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We couldn’t have done it without you

Happy New Year from team Alarum! We’re currently looking ahead to touring plans for 2018 (more information shortly – or keep up to date with progress by browsing the rest of our shiny new website), and we’ve also been reflecting on the past year. It’s been an adventure and as ever we’re very grateful for your support and continued interest in the Idle Women project – we couldn’t have done it without you!

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In 2017 our ambitious plan, to recreate the journey of the wartime trainees over 15 weeks packed with performances and community encounters, came to fruition, and it was very rewarding to hear how much people enjoyed and found inspiration in our work.

We couldn’t have done this without:

  • the generosity of Alex Bennett in loaning us Tench for the entire 467.5 mile journey (plus her journey of 214 miles and 147 locks to get to Bull’s Bridge for the start)
  • volunteer Heather Boyce who steered for most of the tour and helped us negotiate the 356 locks
  • the 45 venues enabling us to put on 50 shows
  • our audiences, numbering over 2000
  • the generosity of those who contributed to our crowdfunder to pay for Tench’s running costs

We welcomed 18 volunteer trainees, all women, and encountered many more people during conversations at locks, on the towpath and at informal events and workshops.

One of our volunteers, Kirsten, took the above photo of (left to right) Heather Boyce, Kate Saffin, Alex Bennett and Heather Wastie on Tench when we all met up for the first time.

We couldn’t have been nearly so ambitious without financial support from Arts Council England, enabling us, amongst many other things, to employ two talented women – Tour Manager, Zoe Hunn and Director, Milla Jackson.

We couldn’t have attracted so much attention without outstanding PR support from Chloé Nelkin Consulting, Vince Haig‘s stunning poster design and the generous support of ABNB Boat Brokerage in providing all of our printed publicity. Thanks go to all those who wrote features, blogs and reviews, especially Andrew Denny for the 3-page spread in Waterways World.

We’re also very grateful to Thrupp Canal Cruising Club, Great Linford Parish council and Northants Inland Waterways Association who supported us financially, and to Canal & River Trust for invaluable support and assistance.

Another big thank you goes to Canals in Hackney User Group (CHUG) for generously funding our filmmaker Erin Hopkins whose resilience in the face of severe weather conditions (and sundry interruptions) is worthy of special mention. Erin’s films are a joy to watch.

Finally, we would like to thank Pernille Iverson for volunteering as admin support in the early stages of the tour, Mike Askin for loaning us a precious antique windlass and all those who have helped us in any way, from providing shower facilities to the loan of PA equipment at a moment’s notice. Our gratitude goes out to you all.

After our epic tour we set about commissioning a new website, and there was hardly time to draw breath before the autumn was upon us: Foxton Vintage Festival; Cropredy Village Hall; and the Barlow Theatre, Langley where we performed the wonderfully eerie Two Sides, commissioned from poet Emma Purshouse who had already run an excellent workshop for us during the summer. We finished with 5 shows in the Oxford area as well as spending an exciting day recording for BBC Countryfile.

At the end of the year, we were delighted to be featured in The Telegraph. It’s an excellent article with lots of photos and information about the trainees. Click HERE to read it.

Plans for the coming year are taking shape. We’ll be back with more very soon. In the meantime, here we are with a Bolinder engine at the Canal Museum, Stoke Bruerne wishing you all a wonderful year ahead!

Prev BBC Countryfile
Next Spring tour underway!

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