Hello everyone from the brand new Participation and Engagement Officer for Heritage Quay, Dave Smith.
You may be wondering what that title means and it’s nothing to do with archive weddings. I’ve got a really exciting role, as it’s my job to find interesting ways to involve local or interested people in what we’ve got in our archive. Over the next three years I’ll be organising events, workshops and activities based on interesting people and stories from the collections, with lots of opportunities for everyone to get involved in the programme too. Keep an eye on the Heritage Quay website for more details.
As part of my first few weeks I’ve been exploring the Collection, a huge archive of scores and recordings of contemporary classical music from the last hundred years or so. Partly I’ve been looking for intriguing things (sometimes my job does feel like being detective) to plan activities around but I’ve been paying particular attention to the First World War era with the aim of creating activities using music about that conflict.
A highlight so far has been coming across the work of Ivor Gurney, a war poet and composer, who to my shame I’d never heard of. He was a fascinating man, in part because of the fact he wrote classical music in the trenches and it was very poignant reading about his life. Then I stumbled across his work In Flanders which was based on text by his friend (from before the War) and fellow solider Frederick Harvey. The words are a love letter to home from the Western Front:
I’m homesick for my hills again -
To see above the Severn plain
Unscabbarded against the sky
The blue high blade of Cotswold lie;
The giant clouds go royally
By jagged Malvern with a train
Where the land is low
Like a huge imprisoning O
I hear a heart that’s sound and high,
I hear the heart within me cry:
“I’m homesick for my hills again -
Cotswold or Malvern, sun or rain!
My hills again!”
They definitely struck a chord with me: Malvern is my home town! That feeling of exploring a huge archive and finding a story with a personal connection was thrilling and it’s my mission to help as many people as possible to have a similar experience here at Heritage Quay.
Hopefully I’ll see you at an event or activity and watch this space for details of what’s happening.
Originally posted on the University of Huddersfield blog here.