Stories of life in Weardale captured by local schoolchildren are told in a new book.
We are Weardale is a compilation of works by pupils from local primary schools under the guidance of the North Pens writing group.
It is the culmination of a year-long creative literacy project delivered by Durham County Council’s community arts team and funded by the authority’s Weardale Area Action Partnership (AAP.)
Children from Wearhead, Stanhope Barrington, Wolsingham and St John’s Chapel primary schools took part in classes at Wolsingham Town Hall during which they visited the village library to take inspiration from its collection of books.
The workshops were led by members of the North Pens group including Circurama, which performed ‘The Creative Brain,’ an interactive performance about getting ideas from your head onto paper.
Published authors The Two Steves and Niel Bushnell (corr) also led sessions as did performance poet Terry Caffrey, illustrator Laura Brenchley and young storyteller of the year Jake Evans.
Creative writer Rachel Cochrane worked with pupils in their schools as part of the project, drawing on artefacts from the Weardale Museum to create stories and accounts.
Local residents were invited into the schools where they were interviewed by children about living and growing up in Weardale.
The result of the project was an exhibition which appeared at agricultural shows in Weardale last autumn and is now on display at the Durham Dales Centre.
The book has now been published and is available at the centre and libraries throughout the county.
Wearhead school deputy headteacher Liz Judges said: “It was a really valuable experience for our children to work with such talented and creative people and they thoroughly enjoyed interviewing members of the North Pens writing group.
“The project allowed pupils to really develop their creative writing skills and they consider it an honour to have had their work published.
“We’re all very grateful to the AAP for providing the funding which allowed We are Weardale to happen and to the staff at Wolsingham Library for being so helpful.”
Cllr Olwyn Gunn, the council’s Cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “It’s great that some of our schoolchildren have had the opportunity to hear the real life thoughts and experiences of living in Weardale and to work with such talented people in pulling this book together.
“We’re delighted that the combination of the AAP funding and the work of our community arts team has allowed us to play our part in local history being recorded in such a fantastic way.”