The Urban Vocal Group (UVG) 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 looked 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 participated in workshops led by singer songwriter Louise Jordan and visited local historical collections and museums to help build a clear picture of what life was really like for woman in Britain in the early 20th century. They then interpreted these stories through spoken word and song and the final resource recorded and made available as a CD and booklet.
The project also explored 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 the young people better understood the impact they had on our lives today and on the progress that has been made towards equality. 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.