We were few but we were mighty! Yesterday’s development workshop looked at inspirational figures during WWII. This saw Ant giving his Winnie (Churchill not Beckett’s) and Paul showing his legs as Marlene D, with multiple George Formbys and Gracie Fields thrown in for good measure, as well as Sarah as the young Queen Mum taking the lead in not evacuating her children.
We also learnt about some inspirational figures closer to home. Within the West London suburbs we had WWII flying ace, Brendan ‘Paddy’ Finucane, a hero and heart throb to many. The group that explored his life brought back some powerful moments such as his prowess in the air, his superstitions on the ground and his prophesied watery death at the age of twenty-one, returning from a raid.
Another local forgotten legend was Amy Gentry, women’s rowing champion in the thirties and a champion of women’s rowing that eventually, through her endeavours, saw the first women’s rowing team in the 1976 Olympics. We learnt all about her in a This is Your Life improvisation that had Trish as a very convincing Eamon Andrews introducing surprise guests such as Amy’s coach, a sculling mate and no less a figure than Barnes Wallis for whom Amy was secretary during the war and witnessed the first trials of the bouncing bomb (gymnastically played by Ellie!).
The last part of the workshop focused on lifelong Twickenham resident, Freda Hammerton, who hails from a long line of Thames watermen. We dramatised some of Freda’s funny and sad memories of the war years from learning to swim, to aspiring to being a champion rower like Miss Gentry, to the untimely death of her father at the age of thirty-six from bomb blast.
Energised and elated, we called the workshop to a close at 3.15pm. We now look forward to the final of our development workshops on the 8th June to which I hope everyone can come as we draw this very fun and creative period to a close until we meet again in the autumn to cast our new Isleworth Community Play. Enjoy the photos.