Community support

Funding level: £1,001 to £5,000

Submitted by: Alexander House WM Ltd

Description

Our project, “Dr Plots Lesser Known Leek”, is about celebrating and raising awareness of Leek’s rich history and heritage through community art and craft workshops, practical demonstrations of lost skills, story telling, exhibitions and culminating in live street theatre and a community parade.

The event is organised by Leek Events, a voluntary community group, as part of Totally Locally Leek, led by the local shops to increase awareness of the town and encourage people to return to shopping in their local high street with independent shops. As part of this we put on a number of events through the year for the local community – Dr Plots being the biggest one.

Why is it called “Dr Plot’s…” well Leek has a special phenomenon that the Sun appears to set twice in the eve of the Summer Solstice and Dr Robert Plot recorded this in 1686 - He described how on midsummer's day the sun was observed from Leek churchyard to set behind a hill called the Cloud. It would then reappear and set again on the more distant horizon of the Cheshire plain.

This fact of the ‘Double Sunset’ is just one of the lesser know things about Leek that we want to make people aware of and increase the pride in their hometown.

Another, not very well known, fact is that the famous medieval poem ‘Sir Gawain & The Green Knight’, whilst having an anonymous author has been traced, through dialect to being written locally. The journey Gawain undertakes culminates at Lud’s Church, an immense natural cleft in the rock on the hillside above Gradbach, in a forest area known as the Black Forest, just a couple of miles outside of Leek. This poem has become a key part of Dr Plot’s with a live re-enactment of the poem and the main characters in the parade are Sir Gawain and The Green Knight, represented by 9ft ‘giants’.

Each year we add some extra characters to the parade – and encourage others to make their own. One of the workshops on the day of Dr Plots is ‘Cardboard Knights De Leek’ where children make armour, swords, shields and helmets out of cardboard and then parade with the victorious Gawain through the streets of Leek as his guard of honour. Around 200 children take part in this workshop alone on the day. Dr Plot’s has been run since 2014, with themes for our workshops covering ‘The Horrible Hats of History’ creating hats of some of the famous people linked with Leek – Bonnie Prince Charlie, French officers from Napoleon’s army who were held as prisoners of war in Leek, Victorian Stove Pipe hats etc. We have had a human loom to recreate Leek’s weaving heritage, Silk Printing, story telling tents, a shadow theatre recreation of the Bayeux Tapestry (Leek’s embroidery society created a life size reproduction of the Bayeux Tapestry 130 years ago) and more.

What would the money be used for?

All of the activities have been self-funded through donations, volunteer time and artists working for a reduced rate to deliver the programme. This has been done for £1,000 in 2015 and £1,500 in 2016. Most of the workshops are run on a ‘pay what you can afford’ basis to ensure no one is excluded.

We are applying for £5,000 to develop a bigger programme of events, activities and workshops with local schools involved, guided walks covering the last part of the Gawain Poem trail at Lud’s Church. To run a workshop costs in the region of £250 for a full day, including artists preparation and materials and we usually run 6 as part of Dr Plot’s.

With the £5,000 we could put on in the region of 15 workshops, have better promotional material and involve local schools in Dr Plot’s projects in the lead up to the main day.

By creating a bigger event around Dr Plot’s with more happening on the weekend and in the run up to Dr Plot’s more people will be involved making the event bigger and busier, increasing footfall in the town centre, attracting residents young and old, people from the surrounding area and tourists from

Leek Events

Location: Leek

Leek is a thriving market town with a rich heritage and history. It is a centre for the antiques trade and also a venue for the annual Arts Festival and Leek Blues Festival.

Leek is very much a community led town. Totally Locally is run by the people of Leek to attract visitors to our town.
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