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“Turtle Song” project for people living with dementia, Wolverhampton
Autumn 2016

It’s been such a great collaboration. You write a hell of a song! The people in the group really loved them, and your melodies were (I should say are!) irresistible. Thanks so much for the multiple skills and gifts you brought to this.
Tim Yealland, Head of Education, English Touring Opera

Creative writing for people with English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
2015/16
Brushstrokes is a community project based in Smethwick in the West Midlands. We work mainly with refugees and asylum seekers providing a variety of services including English classes.  As part of the Creative Black Country project, Heather Wastie ran two creative writing courses for us.  People attending were mainly asylum seekers from a range of cultural backgrounds, varied ability in spoken English and often trauma in the past. In our English classes the focus is on functional English. Heather gave people the opportunity to use their imagination and to express themselves freely through the spoken and written word.  The first course resulted in a moving video of a poem about longing and the second group produced a wonderful book with images taken on mobile phones as a starting point for some amazing poetry.
  Throughout the courses Heather inspired and encouraged in a quiet and sensitive way providing the perfect crucible for creative expression.
Jane Alsop, Brushstrokes ESOL Coordinator

“Plum Lines” Women in WW1 Workshop with Croome Court volunteers
May 2016

“Amazed at standard of poems written and tangible memory joggers.”
“Very enjoyable session. Thank you.”
“Very enjoyable. Good to share ideas and listen to the inspired thoughts of others. A well led workshop. Thank you Heather.”
“1. Good intro  2. Clearly stated what we are doing and why  3. Enough time to write  4. Went well, enjoyed it.”
“This has been a very stimulating experience and encouraged me to do more writing. The preparation was, in itself, an amazing experience and very valuable. I was hugely impressed by the others’ poems and very moved. The poems and intro Heather provided were most helpful.”

Worcester Writers’ Circle  “Plum Lines” Women in WW1 poetry workshop
March 2016
“Excellent workshop Heather, it has given me a new view and incentive to my poetry.”
“Thank you, Heather, for helping to clarify my muddle lines of poetry and for running such a productive and enjoyable workshop.”
“Smashing workshop – good original activities to describe and to “do” focusing the mind on specifics. Great facilitation and encouragement throughout.”
“The combination of the facilitator and the participants seemed to produce some magic from everyone. Thank you, Heather.”
“Very good & enjoyable. A catalyst for thought & further poems.”
“Thoroughly enjoyable session. Good direction; friendly, pertinent advice. We all produced a piece of work.”

Clent WI Weaving Yarns presentation
March 2016
“A lovely talk, plus delightful music, so interesting”
“Superb evening – very informative thank you – will definitely recommend you to other groups”
“Just lovely. Many thanks.”

Somerleyton WI Weaving Yarns presentation
March 2016
“Excellent. Loved the musical accompaniment. You brought the people to life. Poignant & fascinating. 5 stars!”
“Moved here 12 years ago & I have learnt more this evening about the industry & Kidderminster. Excellent poems, songs, lovely evening.”
Thank you so much for such a lovely evening enthralling Somerleyton WI with your Weaving Yarns. Not being a Kidderminster Lass, I have no knowledge of the carpet industry, but your poems and songs were a very good insight. I could see those ladies working in secret! And the couple falling in love – tying the knot. Your voice and persona are just right. My Grandma worked in a cotton mill in Lancashire in the 1920’s- it made me think what life in a mill must have been like for her. Thanks again.

Wyre Forest U3A Weaving Yarns presentation
January 2016
“A wonderful, inspirational talk – you have captured the spirit of the carpet industry most effectively. Thank you.”
“It was brilliant.”
We so enjoyed your presentation on Monday at the Town Hall, such a welcome antidote to dull January.”  Martin Delahay (Speaker Secretary)

Comments via Facebook:
“Just been to U3A meeting, which featured an excellent presentation at Kidderminster Town Hall by Heather Wastie the poet, of songs and poems about the carpet industry in Kidderminster. Really enjoyable, and brought back many happy memories. Thank you.”     Jenny
“Just been to a U3A meeting where Heather Wastie told the history of Kidder carpets in verse and song. Lovely voice Heather, didn’t expect that!”     Avril


Rock WI
Weaving Yarns presentation
January 2016

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed your presentation, it was a great antidote to post-Christmas blues!

Malvern Family History Group WWI Poetry Workshop
(Croome Plum Lines project)
November 2015

I have to say the response and the day went so well I have been overwhelmed at the positive feedback.
Heather Wastie was excellent. I was a little concerned about how it would go as for a family history society this was something completely different. She guided us through in how to approach it all and the result was amazing. There was so much charged emotion in the room recalling ancestors through a dramatic part of our history that it brought one or two to tears. Although in many cases these people were unknown to us in person, or may be just about, it was incredible how emotional it was. I think it was the power of the event and the poetry, wonderful. What our members produced from my point of view was incredible. I know nothing about poetry but it just shows what can be done.
On Wednesday we had our monthly meeting and we displayed the poems with a little background and I talked about the day and the results in my introduction. After reading them members came up to me and expressed their amazement at what was produced. We are also going to put them in our journal along with some background on the people written about.
So thank you for allowing us to be a part of this project.
Mike Speed, Chairman

An inspiring, thought provoking and moving day – very well led and good, positive feedback. Thank you.

Excellent, most revealing and really enjoyable day.

Great day – content just right. Very enjoyable and thought provoking.

An interesting, emotional experience, thank you.

Good day. Inspirational. Emotional. Thank you!

Heather encouraged us by using her own examples and helped us find the confidence to write poetry.

Very interesting day. Many thanks.

A very thought provoking and interesting day.

A lovely day. Didn’t know quite what to expect but really enjoyed my day. Thank you.

This was more enjoyable than I thought it would be. Very good.

Group size worked well and good to hear other stories first hand. Enjoyable time.

Thank you very much. Very thought provoking day.

An interesting day, very useful for getting to know other members of the group as well as the poem writing.

Witton WI Performance
July 2015

An inspiring view into an industrial past, which was so close to us geographically, but still a world away. Moving and so honest in its simple portrayal of characters, but beautifully expressed language and music.

New Baggeridge Active Retirement Group Performance
March 2015

What can I say, wonderful, wonderful. You have really made my day. I have recalled my working life this morning with great pleasure. Please carry on with your songs and poems. Thank you for coming, please come again.
Doreen Shelley

Thank you for a wonderful, nostalgic performance.
David Walters

Wollaston Retirement Group Performance
February 2015

Superb morning, thoroughly enjoyable, so cleverly presented.
This was a very interesting morning. Fabulous.
Most interesting – a unique look at the carpet industry.
Delightful morning – very nostalgic.
Great. She is very good.
Very interesting talk and music.
A very interesting and talented lady.
Very enjoyable and interesting.

The work that Heather has done as our Writer in Residence has been fantastic. …. She has an empathy with the people of Kidderminster and the work she has produced around her interviews with the volunteers is priceless. It has given our volunteers renewed vigour and a belief in themselves and the work they previously did. The Museum celebrates not just the product that was made in the town but the people that made it. They are the ones that should be celebrated and remembered and with Weaving Yarns, they were.”
Paul Kovacs, Manager, Museum of Carpet 2013

Kidderminster Stuff reviews

Kidderminster Stuff Slap Mag review

Slap Magazine, September 2013
Click to enlarge

Friday 16th August 2013 Boar’s Head Gallery

Thank you for a wonderful evening that was educational, entertaining, funny, sad, uplifting and thought provoking in turn. We all enjoyed it immensely.

What an evening! A magic carpet ride of tales and songs. Clever! Enthralling! And all beautifully performed. Well done Heather and Kate. So glad I was able to make it.

An excellent evening set against the backdrop of 21st Century Kidderminster noise. Stirring, evocative and funny and not least beautifully performed. A great night.

Wonderful performances. Made me appreciate Kidderminster’s carpet culture. Terrific stuff!

Clever well-balanced enjoyable evening. Thank you!

Perfect blend of history and the contemporary. The performers’ styles combine to create an entertaining, funny and moving performance. Truly excellent!

Interesting, informative, very entertaining. Beautiful singing.

I enjoyed it – good mixture of songs, anecdote, humour and stories. Kate has a haunting voice …. Keep up the good work and good luck at the museum!

It was brilliant!

Excellent performance.

Excellent performance – should have a wider audience

I was not sure if I would enjoy it as I wasn’t from the area but it was very entertaining. I shall have to make a trip to the carpet museum. It was wonderful hearing the lives of ordinary people and I enjoyed Kate’s modern touches.

Fascinating and innovative way of bringing the past to life and melding it with the present. Brilliant!

Wonderful – should be recorded


Saturday 17th August 2013 Museum of Carpet

Very entertaining evening.

Really enjoyed the show and the way it took you on a tour of the Museum at the same time – a good idea. Good mixture of fact, humour and pathos which kept it engaging. Nice links between past and present.

Fabulous insight into an industry sadly gone. Many of the terms used remind me of my husband who worked in the carpet trade for many years until being made redundant. This is bringing the carpet factories back to life.

Really good evening, entertaining, informative, humorous and interesting. Loved the music, the duets, individual stories. Thank you.

Wonderful!!

Very interesting evening.

Very moving performances as well as informative.

Wonderful, atmospheric performances, bringing the museum to life. Super mix of amusing and thought-provoking songs and poems. Thanks very much.

Very good programme. Loved the setting of the museum. Kate and Heather’s material blended well. Please repeat the show!

Great lyrics and music. Very interesting.

Really enjoyed the whole evening with the exception of the moving around. Thank you very much.

Really enjoyed the event. Brought back memories even though I am only 41! More events should use your venue. It’s a great museum.

It was excellent. Really enjoyed it. So imaginative. Where will the next performance be and when?

A most enjoyable evening.

Very entertaining and very reminiscent.

Thoroughly enjoyable evening, very nostalgic. Thank you.

Altogether excellent – I enjoyed the moving around! – a great evening. Thank you.

Excellent show – really enjoyed it. Learned a lot about the history of the town. Carpet Museum is excellent too.

Excellent. Very imaginative. Wonderful harmonies. Very creative use of space. I liked the contrasts between Kidderminster then and now. More people need to see/hear this performance.

Very good.

Writing Workshops

” As if it wasn’t enough to give me an enjoyable, life-affirming afternoon, you also gave me lots of ideas for writing and also lots of ideas and challenges for my own teaching. ‘Safe spaces’ are precious, and you seem incredibly gifted at providing those. It was very therapeutic and I have raved  to family and friends about it and your brilliant facilitating .”

” Made me get over “writers block” ”

” I liked the number of exercises – 4 – make us work! ”

” I liked having a writing exercise after the practical workshop – words arising out of practical creativity seem to be different. The opportunity to discuss poetic practice was really useful – I don’t get that anywhere else, and I have got a rather unusual proto-poem out of the exercise which I definitely would not have found within myself alone. Nothing I would change – just wish you had more people, as you deserve it. ”

” I liked seeing the museum and having an opportunity to write about what we saw and heard. With Heather’s input this became even more special – interesting – fascinating. ”

” I liked the combination of using the museum and its characters to help with the writing task. Very helpful. ”

” Helpfully structured. Clearly explained. Tasks possible but stretching. Supportive and encouraging facilitator. Interesting input. ”

Museum staff / volunteers / others

“It was so lovely chatting to you today and listening to your lovely song. It created such a wonderful and evocative atmosphere in the museum.”  Julie Alcorn, Museum staff

“It is very moving to hear the stories that we have all been determined for so long to celebrate by creating the museum.” Charles and Jean Talbot

“Really enjoyed my chat with you and telling you about my working life in the carpet industry. Your songs and poems are very moving especially the weaver’s song – Tying the Knot.” Sandra Ash

Comments in response to my poem Replacing heritage written after a Civic Society walk and talk.
“Wonderful. You’ve encapsulated so much information into evocative snapshots of the walk.”
“I am proud that my walking talk should have inspired your wonderful poem. I am also impressed with your grasp of the history.” Nigel Gilbert

Visit to Sight Concern
“A very enjoyable session particularly as some of our members worked in the carpet industry. Thank you very much.”
“Very interesting, brought back many memories of my time on the winding at Carpet Trades. Would love to hear more.”

Young people

The young people were well supported and encouraged by Heather to write and she reinforced well the validity of their words regardless of how they were written, it was nice to see even the most reluctant young person write something.

Succeeding in getting young people to read their words out is always a challenge but Heather was very supportive and understanding knowing just how far to encourage without putting too much pressure on, this was appreciated by the young people.

The work was shared via Social Media and on the Weaving Yarns website there was also local media coverage. The young people (and staff) were really pleased to see their work shared like that. The project was also in local press which, alongside the Museum of Carpet’s press coverage serves to keep the memories of Kidderminster history alive in the community.

Heather visited our club a number of times to promote the project to young people and she changed things as necessary to make it more accessible. This was appreciated by us as often people expect us to simply deliver young people to them, rather than coming to young people’s space to encourage them.

We involved different members of KDYT staff and we encouraged parents to attend. This meant that the young people could see the importance of Kidderminster from the perspective of their parents and their youth workers.

Some of the poetry written by staff and parents was ‘quite’ passionate and shared frustrations with how industry had changed and the impact of the job losses on whole communities. As this was being shared by people the young people trust they absorbed that passion perhaps more so than if they had been alone and they were able to see how the past still affected people they know now.”

Mike Brooke
Youth Development Officer

“Wrote great poems”
“It was really cool looking around the museum and writing poems”
“I enjoyed it. I like the accordion.”
“Cool”

“Enjoyed this very much. I hope we can start up again in the near future and write a lot more poetry about our history and about our lives. Been very interesting few weeks.” Youth Centre staff

We have enjoyed being involved
and as poets have evolved,
the museum is great,
something to celebrate.
Youth centre staff – sent as a tweet

Comments from Looked After Children:

“I liked everything about today.”
“This is a cool day.”
“I think its been a wonderful day and I have enjoyed it.”
“Unusual, interesting, good.”
“Epic.”

“The Weaving Yarns workshop for Looked After Children worked really well to engage Looked After Children in creative writing and photography. It was an opportunity for them to learn more about Kidderminster’s history in carpet making and be creative at the same time!!”
Joanne Frost
Community & Leisure Development Worker for LAC
ISL, Worcestershire County Council

Carpet Forest installation for Kidderminster Arts Festival

“The process of Heather collecting her research and stories was quite an undertaking, and watching sharing sessions throughout was a moving experience. Unearthing insights into local social history from people who are the last generation to understand a way of life and working and an industry that is almost lost to this country but which was a huge part in the development of the economy of the region.

Having Weaving Yarns as an element of our Carpet Forest installation was a gift, and in turn gave a fantastic environment to showcase a taster of this work. The recordings on mp3’s hidden in bird-boxes gave the public another element to interact with and on listening a sudden insight into the real heart of the work. The stories and Heather’s interpretation of them sparked conversations amongst families about their connections with the carpet industry.

The project has been very successful, the feedback from the performances at the Boar’s Head and the Museum of Carpet have been great, Weaving Yarns has been a great addition to the festival and seems to have the potential to continue in many different forms”

Loz Samuels Wyre Forest District Council Arts & Play Development Officer

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