Project inspired by old refugee photo

editorial image

An photograph from a bygone era has been the inspiration for a project commemorating World War One in Ripley.

The Fleet Arts’ WW1 project, called The Long Song, is funded by Ripley Town Council and has been running since 2014.

The project commemorates the centenary of how the war affected Ripley’s residents during WW1. Musician Julian Butt and writer Matt Black have been commissioned by Fleet Arts to run the workshops with schools and community groups of all ages.

Workshops have been taking place during June and July, inspired by the photo of Belgian refugees in Ripley (above).

Refugees from Belgium came to different parts of Derbyshire but a number came to Ripley. The picture includes women and men plus one child.

The workshops are with Waingroves School, Ripley Academy, Ripley Infant School, The Falcon cub pack of 1st Ripley Scouts and The Croft Rethink Centre in the town.

The children and adults have been working on writing that has been inspired by the photo, including writing the latest verses of The Long Song – a song that is being written over the period of
 the centenary from 2014 to 2018.

This and other songs were performed by children from all the schools involved this year as part of the schools event during Ripley Music Festival on Crossley Park in Ripley during the afternoon of Friday, July 14.

Julian Butt and Matt Black have been working on the project from the outset in 2014.

Julian said: ”Waingroves were a lovely group. The workshops went well and they completed another verse – they wrote some really good new words.

“The school was so pleased that their choir took on learning an additional song and I arranged for an extra workshop with the choir.

“This really swelled the sound when they performed the Long Song verses alongside Ripley Academy and the other schools at Ripley Music Festival.

“Fleet Arts has set up and co-ordinated the project and is very grateful for the financial support of Ripley Town Council, Ripley Music Festival and the different schools and groups who taken part.”

The schools and cubs performed in front of an audience of approximately 450 people at the festival.

Fleet Arts project worker Sarah Laman said: “It was great to have such a good audience. The children and young people sang and spoke very enthusiastically and clearly.

“In fact everyone there was enthusiastic, interested and attentive.

“It has been such as interesting and different way to commemorate how the events of WW1 affected Ripley.”