Monday 20 December 2021

Free Holiday Club in Camborne

 Very pleased to be at T2M Holiday Programme today (20 December 2021) at All Saints' Church, Roskear (in Camborne in west Cornwall) with our suitcases real and cardboard to talk about journeys and the issues around them as part of I PACKED THIS MYSELF. About 30 Primary School aged children attended.

Through the T2M Holiday Programme, local authorities are providing free holiday club provision, including healthy food and enriching activities, to children aged 5 to 16 eligible for benefits-related Free School Meals over the Easter, Summer and Christmas holidays in 2021. 

This programme is being delivered by Active Cornwall and partners to ensure all children in Cornwall eligible for Free Schools Meals will be offered activity during the 3 main school holidays.

This is particularly important during the pandemic.

The four-day programme at Roskear is looking at the theme of journeys. We played memory games with our painted suitcase, working out what each item painted in it was - and why someone might pack it. Very many thanks to Becky Lines, of Camborne Churches, for inviting us to join the group.




Monday 29 November 2021

Suitcases of important things

 A real treasure trove of ideas and drawings from children at St John's Catholic Primary School, Camborne, west Cornwall. We visited them earlier in November (2021) to talk about migration - people on the move. Anyone might need to leave home to find work.

We left cardboard cut-out suitcases with them and asked them to draw what they would take with them if they had to leave home for a long time.

Here is a just a snapshot of the results....Rory in Year 3 said he'd take pizza and chips to remind him of home. A toy car, his teddy and a piano that his grandfather gave him (that he knows how to play).

Amos inYear 5 took a mostly technological approach. He thought he'd take a tape player, two USB sticks with photos and his laptop. But he also drew his cat and a photo book (2014-21) 'because you want to look at old photos', a diary and fountain pen - because he likes using a fountain pen when he writes.  We're rolling out more of these workshops over the next few months and will put this work on display.

Friday 26 November 2021

A life in a backpack and evictions in Camborne

  A cold but exciting day in Camborne. Candy, who lives in the town and has known what it is like to have been homeless, unveiled the bag she has recreated for us.

The backpack on display is the actual bag she took on the road with her when she found herself homeless for the first time, 15 years ago.

She has re-assembled the things she took with her. To hear her talking about them, click here.

The bag is on display at the Christmas Tree Festival at Camborne Church which opened tonight (Friday 26 November 2021). It was a bleak evening but Holman Male Voice Choir braved the rain and threatening thunder storm.

Earlier another group, not far from the church, was drawing attention to a new phenomenon - homelessness caused by a lack of housing in Cornwall, now so popular with second home owners and landlords letting properties out as Air BandBs.

Jan Luscombe and his wife, Tara, have three children in Camborne schools but face eviction before Christmas from the property they are renting.

Monday 15 November 2021

Suitcases and the Land Army in World War One

  The wonders of Google. Not for the first time, am taken aback by the brilliance of the search button in Google photos. I punched in 'suitcase' when I was searching through our archives and what should appear but this photograph of women who joined the Land Army in World War One.

Their suitcases are carefully placed on the ground in front of them. I wonder what they packed in them. They had just arrived at Tregavethan Farm, Truro, where they were to be based.

This photograph is in the archives at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, and was one of many taken by A.W.Jordan, a prominent photographer in the county at that time.

Sunday 14 November 2021

Remembrance Day and the 25th Field Ambulance


A fantastic turnout in Camborne this morning to honour the town's war dead. An impressive parade led by Camborne Town Band ending at the church where wreaths were laid. Click on this link to hear the Band playing:


Alison Pooley, granddaughter of Dolcoath miner Leslie Pentecost who served in the 25th Field Ambulance with many of his fellow workers under Dr William Blackwood, laid a wreath in memory of the men. In 2018, we revisited the Western Front where the men had served with Camborne Youth Band. The Last Post was played on a 100-year-old bugle brought back by one of the men, Fred Negus.


Saturday 13 November 2021

Estaires remembers the Fallen

We were in Estaires three years ago to honour Cornish war dead with Mayor Bruno Ficheux. The town again this year remembered the fallen on Remembrance Day. The parade arrives at the British memorial at minute 12 in this film. 


Thursday 11 November 2021

The three Bird brothers remembered in Penzance

A good turn-out this Remembrance Day (11/11/21) at the Memorial Gardens at Penlee in Penzance.

The ceremony was led by the British Legion and a bugler played the Last Post and Reveille.

We laid a wreath in memory of the three Bird brothers in Penzance who tragically lost their lives in World War One.

A fourth brother, Hubert, survived more than a year of active service at the Front. After the war he returned to Canada (where he had emigrated as a very young man) and founded Bird Construction, one of the biggest construction firms in Canada.

Wednesday 10 November 2021

I PACKED THIS MYSELF in Herefordshire

So glad to hear from Tessa Wilkinson at St Mary's Church in Almeley, Herefordshire, who asked if we might send her materials after she saw a tweet by Bishop Hugh Nelson about our work in Cornwall on migration. 

The package arrived safely and - we are delighted to hear - proved very useful.

"The suitcases were brilliant," writes Tessa, "we had a service in church called Home sweet Home and during it reflected on what it must be like to have to flee from the safety of ones home and we asked people to reflect on what 6 things they thought they would grab if they had to leave home in a hurry.  We gave them each a suitcase with 6 pieces of paper in it and we asked them to write down their 6 items.  It worked really well, and they loved the suitcases!"

We are very happy to send out materials to other groups interested in exploring these very important themes.

This is part of I PACKED THIS MYSELF, work on migration aimed at breaking down prejudice against the people from overseas who play a vital role in the Cornish - and national - economy.  It is funded by Cornwall Council. 

Tuesday 9 November 2021

An assembly at St John's Catholic Primary School

It was so great to be back in school delivering an assembly - for the first time for two years as the pandemic stopped 'in person' work. Mirabela Robatzchi joined me to talk to 110 children about journeys and migration.  We were here exactly two years ago, delivering workshops on World War One.

Not for the first time in this school, we were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and interest of the children in the ideas behind I PACKED THIS MYSELF.

Mirabela talked about her journey from Romania to this country: she now lives in Helston and runs a taxi firm with her husband. She was a lawyer back home in Bucharest.

We also showed our exhibition suitcase painted with items brought by workers from eastern Europe who came to this country to pick daffodils.  Mirabela explained the cultural background behind each item. We asked children to think about what they would take if they had to set off on a long journey. 

We left behind a cut-out cardboard suitcase for each student to fill with words and drawings, and will return in a couple of weeks to see the results.

And finally - questions - so many questions! How did you feel when you were travelling- did you feel sad?

You do feel sad, said Mirabela, because you leave behind people and things that you know well. But it's also exciting and on a journey like this, you're always finding something new.

Someone asked how old she was when she left Romania. The answer: 40.

Did Mirabela know any English when she came? Yes - she studied in Primary School and at High School.

The most difficult thing? Hard to say - perhaps learning to work in a completely different area.

And finally, a charming question from an eight-year-old Romanian boy in the class. He'd arrived only recently in Cornwall but already spoke good English.

"Will you come to my house?" he asked.

"Of course!" said Mirabela. "That's very  Romanian."

Monday 8 November 2021

World War One centenary poetry from Hayle

As Remembrance Day approaches, just discovering poetry written in autumn 2018 in Hayle, Cornwall, a century after the guns finally fell silent on the Western Front. Click here to download a leaflet. 

This was part of our project Heroes of Hayle, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Keen writers – some experienced, some trying their hand for the first time - gathered at three workshops led by respected local writer Jenny Alexander. The poems marked the centenary of the end of World War One, looking at Hayle’s extraordinary social and industrial history.
The result is a moving and powerful anthology - poems reflecting the courage, stoicism and heartbreak of those terrible years.

Friday 22 October 2021

Homelessness on our doorsteps

Very good to have a long chat with Rev. Neil Potter of Camborne Church who does impressive work with the growing numbers of homeless in Camborne. He and his team have been providing an evening meal two nights a week for the past five to six years.

We met up because it occurred to me that the experience of homelessness had resonances with the experience of 'leaving home' (and all related issues) that we're exploring in our work on migration - I PACKED THIS MYSELF.  There's so much to talk about - so we plan a second meeting in a couple of weeks.

Neil told me about the growing problem of homelessness locally as the months pass and ever more tenants in Cornwall are being evicted by landlords, keen to either to sell properties in the booming real estate market or convert them into Air B and Bs.

Cornwall Council is envisaging a crisis and providing pods (containers) to house an anticipated surge in homelessness this winter. After the meeting I drove round to Rosewarne Car Park in Camborne to see work in progress for myself.

It's a sobering - and shocking - sight. Eighteen of these pods are under construction. They have beds, a shower, TV and microwave.  

Pods for families are planned for a site near Tesco Extra in Pool.

Wednesday 20 October 2021

Packing up postcards

 ... to send off to Herefordshire where St Mary's Church in Almeley has expressed interest in using them for a service this coming Sunday.

Great to think that our I PACKED THIS MYSELF language postcards will travel 'up country' for further use!

This service - on 'leaving home'  - looks likely to be particularly relevant to the themes of our project, funded by Cornwall Council.

It's about migration and asks the question: 'What would you take with you if you had to leave home for a long time?'

Monday 18 October 2021

Anti-Slavery Day

 Good to meet Jane Yeomans of Transformation Cornwall today in Truro. It's Anti-Slavery Day and Jane tells me about the work that her organisation is planning in Cornwall.  

Here's a link to the Devon and Cornwall Police web page about Modern Slavery which sets out terms and definitions well.

Driving up, I just miss a really good piece on Women's Hour, highlighting the work of the Salvation Army in this area. Link to the programme here - the item is 29 minutes in.

Costa at Treliske Retail Park is very convenient for a meeting. Not as pretty as Helston Boating lake - but ideal for a chat.

Tuesday 12 October 2021

Meeting with Bishop of St Germans

So pleased to be able to talk to the Rt Rev Hugh Nelson, Bishop of St Germans, today about our project I PACKED THIS MYSELF.  

It was a really good meeting: huge thanks to Bishop Hugh for taking the time to listen and for his enthusiasm.   

We're just starting to roll out plans for workshops in schools after the long months (years!) of the pandemic.

Monday 11 October 2021

A boating lake meeting

  Great to catch up with Mirabela at Helston Boating Lake for another long chat about the issues involved in the project. Mirabela - originally from Romania and with a legal training -  is so thoughtful. An hour and a half whizzes by.

We started meeting at the Boating Lake in the early days of the pandemic (as soon as it was possible) and it continues to be a very pleasant place for a coffee and a chat.

Wednesday 6 October 2021

Back on the road with lectures....

  The wonders of the internet - in this case, Microsoft Teams!

It was great for us to be able to give a lunchtime lecture at Callywith College, Bodmin, Cornwall, this afternoon (Wednesday 6 October 2021).  Mirabela, a Romanian lawyer now living in Helston, joined me to talk about migration and the hostility and prejudice often faced by migrants.

Some very good questions from students:  they asked Mirabela how long it took to adapt. And was language a real barrier?

And  - best of all - someone coming up at the end to volunteer to work with us and become more involved. We couldn't ask for a better result than that! 

This was part of our Cornwall Council funded work - I PACKED THIS MYSELF.

Wednesday 8 September 2021

The Bird brothers sacrificed in France and Flanders


It's three years now since the centenary of the end of World War One. But our research on uncovering local stories continues. The story of the Bird brothers from Penzance is the latest to be profiled on our our dedicated website Heart of Conflict.

Three of the surviving four sons of the late Henry Bird and Maud Bird of Morrab Terrace, Penzance were lost in Flanders and France in World War One. Thanks to the meticulous and extensive research of Richard Devonshire (who grew up in Townshend and Leedstown) we have been able to uncover their stories.  A fourth brother, Hubert, survived the war and went on to found one of of the most successful construction companies in Canada, Bird Construction.

Monday 17 May 2021

Petroc Trelawny discovers unexpected link to Camborne

 A top BBC presenter has discovered that he has an unexpected direct family link to Camborne and that local World War One hero Dr William Blackwood was his great grandfather.

BBC Radio 3 presenter Petroc Trelawny grew up near Helston and attended Helston School. He is the face of the BBC Proms and currently presents a weekday morning show on Radio 3. On New Year's Day 2020 and 2021 he was the host for the BBC broadcast of the Vienna New Year's Concert.  For more about Petroc Trelawny, click here.

Until hearing of our research into the 25th Field Ambulance and the Camborne miners in World War One, he had not known of his great grandfather’s wartime heroism.

“Frederick Blackwood, my grandfather, was a GP in St Keverne,” he said. “I knew he had grown up in Camborne, but was not aware of the achievements of his father, William Blackwood.”

In the years before World War One, William Blackwood had trained St John Ambulance teams in the town to help with First Aid provision in the mines. When war broke out, he set off to the battlefields with these men. They joined the 25th Field Ambulance and served on the Western Front throughout the 1914-18 conflict.

A Lt. Col. by the end of the war, Blackwood won the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) with a bar – in other words, he won it twice. This was incredibly rare. In the whole of WW1, 9,881 DSOs were awarded, but only 768 with a bar.

“We’ve discovered many of the descendants of the 25th Field Ambulance who still live locally,” says Bridging Arts director, Susan Roberts. “But until now we had not found any descendants of Dr Blackwood. We’ve been researching his story for several years now and it’s become clear that Dr Blackwood is something of a folk hero in Camborne. There are still - a few - people who actually remember him, others can remember their parents or grandparents talking about him.

“It’s so great to have discovered this connection with Petroc Trelawny which further cements his memory and is something of which Camborne can be so proud.”

Camborne Youth Band followed in the footsteps of Dr Blackwood and the Cornish miners in 2018, to mark the centenary of the end of the war. In the Band was Corey Williams, the great great grandson of one of the miners who played his 100-year-old bugle back on the Western Front.  Click to view a film about this.

Monday 8 March 2021

New stories of local World War One heroes

 It's two years now since the centenary of the end of World War One. But our research on uncovering local stories continues. Keep up-to-date with developments on our dedicated website Heart of Conflict.

We've recently found more descendants of men who signed up for the Royal Army Medical Corps under Dr William Blackwood of Camborne.

And discovered some heart-breaking stories of young Cornishmen who signed up for the Canadian Expeditionary Force and were killed on the Western Front.

Click here to visit

Tuesday 2 February 2021

"We're never doing an anti-immigrant story again"

Very good to hear about a total change of direction at the Daily Express BBC Radio 4 - The Media Show, "We're never doing an anti-immigrant story again"

In the programme: "Daily Express editor Gary Jones is Labour-voting, backed Remain, and wants his paper to reflect multicultural Britain. He tells Amol Rajan how he effected a complete change of direction at the tabloid, once known for its dodgy weather forecasts and anti-immigrant stance."

When we started work on migration-related issues in 2006, the Daily Express was one of the tabloid newspapers fuelling anti-immigration feeling with a stream of stories and incendiary headlines.

Hats off, Gary Jones.

Friday 22 January 2021

Interesting read ....

 A big thank you to Keno Toriello, who sent me a link to this article in the Guardian: This is what it's like to be an intensive care unit nurse right now.

It's by 'Anonymous' - and a good read. Especially when you get to the powerful and moving final paragraph that rounds it off:

"I’m an EU migrant, like a vast number of people working in intensive care. Many of us were working on New Year’s Eve when the law changed, and we went from being residents of this country to being guests with settled status. When all this is over, I hope there is an acknowledgement that we didn’t leave this country; we didn’t leave our posts, even when it felt like Britain abandoned us. The Brexit vote was about taking back control of our borders, but it turns out they were worried about the wrong kind of foreign invader – it was the virus that was the problem. I hope people will remember that when it came to it, it was those people who chose to make this country home who kept the lights on."

Surgical theatres and recovery departments being into intensive care wards for Covid patients. What would the NHS do without nurses like the author?

Keno Toriello, originally from Chile, is working with us on I PACKED THIS MYSELF, our work to break down prejudice against people from overseas living in Cornwall and often playing a vital role in the local economy.

Support Us

Bridging Arts depends on grants and charitable donations. To support us, click here.