arts, members created a piece of tactile artwork in the form of a decorated banner made from three army blankets joined together with military brass buttons.
The banner will go on display to the public at various locations around Derbyshire, and has already gone on show at Derby Cathedral during an organ recital.
Jenny Anthony from Spiral Arts, said: “We wanted to create a piece of work that everyone could take part in making. We wanted the banner to reflect World War One but not necessarily to be a war banner, and we were inspired by seeing and holding the embroidered postcards sent by soldiers to their families.
“We worked with each member to fully utilise their individual sight capabilities. With the young people, we focused on animals that were used in the war, or were mascots, such as monkeys, horses, sea lions and camels.”
The banner is decorated with embroidered postcards, felt animals and box-pleat pockets. Each pocket contains an artefact to examine by hand.
Maureen Elliott from Spiral Arts added: “We have thoroughly enjoyed working on this interesting challenge. The sessions were nice sociable events and we’ve increased our knowledge of visual impairments. The participants surprised themselves with the amount of work they could create with help from us.”
Claire Winfield, Chief Executive, Sight Support Derbyshire, said: “When we talk about art, we automatically think of something visual. The banner is impressive to look at, but its beauty lies in the way it can be explored and appreciated using other senses like touch.”
Project Leader Tony Daw and SSD Chief Executive Claire Winfield with Jenny Anthony and Maureen Elliot from Spiral Arts.
Pictures: Bob and Margaret Smith
Chesterfield Youth Group - June 2015
Members of the charity’s Chesterfield Youth Group, which is supported by Chesterfield Borough Council’s Community Assemblies Community Chest, met to create their contribution to the artwork with the help of community arts organisation Spiral Arts.
This will be followed up by a visit to the recreated First World War trenches at The Staffordshire Regiment in Lichfield.
Kevin Gregory, Sight Support Derbyshire’s Children’s Project Leader, said: “Although we’re not revealing the form of the final artwork until the unveiling, all the members of the group enjoyed working in textiles which is a very tactile material.
“We meet fortnightly on Tuesdays in Chesterfield and the group is open to blind and visually impaired youngsters aged from six to 18. As well as arts and crafts activities we play sports and go on trips out. We provide a safe environment for children while their parents take a well-earned break, and we always welcome new members.”
Claire Winfield, Chief Executive of Sight Support Derbyshire, added: “It was very important to us that our younger members were involved in the Heritage Lottery Fund project, because their generation is the link to remembering the First World War. I can’t wait to see the final project.”
Anyone who would like information about the Chesterfield Youth Group should contact Kevin Gregory on 01332 292262 or email email@example.com.
The National Memorial Aboretum - 22nd May 2015
The next stage in our members' research took them to The National Memorial Aboretum at Alrewas to find out more about the soldiers who died during the First World War.
They attended the memorial service which is held at 11am every day, before visiting the Quiet Wood, which is dedicated to those who died during service in the War, to look for the memorials for local regiments.
The next step for the members is to begin work on their art project in response to everything they've experienced.
Below left: Memorial to the Royal Tank Regiment.
Below right: A thoughtful moment for members at The National Memorial Aboretum.
Re-enacting the past - Derby and Chesterfield, May 2015
The past came to life in May for Sight Support Derbyshire members taking part in our '100 Years and Still Serving' project.
Our members in Chesterfield came face to face with A British soldier, played by Scott Knowles of The Tommy Teaches, who told them all about life in the trenches and passed around pieces of the soldier's equipment, including a mess tin and bullets (see right). The meeting sparked the members' own stories about their relatives in the war.
At Derby Museum, members from the area met 'Nurse Agatha' and 'Soldier Bert' who stayed in character for the whole of their two-hour presentation about conditions during the First World War. Again, equipment was passed around for the members to examine. This included Bert's Enfield rifle, and some of Agatha's rather primitive surgical instruments.
Left: Soldier Bert and Nurse Agatha at Derby Museum.
Below right: Scott Knowles as a British Tommy in Chesterfield.
Below left: Members examine some of Nurse Agatha's surgical instruments at Derby Museum.
First meeting - Clay Cross Social Centre, 20th April 2015
The first meeting at Clay Cross Social Centre included talks on the history of Sight Support Derbyshire, the history of the First World War and wartime recipes. Spiral Arts led a creative activity where members made medals.
Some of the activities were led by visually impaired members. Barry Woodcock talked about World War One history, Carol Gadsby spoke about her family's experiences during the war, and Judy Taylor, one of the charity’s trustees, read out World War One poems in Braille.
Claire Winfield, Chief Executive of Sight Support Derbyshire, said: “It was exciting to be there for the start of the project and there was a lot of interest and enthusiasm from the members there. It will be interesting to see how it develops and what their finished piece of artwork looks like.”
The photos show (top right) members at the meeting, medal making activities (below left) and Judy Taylor reading poems in Braille (below right).