Suffolk Archives Project To Lead Community Hub At Stowmarket Literary Festival

Volunteers from Stow Stories, one of Suffolk Archives latest outreach projects, are joining with local groups to host an information and activity hub at Primadonna festival, at the Museum of East Anglian Life from Friday 30 July to Sunday 1 August.

The team working on the Stow Stories project, which forms part of Suffolk Archives’ National Lottery Heritage Fund supported Sharing Suffolk Stories programme, have collected a fascinating selection of local stories, memories, maps, and landmarks to share with locals and visitors alike at the upcoming literary Festival.

The focus of the project has been to discover Stowmarket’s history, biodiversity, and landscape, and to reveal how raw materials from natural resources have influenced industries and led to the growth and prosperity of the town.

The festival’s community hub will unite groups that share an interest in Stowmarket’s heritage, culture, landscape and natural environment, forming part of ‘Together in Riverland’, which brings together a multitude of community groups and complements the overarching Primadonna 2021 theme: ‘The world as it should be’.

Participating groups include:

* Stowmarket Dementia Action Alliance
* Stowmarket Eco Future Group
* Red Gables Wellbeing Centre
* Walks and Wanders
* Stowmarket Wildlife Trust
* Stowmarket Rewilding Group
* Stowmarket Local History Group
* Museum of East Anglian Life

These community groups all share a common goal; to nurture people, places, and the natural environment, and all are keen to promote the ambition for a greener future, encouraging others to act now to tackle the biodiversity and climate change emergency.

Cllr Andrew Reid, Portfolio Holder for Heritage at Suffolk County Council, said: “Stow Stories has been a great opportunity for the local community to share their stories and record this important local history. The activity hub at the Primadonna festival will give more people the change to engage in this heritage project and continue this great work.”

Judith Thompson, Stow Stories founding research volunteer said: “The world as it should be at Primadonna 2021 offers the chance to lift our spirits through experience of kindness, creativity and harmony in a biodiversity-rich environment.

“From first thinking about this project I believed Stowmarket’s heritage was worthy of establishing a town-wide project accessible to all. The chance for Stow Stories to join others in presenting our Together in Riverland programme is fantastic.

“Stow Stories journey is a connecting, enriching adventure for volunteer researchers who continue to gather and share old and new stories involving the wider community. We now aim make a positive difference by valuing Stowmarket’s sense of place, its heritage landscape, and to help protect and enhance the natural world on our
doorstep.”

The Stow Stories-led hub will include ‘The Journey’; a shepherd’s hut and vintage Massey Ferguson 135 tractor. Stow Stories banners, colourful flags, bunting and other visuals will be on display, providing a welcoming space for local groups to network with each other, festival participants, and visitors. It will also act as a meeting point for themed walks and activities.

Catherine Riley, Primadonna Festival Director said: “We’re thrilled that Primadonna is going ahead this year and are delighted that Stow Stories is bringing such an exciting and inventive offer to the 2021 edition of the festival. We’ve programmed an amazing line up of writers, comedians, foodies and performers, along with film premieres, wellness
and loads of stuff for kids. And it’s Pay What You Can – we want to make sure everybody’s welcome. We’re excited that Stow Stories will be on hand to help us create the world as it should be for one weekend.”

Through storytelling and other activities, the Stow Stories project aims to share research which has a focus on the land, as well as looking at connections in Stowmarket and with the wider world. There will also be an opportunity for members of the public to contribute their own local stories and memories to be showcased on a new Stow Stories website, which is currently under development.

Anne Jenkins – Director England, Midlands and East at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “It is a pleasure to support the Suffolk Archives and help preserve for today’s and future generations some of the very finest examples of our heritage.

“Our support for the Suffolk Archives highlights our ongoing commitment to fund heritage projects and programmes across the Midlands and East of England. Over the last 12 months The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded 559 grants with a value of nearly £62 million across this area.”

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