The Urban Vocal Group (UVG) has received a National Lottery grant of £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a First World War project ‘Never Had They Ever’. Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players and awarded through HLF’s ‘First World War: then and now’ programme and also supported by Wiltshire Music Connect, the project will look at the lives of women in Portsmouth and Salisbury during the war, the roles that they took on and the impact that this had on both the war effort and the perception of woman in society from then on.
Young people from Portsmouth and Salisbury will participate in workshops led by singer songwriter Louise Jordan and visits to local historical collections and museums to help them build a clear picture of what life was really like for woman in Britain in the early 20th century compared to how it is today. They will then interpret these stories through spoken word and song and the final resource will be recorded and available as a CD and booklet.During the First World War, women had opportunities to prove their value within society, for example filling in jobs vacated by men who had joined up to fight and organising football matches to raise funds for soldier’s charities.
The project will also explore extraordinary individual stories such as Portsea born engineer and inventor Hertha Ayrton and Salisbury based journalist Dorothy Lawrence who made her own way to the Western Front to report on stories from the front line. By exploring these inspirational women’s experiences of the First World War our young people will better understand the impact they had on our lives today and on the progress that has been made towards equality.With help from professionals, the stories and songs will be recorded in a professional studio. The final resource will be shared with local schools, music hubs and heritage organisations to inform and inspire others to explore women’s experiences of the First World War and the many ways that music can help preserve this heritage.
Commenting on the award, UVG Director Charlie Fletcher said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of the National Lottery and excited to have the opportunity to develop this unique approach to learning heritage.”Stuart McLeod, Head of HLF South East, said: “The impact of the First World War was far reaching, touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond. The Heritage Lottery Fund has already invested more than £90million to more than 1,700 projects – large and small – that are marking this global Centenary; with our small grants programme, we are enabling even more communities like those involved in ‘Never Had They Ever’ to explore the continuing legacy of this conflict and help local young people in particular to broaden their understanding of how it has shaped our modern world.”