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WWI educational project in Aberdeen secures Heritage Lottery Funding

23/05/14

A partnership project created by The Reading Bus in Aberdeen is to receive a grant of 60,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Working Life to War Life is an educational heritage project which seeks to empower pupils from areas of disadvantage, volunteers and young people in Aberdeen, to uncover and retell the transformation of people's working lives in the North-east East of Scotland during WWI, through an exciting mix of expressive arts and digital technology.

This year-long Reading Bus initiative, which got under way last month (April 2014) will see pupils research WWI-related websites to uncover the unknown stories of North-east folk who lived and worked during WWI. Pupils will also work with arts specialists to create animations which will be inspired by their research.

In partnership with the Gordon Highlanders Museum, young people and volunteers will participate and assist in workshops to help create all the music, audio and the physical content for an interactive WWI exhibition centrepiece with digital media partner MWB (Music Without Bars).

The project is expected to culminate in March 2015 with a promotional film; community war days; a programme of local events; a dedicated database website and a major exhibition at Aberdeen Maritime Museum.

The exhibition centrepiece will live on at the Gordon Highlanders Museum for a further year, and because it will be digitally created it will be available online so viewers, anywhere in the world, can relive the experience for years to come.

Leader of Aberdeen City Council Jenny Laing, who is also Convener of Education, Culture and Sport, said: "Working Life to War Life will provide a fascinating educational experience which will bring Aberdeen's history to life. Pupils from across the city will collaborate with artists, historians and curators to discover Aberdeen's significance during The Great War.

"The project will also provide a wealth of resources which will be shared with people across the North-east and beyond."

Colin McLean, Head of HLF Scotland, said: "World War I changed the face of modern history touching the lives of everyone in this country and beyond. HLF has committed to funding a variety of projects, from organisations large and small that will create a deeper understanding of the heritage of the conflict.

"Some of these will capture the memories of individual soldiers, regiments or families,delve into the stories behind names on local war memorials, while others like this project in Aberdeen will investigate the impact the conflict had on the whole community – at home and abroad. We have already supported over 35m of projects from across the United Kingdom and will continue to support as many applications as we can afford that want to commemorate the centenary."

Composer Robert Aitken added: "For young people and volunteers to help create a WWI immersive and interactive space is a once-in-a-life-time opportunity. Our intention is to explore the emotional turmoil that war brought to those at home, as well as those at the front in a unique and thought-provoking exhibition."

During 1914-1918 the North-east of Scotland saw a tremendous transformation in people's working lives. As well as the thousands of men who left every village, town and shire, the impact on those left at home was equally felt. The war effort touched every aspect of local working life; from the land that was toiled to the animals taken to be used on the war front and from the change in fishing and local industries to the impact on local culture and traditions.

Given the change in people's professions, the loss of vital information and local stories from deceased WWI descendants and the rapidly developed landscape around us, the need to record this period of time is very important. Working Life to War Life will tell to a new audience the story of period of local history that forever changed the working landscape of the North-east corner of Scotland.