Enlist for a part in World War history project

05 August 2014

War ravaged naval personnel were helped on the road to recovery at a little-known rehabilitation centre at Kielder.

And the fascinating period of Northumberland’s history will be brought back to life in a unique event at Kielder Water & Forest Park.

In October, the award-winning Park will go back in time to a little remembered period during World War 2 through an experience known as Live Action Role Play or LARP.

Around 40 people are expected to take part, exploring the story of Kielder’s HMS Standard – a unique naval rehabilitation centre for service personnel diagnosed with a variety of psychiatric conditions, and volunteers are urged to enlist for the project.

HMS Standard, which was in use between 1942 and 1945, was based at a disused labour camp in Lewisburn, established by the Ministry of Labour prior to the Second World War.

The Royal Navy took the camp over in 1941, concerned by the number of men suffering from behavioural problems and worked to help the men return to active service, using forward thinking therapies based on fresh air, exercise and physical work.

The LARP event, titled Stone Frigate (a term given to onshore Royal Navy bases), is a project by Blaydon-based artist Matt Stokes and commissioned by Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust through its Art & Architecture programme.

Peter Sharpe, Kielder Art & Architecture curator, said: “The Stone Frigate is an exciting project that offers the public the opportunity to get involved with an innovative form of art, as well as learning about a fascinating part of Kielder’s unusual history.

“Today’s soldiers are also able to attend centres to help them recover from the rigours of recent combat but it’s not widely known that Kielder was a ground-breaking centre for military rehabilitation years ago.”

During the LARP, which will take place on Friday October 25 until Sunday October 27, participants will return to this era and live in character for the duration of the event, acting out the story as it develops and serving as their own audience.

Peter added: “Where the audience once watched, they will now participate and are central to the process of delivering this historical adventure. We’re really looking for people to come along and engage in this fascinating project.”

Kielder Art & Architecture is seeking participants to write their own history by taking part in the LARP and is interested in hearing from residents who may have direct memories or information connected to HMS Standard.

Volunteers are also being sought to help with the preparation and behind the scenes action during the event.

Matt Stokes will be organising a series of public presentations to help people to find out more about HMS Standard.

For more information about getting involved, contact stonefrigate@mail.com.

Kielder Water & Forest Park, which spans 250 square miles, is home to the largest working forest in England and the largest man-made lake in northern Europe. It was awarded the number one tourism experience in England by VisitEngland 2013, and the most tranquil place in England by the Campaign to Protect Rural England. Together with Northumberland National Park, it was granted gold tier Dark Sky Park status in December 2013. For more information see www.visitkielder.com.

Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust is a registered charity working to develop the Park as an inspirational place. It aims to improve economic, social and environmental sustainability, provide public recreation and leisure facilities, facilitate education in all aspects of the natural environment and advance art and architecture in the Park. The Trust works with the range of communities to benefit from these activities.

Members, who have appointed directors/trustees to serve on the board, are Northumbrian Water, Forestry Commission, Calvert Trust Kielder and Northumberland County Council. Affiliate organisations that are not members but have a close working relationship with KWFPDT include Arts Council England, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Environment Agency, The Scout Association and local decision making bodies such as the parish councils.

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