Living History at King James

October 2019


The event was an excellent opportunity for young people to hear about the war first hand and a huge success enjoyed by all.

King James I Academy recently brought World War II history to life in an intergenerational event involving senior citizens from the local community, primary school pupils from Crook Primary and students in Years 8-13 from the Academy.

The event was organised by Director of Learning for History, Miss Whitaker, as part of the Academy’s extensive Outreach Programme. Over 50 primary school pupils visited the Academy to take part in a variety of themed activities throughout the morning. Students learned the Jitterbug, made VE Day bunting, made WWII biscuits according to an authentic wartime recipe and took part in an activity which put them in the position of an evacuee deciding which of their possessions they should pack for their trip.

In the afternoon, the Main Hall was prepared for a VE Day street party, complete with traditional afternoon tea, and students were joined by three local residents, Winifred Lydon, Ann Lee and Colleen Marley, who were escorted by their care workers, Elaine Gardner and Sandra Baynham. As guests of honour, the ladies were treated to a lively performance of the Jitterbug which primary pupils had learned earlier in the day.

Students also heard the fascinating story of 96 year old Mrs Lydon, who was born in South Shields but moved to London during the war to join the RAF. At just 18 her job was to release barrage balloons. Primary pupils were keen to ask her all about her experiences and hear first hand what it was really like to live through such difficult times.

Miss Whitaker said, –I organised this event because I wanted to give our young people the opportunity to really appreciate the tragedies of war and the resilience of the people who lived through it. Winifred’s story is truly inspiring and all students were engrossed in her honest account of life at that time. I am so grateful to the ladies for agreeing to attend; they made the event very special and I am sure pupils will always remember it.”

Towards the end of the day, GCSE students at King James were treated to a quiet interview session with Winifred and her friends. Year 10 History student, Iben K said, –I really enjoyed the whole event and felt privileged to be able to hear Mrs Lydon’s amazing story. I was so impressed by her strength, courage and determination.”