Over 100 young people had the opportunity to perform alongside Lake Poets’ Marty Longstaff, the Sunderland singer/songwriter behind the moving ‘Shipyards’ track that appeared on the Netflix docu-series Sunderland ‘Til I Die this week.

Pupils from Grangetown Primary School and Hudson Road Primary School in Sunderland have been involved in the Heritage Lottery Funded project, ‘Unsung Heroes’ following funding secured from Sunderland Empire’s Creative Learning and Community Partnerships team. As part of the project which started in September 2018, students today presented their songs to their peers at Sunderland Minster.

The aim of the project is to connect the local community to Holy Trinity Church, Church Street East, Sunderland in recording heritage to preserve Sunderland’s First World War history; and writing songs to be exhibited at Holy Trinity Church when it reopens to the public in 2020, to help interpret and share the role of local people during the First World War to young learners.

The award-winning Creative Learning and Community Partnerships team at Sunderland Empire have worked closely the Churches Conservation Trust, alongside Marty Longstaff and local practitioner Janet Nettleton in songwriting and composition to create songs inspired by WW1.

Anthony Hope, Creative Learning and Community Partnerships Manager at Sunderland Empire said: “Unsung Heroes has been a poignant and moving project, giving local young people the opportunity to develop their own lasting legacy. We are committed to developing innovative and enriching cultural experiences for young people across the region in partnership. This funded project from the Heritage Lottery Fund has been instrumental in giving young people a further insight into WW1.”

The all-day event on Wednesday 13 February had been themed around the highly acclaimed production of War Horse which is currently playing at the Sunderland Empire. In addition to performances at the Minster, young people took part in a WW1 themed tour of the theatre, a Page to Stage workshop with the National Theatre to give young people a unique experience to interact with members of the War Horse creative and acting team ahead of seeing the matinee performance of War Horse.

The schools have also embarked on educational visits to Holy Trinity Church where they learnt from members of the Holy Trinity Ambassador Group about the history of the building and Sunderland’s wartime past.

The songs will be recorded and exhibited in Holy Trinity Church’s Library and War Memorial for future visitors to experience and enjoy and uploaded to Charanga, an online music resource for classroom teachers, for all primary schools in Sunderland to access.

For further information about project opportunities with the Creative Learning and Community Partnerships team at Sunderland Empire please contact 0191 566 1054 or email [email protected]


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