Free #GreatWarMK Banner Making Workshop

Banner Making Workshop

At Westbury Arts Centre, Shenley Wood / Saturday 14th March 2015 / FREE

Banner Workshop flyerThe workshop is suitable for all levels of ability, from beginners interested in learning
textile skills, to those with advanced textiles skills.

The workshop will be run by Vinny Stapley, a textile artist and teacher, who plans to work with a wide range of groups within the Milton Keynes community to create hundreds of Banners to commemorate those people who served in The Great War.

The Banners made will form part of a procession of Remembrance and a Dance Performance in Campbell Park in July 2015.

Vinny will come in with some materials, but it would also contribute to the project as a whole, if participants were able to bring in old WW1 photos or other mementos of family members to discuss and maybe integrate copies of these into their own banners.

For Further information and to book a place please contact: Caroline Malone at Westbury Arts Centre via or 01908 501214 for more information about the arts centre please see:

Here are some images of banners already made during this project:

Great War MK Project Update

Great War MKGreat War MK is a collaborative project led by the Arts & Heritage Alliance Milton Keynes (AHA-MK). It explores the impact of the First World War on the communities of Milton Keynes – an area now covering six towns, 41 villages and 1/4 million people – through research, commemorative events, participatory learning activity and community workshops.

This Heritage Lottery funded project enables partners from the AHA-MK membership collectively to commemorate not only the stories from 100 years ago but also their legacy for modern Milton Keynes. Our aim is to inspire active participation amongst both native and new communities in Milton Keynes – in interviews, workshops and creative activities to produce informative and engaging new works. Great War MK will generate film screenings, music, dance, performances, archive material, exhibitions and installations, all of which will give fresh insights into the turmoil – and creativity – of those times.

If you want to get involved with Great War MK you can attend a workshop or come along to an event, all listed here or get in touch here.

You can find out more about the projects on our Vimeo page: and Facebook or follow @AHA_MK #GreatWarMK on Twitter.

Great War MK Programmes and EventsVinny Stapley Poppy Banner

Festive Road – Milton Keynes-based carnival company Festive Road are building full
size WW1 tank that will form the backdrop to their new performance informed by the tensions and challenges of frontline fighting. This outdoor artwork will be presented at night in various locations around Milton Keynes.

The Banner Project – Working with a talented textiles artist, Vinny Stapley, Westbury Arts Centre aims to create over 500 banners informed by the stories and memories of WW1. These beautiful commemorative banners will then be used to create a large-scale dance performance. Working with renowned choreographers Helen Parlor, Effie McGuire-Ward and Chris Bradley, a team of over 100 dancers will take part in this act of remembrance.

Cowper & Newton Museum – Working with Olney RFC the Cowper & Newton Museum will stage a commemorative Rugby match in January 2015 – in memory of local hero Edgar Mobbs. The Museum is also developing a Songs and Poetry Evening and an energetic Old Time Music Hall, breathing life into 100 year old music and verse, as well as presenting a new animation inspired by life in the trenches.

Frontline – MK Gallery is working with four local schools to explore the concept of conflict and how artists have represented war and wartime in their work. Groups of students will be visiting the Imperial War Museum and working with artists to develop their own artworks – culminating in an exhibition at MK Gallery project space in June 2015.

Living Archive – Working with a group of talented young people, professional musician Steven McDaniels will be supporting the development of new songs and music inspired by the WW1 stories held by Living Archive. These new songs will be performed at an event in May 2015. In addition, Living Archive will be developing digital stories bringing new life to re-mastered Living Archive Band recordings.

Independent Cinema MK – Local independent cinema company ICMK is exploring the ideas of propaganda and truth in their work creating stop-time animations with school children. These animations will form part of several ‘WW1 style’ screening events to take place around Milton Keynes, alongside other WW1 relevant film and footage.

Serving King and Country – Deanshanger Village Heritage Society have undertaken a research project to uncover information about the village in the WW1 period. Research will uncover life on the home front, those that served, those in reserved occupations – working on the land and at the famous E & H Roberts Iron Foundry. This project will result in exhibitions, creative workshops with school children, walks and archive material.

MK Heritage Association – Through support from MKHA, these local history projects also form part of Great War MK. These include:

  • Simpson History Group’s research project to better understand the lives of the men represented on their war memorial, work to restore the local memorials and production of a booklet to commemorate their sacrifice.
  • Bucks Constabulary Museum’s WW1 exhibition
  • North Crawley Historical Society’s research project to track and commemorate all those who fought and died from their village, producing an exhibition and booklet.

by Karen Kodish

Olney RFC commemorate famous wartime rugby game with centenary match #GreatWarMK

WW1 CNM Olney RFC Match100 years ago, on 30 January 1915, a charity International rugby match was played at the County Ground in Northampton between Scotland and England, arranged to help Olney resident, former Saints captain and England international Edgar Mobbs recruit sportsmen to his own World War One battalion.  To commemorate the centenary and honour the 16 Olney players who were killed in the Great War, Olney RFC is hosting a special event and two memorial rugby matches, with Edgar Mobbs’ family in attendance, on Saturday 24 January 2015, where current players from the East Midlands region will line up against The 1st Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment and Olney Ladies will face the Army Womens XV.

The event will include a display of rugby memorabilia and wartime photos of Olney sportspeople, and is supported by the Cowper and Newton Museum, the Royal British Legion, and the Heritage Lottery Fund.  Chairman of Olney Rugby Club, Jarlath McElroy, said: “Edgar Mobbs was both a sporting and war hero and we are proud to be hosting these matches with the support of his family and the Army.  A century on from that famous game, we are set for an enthralling encounter.  The day will be a fitting tribute to an exceptional man, a special piece of history, and to the many sportsmen from Olney and across the region who lost their lives in World War One.”

Olney RFC and Cowper and Newton Museum are working in partnership with Great War MK to deliver this event.

Appreciation for Nellie and Your Loving Brother Albert

Collected below are a selection of the reviews and comments we received after Rosemary Hill’s productions of ‘Nellie’ and ‘Your Loving Brother Albert’ in November.  Behind-the-scenes photographs courtesy of Karen Kodish.

by Karen Kodish

Karen Kodish

‘I can’t resist expressing my pleasure and gratitude in what you and your company delivered last night. The pleasure needs no explanation; it comes from seeing those two plays performed so well by mostly young casts, backed up by a superb, professional, creative team.

The gratitude is to you, personally, for treating the two scripts with such great respect. The young women in Nellie were a joy because they captured the spirit of Nellie and her friends and conveyed that mixture of fun, mischief and adventure, which they had in abundance in spite of the austerity of working class life, for women in particular, at the beginning of the 20th century. The irrepressible urge to live life to the full and to pour energy into the life of the community makes a powerful prelude to the war play that follows, where we witness that life force so abused and so grotesquely extinguished…’ Roy Nevitt

by Karen Kodish

Karen Kodish

‘In the wake of the 2014 Centenary director Rosemary Hill, having been approached to showcase these two plays, brings us two local stories which bring two different viewpoints of life during World War One to life from the stage of Radcliffe School Theatre in Wolverton. I’ll admit this much, I’d been looking forward this since Armistice Day on Tuesday at 11am when I was at work and all the machines were switched off, everyone went quiet and you could quite probably have heard a pin drop for those two minutes…’ Adam Wilby –

by Karen Kodish

Karen Kodish

‘Any doubts that the effects of the Great War did not filtrate right through to the heart of England are quickly dispelled in Pepper’s Ghost latest production of the celebrated community plays of the Eighties, devised by champions of the genre, Roy Nevitt and Roger Kitchen: ‘Nellie’ and ‘Your Loving Brother Albert’, and directed with her usual panache by Rosemary Hill…’ Neil Beardmore

by Karen Kodish

Karen Kodish

‘An excellent community event. The two plays contrast with each other beautifully. The life of a young women from Wolverton who survived the war and the story of a young man who didn’t. It is very important to keep telling these stories of one generation to those who come after them.’ Maggie Nevitt

Not About Heroes – 19/11 at Stantonbury Theatre

Not About Heroes

Performance inspired by the friendship of two war poets.

Stantonbury Theatre

Wednesday 19th November, 7.30 / £16, Concession £14

I am not concerned with Poetry. My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity.Wilfred Owen

Not About Heroes is the extraordinary story of two of the ‘Great War’ poets, Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, their friendship, their inter-dependency, their poetry. Through the letters and poems of these two men, Stephen MacDonald’s acclaimed play paints a vivid and moving picture of their friendship and the conflict that brought them together.

One hundred years on from the beginning of the First World War, Not About Heroes is both exhilarating and uncompromising in its exploration of love, war and a friendship that changed the face of British poetry.

Stantonbury Theatre commemorates the centenary of the outbreak of WW1 – ‘the war to end all wars’, and remembers those who fell then and have fallen since in service to their country.

Howard’s Sassoon is a sharp and slightly mocking character who clearly has little time for the establishment. His delivery of lines range from the funny and irreverent through to the heart breaking, something Howard does with consummate ease. Ashton is superb as Owen and develops nicely from the timid, lacking in confidence admirer of Sassoon’s work into the self-assured writer that we know Owen to be…Not About Heroes is a moving piece which has an even stronger impact this year and is thoroughly worth seeing whether you know the work of the poets or not”  The Public Reviews