So, when the Engagement Team was approached by Bishop Auckland Town Council and Eileen Harrop, vicar of St Anne’s church, about the planning of their advent celebrations, we immediately started looking at ways we could help.
As part of our mission to revitalise Bishop Auckland, it’s vital that we work together with partners in the community, such as the town council, the town team and local church groups. We knew the theme for the evening was ‘1,000 lights’, based on a carol the school children would sing on the night, and this inspired us to work on a lantern project.
As well as contributing to the town’s advent celebration, we wanted to raise the profile of The Auckland Project’s attractions and provide engaging educational activities for all the schools in the local area. We designed a lantern which children were able to decorate themselves, featuring the symbols for The Auckland Project’s Deer Park, Auckland Castle and the upcoming Faith Museum.
We also put together a teacher activity pack, which included a range of activities and information for schools relating to the themes suggested by our attractions: deer and reindeer, faith and light and medieval Christmases. The activities ranged from simple crafts, such as creating a pine cone reindeer, to more challenging activities, like writing a ‘mummers’ play’ and investigating shadows.
Over several days, we delivered teacher packs and over 4,000 lantern templates to 31 local schools. Some of them brought their lanterns to the town’s event on December 1, while some used them in school for fun, educational Christmas activities.
Several schools even contacted us to ask for more lanterns, to make sure all of their pupils had a chance to get involved. This was great feedback for us, as it reflected the appeal of the lanterns and indicated a growing awareness of The Auckland Project and a desire to work with us.
It was fantastic to see the lanterns on display at Number 42 before the event, and the ‘big kids’ in the Engagement Team enjoyed customising their own!
When the town council held their celebration, I was very excited to see many familiar faces – children and teachers we’ve worked with in the past, alongside new acquaintances who we will hopefully work with in the future – all carrying our lanterns. It was a lovely festive way to end the year.
About the author
Debra Nichol is Education Officer at The Auckland Project. She works to engage schools and other educational groups with The Auckland Project and their local heritage.