Pupils in Calne who will take part in a £10,300 Lottery-funded project reflecting on the centenary of the First World War are hoping to speak to relatives of those who fought on the battlefield.
The project will see 30 pupils from John Bentley, St Mary’s and the Springfields Academy research the town’s wartime past and create a musical presentation based on their findings.
They will be supported by the Calne Music and Arts Festival, whose organisers secured the Lottery funding.
The pupils will visit the town’s war memorial to record the people listed there and research their lives.
But they also hope to interview local people and festival chairman Glenis Ansell is appealing for residents to get in touch to share their memories with the youngsters.
She said: “With the centenary of the First World War in 2014 there is a need and opportunity for young people in Calne to connect with this part of their fading local heritage.
“It’s to remind children about their heritage and the war and to give them a way of looking at it. We want to hear from anyone who has any recollection of anything in the First World War.”
The pupils will receive interview training from the Oral History Society, a national group set up to encourage people to record their own and other people’s life stories.
A team of professional musicians from Bath Philharmonic will also work with the pupils between February and May to turn their discoveries into a musical presentation.
This will be performed at St Mary’s Church on June 12 and a filmed recording of it will be archived at the Calne Heritage Centre and the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre.
Sue Boddington, curator at the Calne Heritage Centre, will help the pupils with their research and plans to share several of her own First World War stories with them.
She said: “The point of the project really is to end up paying homage to the names on the war memorial and the children are trying to find out more about these individuals.
“It will be a voyage of discovery for the children to understand what this tremendous sense of loss would have been like for people in small country towns when so many young men were taken.
“I was going to tell the children my mother had a second cousin who had eight sons and all of them were killed in the First World War. How you bear that sort of loss, I don’t know.”
To get in touch with your stories, contact Simon Parker by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting the festival’s website www.cmaf.org.uk