Our Secret Forest: Journey into the past.

I was born in Gloucestershire. Grew up in Gloucestershire (in the Forest of Dean). Went to school and college here. After University I took up a position with the arts charity ‘Arts in Rural Gloucestershire’ (‘AIR in G’), a job which reconnects me with the area on a weekly basis. So, the idea of getting involved in a project called ‘Our Secret Forest’, all about delving into the history of the Forest of Dean should be a simple one, right? I should have a head start, shouldn’t I? Well, as it turns out, not really. I can recall snippets of half remembered memories of my great grandmother talking about life during the war when I was growing up and some research we did in school, part of a project called ‘Black Diamonds’ – which culminated in a theatre production about the Forest of Dean’s coal mining heritage. But aside from that it’s amazing how sketchy my knowledge is. So, going into this project is fascinating. Now older, perhaps a little wiser, I’m ready to properly reconnect to the place I still often refer to as ‘home’.

Alongside three other members of AIR in G we’ll be working with a team of adventurous and curious young people from the Forest – part of the theatre group ‘Found in the Forest Youth Theatre’. Our collective mission: to dig into the past and uncover the history of this beautiful place. To uncover what life was like living through WWII. To unearth memories, dust them off and preserve them for further generations who, like me – when the time is right – will want to know just what makes this place so unique. We’ll be reaching out to those who lived through this period, recording their spoken memories first hand. And finally commemorating this in a unique live theatre performance and exhibition.

 

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