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Winning Words Project LogoMy final report for the Barnard Castle Winning Words project is as follows:

In January 2012 Barnard Castle was chosen as one of seven Beacon Towns for the Cultural Olympics Winning Words project. Each town was tasked with encouraging the local community to celebrate 2012 by participating in the creation of poetry installations.

Barnard Castle decided to run the project at Level 2, which included encouraging schools to submit poetry created through the Generator and running a town poetry competition.

Anne Dauber’s poem The Great Grey Barn was chosen out of fifty entries from across the North East as the basis for the textile/poetry installation.

Textile artist Lone Helliwell ws appointed to facilitate workshops in Barnard Castle, Darlington and Richmond. Participants were invited to attend workshops or submit textile squares which interpreted parts of the winning poem. Twenty of these were chosen to create the final permanent installation. In the meantime, all short-listed poets were invited to record their work for a Radio Teesdale Book Programme and poems were exhibited in local shop windows throughout the summer.

As the initial poetry activities had not attracted the 7-11 age group, a series of summer writing sessions was arranged to be run in local libraries to complement the National Reading Challenge.

Teachers who attended the Generator Training and summer school participants were invited to take part in a Renga Relay with the support of Ian MacMillan, Radio Teesdale and Annalisa Ward. Ian recorded the final relay available in CD and MP3 formats. The library sessions and Renga Relay were extra activities to those stated in the original proposal.

Other additions include: registering NeST as an Arts Award Centre to provide the opportunity for 10 teenagers to gain Special Edition Bronze Arts Awards. Working with Jill Cole from Turrets Youth Theatre, I helped to deliver a twenty week programme which incorporated a performance evening at NeST (one of three extra events).

This part of the project was partially funded by the Dickens in Teesdale group. NeST and The Hub provided practice and performance space free of charge, Jill and myself (both trained Arts Award Advisers) gave our time to cover the extra input required beyond the writing workshops initially budgeted for.

The project exceeded initial targets. Regular press coverage through the local media, this blog and social media extended the reach of all events and activities.

It remains for me to thank Barnard Castle Vision CIC and NeST gallery for their support of this project as well as:

Trevor Brookes – The Teesdale Mercury

Jill Cole – Turrets Youth Theatre/ The Hub

Peter Dixon, Andrew Harrison and Sarah Fells – Radio Teesdale

Eve Galloway – Teesdale School Extended Services

Jo Heather – Mudfog Press

Lone Helliwell – Textile Artist

Catherine Jane Howard and Eva Zandman – NeST gallery

Richard Laidler – The Northern Echo Online

Elaine Mills – Barnard Castle Library

Sandra Moorhouse – Dickens in Teesdale

Jeff Price – Generator Poetry Trainer

Paul Rhea – Red Square Design

Gill Robinson – Village Halls Consortium

Annalisa Ward – Barney Guild

Finally, I am pleased to announce that following the success of the Teesdale Poetry event, several people have come forward to work together to establish a Teesdale Poetry Society which will research, record, read, write, perform and promote poetry with a connection to the area. We aim to import posts from this blog into a new wordpress site in 2013 in order to build on interest and enthusiasm generated by the Winning Words project.


NeST has a history of working with local poets to promote the gallery as a ‘surprising space’ for poetry.  We currently have a selection of pamphlets from Mudfog press which complement the theme of the current exhibition and Felicity Manning will give a reading from her new collection Long Held Notes on Sunday 4th March at 3p.m.

In the meantime the project steering group have been busy formulating plans for delivering the Winning Words project through NeST.  Members of the group include representatives from local schools, media and youth groups.

Barnard Castle is participating in level 2 of the national project which encourages members of the local community to celebrate 2012 by creating a local poetry installation.

Written material for this artwork will be gathered through poetry workshops and a local competition.  Winning entries will be exhibited as window vinyls in town centre shops and the overall winner will be incorporated into a textile installation.

As mentioned previously the idea is to use a poetry code to knit the winning poem into a textile picture which can be displayed in village halls, school and business receptions etc.  People will be able to buy into the legacy by purchasing postcards of the finished piece.

Earlier this week I visited Buttons & Bows shop in Barnard Castle to discuss sourcing local wool in rainbow colours.  As we need a heavy weight wool in order to knit on extreme needles I have hit my first hurdle.

Owner Sally Nicholls tells me that orange and yellow wools are rare so we may have to consider dyeing our own.  Sally was very helpful, gave me  a list of knitters, weavers and suppliers to contact.

If you know of anyone who has a spare fleece or two or balls of wool in requisite colours, please get in touch.  You can e-mail me on or tel: 07413 101014.

Mudfog poetry at NeST

Mudfog poetry at NeST