Thursday, 27 May 2010

Ham House's Birthday Celebrations!

Well, the day came, we saw it and we definitely conquered!

Last weekend saw the culmination of our efforts over the last 5 months. Expectations were high, and the worries of the past half year came to a head. Early views of the work at Ham Common, the brilliant puppets the students had made, as well as tech runs and leafleting gave us an early indication of how good the event would be. But still there was niggeling doubt. Would anyone show up??? And if they did, would they get rained on?

Saturday saw the students playing an early game of 'zip, zap, boing' much to the amusement of all around the grounds before settling in for a long and hard days work.

As Sunday came I suddenly realised I too had to 'step up to the plate' and do some work too, and it felt different. Being at Ham House alone and without students around for support. Looking at my last blog, discussing my attractions to working alone, it was odd to suddenly feel very lonely.

Luckily Ben was on hand, keeping me calm and cool in the 30 degree heat. My mum was even roped in at one point to sort flags for the choirs. It wasn't long before Lee and Brad turned up to rganise the speakers, Benedict and his band arrived to perfom with Ben and I was given a radio to be in constant communication with Gary, Jorge and the Ham House staff.

From around 2pm the whole event started to roll and nothing could stop it. Van after van arrived with equipment for the front and back of the house. Choir after choir arrived in their droves, wearing pastels and following their leaders. In a matter of days they went from wanting bring gazebos for the rain to worrying about how the heat may effect their voices! Oh well.

By the time I got to the warm up at 5.30 I was absolutely exhausted, but hearing all 400 people singing at once and leading them was truly inspirational and I remembered why I loved doing this job and why singing is so important.

As they began to scatter around the grounds and I heard the first strains of singing in the air I had a little cry to myself - we'd finally made it, we were finally here, and it sounded great.....................

...................Also I was Geordie in 30 degree heat and I hadn't eaten all day.

Community events are special. They bring people together, and they also make people the best they can be. I'm so honoured to have been part of this event and I hope to be in many more here at St Mary's.

I hope our students see the potential in these events for real social change and true empowerment for its participants. And for those students for whom this was their last event at St Mary's, I hope they were as inspired by it as I was. I truly hope this experience leads them to creating community events of their own.