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Naseby Battlefield Project Team in Fire Rescue drama… well nearly

written by project manager Sara Mair

When I got a call from Bryony asking me to manage a MuBu funded project for Naseby Battlefield Project I knew it would be an offer I couldn’t refuse.

My last project with Naseby as part of Learning Links had been a definite career highlight. Martin Marix Evans, Deputy Chairman of the Trust, had the ambitious idea of getting a group of students to write, perform and record an audio tour The Sound of Battle bringing to life the events of the Battle of Naseby. Oh yes, and persuading the esteemed actor Robert Hardy (best known as Siegfried Farnham to many but Cornelius Fudge from Harry Potter to the ‘yout’) to be the narrator. It was a great idea but could we pull it off…

There were times when it was tricky due to Robert’s filming schedule (I think it’s ok to call him that) and the pressures of the academic calendar. But thanks to a brilliant teacher called Deborah Thompson and the dedication of the students at Northampton’s Abbeyfield School (who braved the Battlefield on a wild November day) we did it. So what did Martin have up his sleeve this time…

An audio tour of the Battlefield for people with visual impairments. How could I refuse! The plan was to create an audio guide using description to capture some important visual elements of the Battlefield tour to help people with visual impairments understand how the terrain influenced the outcome of the Battle.

Leicester-based arts organisation Watch this Space were commissioned to create the audio tour. WTS specialise in using live performance, original soundtrack and recorded visuals to create interactive audio and performance tours of unusual spaces. Arnold Civil, trustee of Northamptonshire Association for the Blind, was also on board to offer expert advice on the needs of people with visual impairments.

So Bryony, Steve and Paul from WTS, and I trundled down to Naseby and met the delightful Martin for a tour of the Battlefield. This time we were without the driving rain and snogging teenagers (although Bryony did her best impression of a disinterested truculent teenager being made to visit a historical site – that’s what the photo looks like anyway!) After Martin had shared his expert knowledge with us we decided to head for the Old Red Lion in Clipston for some sustenance…

En route we stopped at Naseby crossroads and noticed smoke pouring from a pub. We sat there watching for some time unsure if the pub was actually on fire (on reflection what else did we think was going on?!!!) and if we should take action. We decided it was probably all under control as the man hanging out of the upstairs window looked happy enough as he chatted to another man in the forecourt of the pub. Neither looked particularly worried so we went on our way. Martin later reported that the village was all blue flashing lights, ‘keep-away tape’, fire engines and police cars. All that was missing was Steve McQueen. It would appear that the pub had indeed been on fire and because there are thatched houses in the village, fires get top-of-the-range treatment! Oops. That’s our collective Fire Rescue Bravery Community Spirit Neighbourhood Award out of the window then.

The project is progressing nicely and I’m looking forward to hearing the first early sound ideas that WTS are currently working on in the studio. Thankfully for the people of Naseby we’re all slightly better at our day jobs than fighting fire.