Meet The Maker


What's On?

This month is our "Get Back Into - Be Inspired" theme and we're encouraging people to get back into their Covid-secure local venues as they begin to open up their doors once again. Check out the event listings on Creative Hertfordshire, or head to your local venues website to see their latest updates!

Help start a tiny revolution by joining in with a Fun Palace this weekend! Creativity in community can change the world for the better, to celebrate each other, remember those we have lost and to connect with our neighbours. Fun Palaces usually have anything from 20 to 2000 participants, however in response to Covid-19, they are encouraging extra-small, hyper-local Fun Palaces this weekend. They'll be popping up physically and virtually across the county this weekend - find your local one here, or host your own using our HYOC2020 Activity Pack.

October also brings us Black History Month. There's a range of events going on across the county, from Herts Archives' part 1 of their online "Windrush and Beyond" exhibition, an online talk about Hertfordshire’s involvement with the transatlantic slave trade and its abolition, as well as Black Voice Letchworth and the Black History Museum Library and School of Cultural and Creative Arts' "One Woman Black History Show".

A Guide to CH

Do you have an online event or activity that you'd like to share? Here's how:

1. Go to and click “Join Network” at the top right of the screen

2. Fill out your details and click “Join Creative Hertfordshire”

3. Once you have successfully created your account you will be sent a confirmation email. You must click the link in this email in order to activate your account, you will not be able to create a profile until you have activated your account.

If you do not see the email, please check your spam. If you do not receive this email after 1 hour, please email

1. Once you have created an account and are logged in, hover the cursor over the ‘Login/My Account’ button at the top of the screen.

2. From the dropdown menu, click ‘My Content’. This will bring you to a new page which gives you option to change your profile, list events, opportunities and more.

3. If you are adding an activity/resource that can be accessed at any time, please add it as an opportunity (‘My Opportunities’). If it is an event/activity that is date specific, please list it as an event (‘My Event’). Once you have selected opportunity or event, click the bold ‘add one’.

4.For listings added as opportunities, please fill in your opportunity details, including a link where possible. Click ‘Opportunity Categorisation' to expand the menu, selecting 'Online' as opportunity type. Then select 'add opportunity' at the bottom of the page.

   For listings added as events, simply fill in as much information as needed before selecting ‘Add Event’ at the bottom of the page.

This will then go to moderators to be approved. Please be aware that you must be Hertfordshire based and provide a Hertfordshire postcode.

HYOC2020 Enabling Fund

Small Grants for Socially Distant projects

HYOC2020 has made grants of up to £300 available to support organisations to deliver projects in a socially distant way.  The Enabling Fund can be used to fund all or part of projects, events or services that have had to be amended or changed in the light of the current restrictions on social contact.  This might be for a completely new activity, or to support a new way of delivering projects to your existing service users or community.  There is no deadline and decisions can be made within 2 weeks.  

For more information contact Project Coordinator Liz Gore on

Funding and Support

Funding Updates

There is a range of funding available at both a local and national level to support organisations and individuals affected by the Coronavirus.  General information on all aspects of the crisis including links to the most up to date Central Government information, can be found via the County Council’s coronavirus pages.

Grants Online

Grants Online  have pulled together a comprehensive and regularly updated list of funding opportunities specifically related to supporting organisations through the pandemic which can be accessed on their website without a subscription.

Herts Sports Partnership

HSP have produced a funding newsletter which is extremely useful and can be found on their website.  It includes information on local authority funding alongside other local, national and sport specific funding packages. 


Local Funding

Hertfordshire Community Foundation

Hertfordshire Community Foundation is an independent charity which manages a range of funding sources for local voluntary and community sector organisations.  For information on currently available funding visit their website. 

HCF Workforce Development Grants

Grants of up to £2,000 are now available for learning and development in voluntary and community organisations in Hertfordshire.  HCC Adult Care Services are funding this grant scheme for VCS organisations that provide adult social care in Hertfordshire. The grants are managed by HCF Training and Development and can be used to support workforce development, training, coaching, equipment and costs associated with accreditation.  For more information and to check your eligibility, visit the website.

Hertfordshire County Council Locality Budget

You can apply to your local county councilor directly if you are a local organisation who is offering support to those affected by the coronavirus.

Crowdfund Hertfordshire:

Crowdfunder are working with a number of partners across Hertfordshire, helping to make great ideas happen through a combination of expert crowdfunding coaching, events and grants. They are looking to support not-for-profit organisations working with local communities in Hertfordshire that aim to make communities stronger, more connected, capable, active, safer, fairer and more inclusive. For any queries relating to these funds please contact Hertfordshire Community Foundation at

Crowdfund Hertfordshire: Small Business Innovation Fund

Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Visit Herts are working in partnership to offer small and micro businesses within the tourism, leisure, hospitality, retail, arts and cultural sectors the chance to unlock match funding to help overcome the challenges of Covid-19.The £200,000 Hertfordshire LEP fund will be administered by Visit Herts. Participating businesses will raise money for their project through pledges from their community and loyal customers. Once a business secures their target, successful applicants will be able to unlock between £2,000 - £5,000 in match-funding. To qualify, your business will need to be located in Hertfordshire and be a micro or small business primarily operating in tourism, leisure, hospitality, retail, arts or culture sectors. You will need to demonstrate that your business has been affected by Covid-19 and how you would use the funding to adapt your current business to either operate during lockdown, or to adjust to post lockdown measures as well as clearly demonstrating that the adjustments you intend to make will help protect jobs directly within your business.


Locally you can find information and support for your organisation via your local Council for Voluntary Service.  You can also find out about volunteering opportunities to support others across the County via #TeamHerts

National Funding

Garfield Weston Foundation (UK) Weston Culture Fund 

The Garfield Weston Foundation has established a new £25 million one-off fund to support mid to large scale cultural organisations that have been badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Performing and visual arts organisations, arts centres, and accredited museums and galleries across the UK with a minimum income of £500,000 in a typical year, can apply for funding of up to £2 million each from the Weston Culture Fund to help them restart work, re-engage with audiences, adapt to changed circumstances, and generate revenue. The Foundation is finalising details for the Fund which will open to applications on the 5th October 2020 and remain open until the 9th November 2020.

Armed Forces Covenant Fund (UK) Force for Change Programme 

Grants of up to £20,000 are available for projects supporting Armed Forces communities to become less isolated and engage more in their local area and the needs that have arisen as a result of Covid-19. To be eligible to apply, the applicant organisation must be an established registered charity or Community Interest Company (CIC) with substantial recent experience of supporting Armed Forces communities; an Armed Forces unit or base; a local authority; or a school. The funding is being made available through the Armed Forces Covenant Fund’s Force for Change programme. The closing date for applications for this funding round is noon on Monday the 30th November 2020.

Grants for the Conservation of Wildlife and the Environment

Monthly grants are made to support the conservation of wildlife and the environment by the HDH Wills 1965 Charitable Trust. The Trust makes grants of between £250 and £500 (sometimes up to £5,000) to general, environmental and wildlife charities, so long as they are registered with the Charity Commission of England and Wales or they are exempt or excepted charities (within the meaning of the Charities Act 2011). Supported charities will be small in size or be applying for support for a modest project, such that the grant will have a meaningful impact. There are no deadlines, grants may be made towards revenue, capital or project expenditure and email, postal or online applications are accepted. 

Theatre Artists Fund -

The fund has been set up to provide emergency support for theatre workers and freelancers who remain out of work.  The fund has reopened as of 27 August 2020 following a donation of £1m from the Arts Council. 


BBC Children In Need COVID-19 Next Steps Grant -

The BBC Children In Need Next Steps programme  Next Steps programme is designed to deliver support for children and young people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  These grants can last up to 18 months.   The current programme is now closed but further rounds will open in October.

Tesco Bags of Help COVID-19 Communities Fund

Tesco Bags of Help is responding to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis by setting up a new short-term fund to support local communities. The programme is set up to support organisational need in this time of crisis rather than fund specific projects.

Music for All Extends Application Deadline to 1st November 2020

Grants of up to £2,500 are available to UK based community groups and schools who would benefit from a “helping hand” to bring music to their community and fulfil their potential in becoming truly sustainable music programmes. The funding which is being made available by the charity Music for All, can be put towards musical instrument costs, workshops/training, using music to break down barriers, providing a variety of educational opportunities as well as helping to find ways to integrate many diverse and minority groups positively into society. Funding of up to £500 is also available to individuals who do not have the means to access musical instruments and lessons.

Due to the Coronavirus crisis, the deadline for applications has been extended for this bidding round from the 1st July 2020 to the 1st November 2020.

North Star Project (artist support for applications and advice)

The New Diorama have always worked to support the best artists and companies through difficult times – now, in this moment of crisis, they want to throw support open to whoever needs it across the sector. They are offering a suite of support for artists and companies through COVID-19 and its affects.

Grocers' Charity

Financial support for UK-registered charities, with the selection of recipients being regularly reviewed in line with a policy to support specific areas of need. The relief of poverty (including youth poverty) and help for the disabled usually take priority, with medicine, the arts, heritage, the Church and the elderly also designated.

The Art Fund Respond and Reimagine Scheme https:/

UK public museums, galleries, historic houses, libraries and archives can apply for grants of up to £50,000 to help them respond to immediate challenges connected to the Covid-19 crisis, and to adapt and reimagine ways of working in the future. Through the Art Fund’s Respond and Reimagine Scheme grants are available to provide immediate practical support connected to reopening such as staffing, equipment, training, or planning for future activities, and to provide opportunities for organisations to help them adapt for the future.

Association of Independent Music (UK) Aim Crisis Fund for Independent Music Contractors 

The Association of Independent Music (AIM) has announced that AIM and its members have launched a support fund aimed at the contractors and freelance workers in the independent music industry whose source of income has been severed without warning due to lost work in April and May as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. AIM Rightsholder members can now invite their artists and their artists’ managers to nominate candidates to be pre-approved on this basis.

Association of Mental Health Providers (UK) Mental Health Response Fund 

The Department of Health and Social Care has made £5 million available to support voluntary and community sector (VCS) mental health providers which are experiencing an increase in demand for their services due to coronavirus. Through the Coronavirus Mental Health Response Fund, small and large grants of between £5,000 and £50,000 are available to help increase mental support for people with and at risk of developing mental health problems.

Aviva Community Fund

Small charities and constituted community groups with innovative ideas that benefit their community can apply for funding of up to £50,000 for projects that build more connected, more resilient communities and give people the tools to become more financially independent. In response to the Covid-19 Aviva are temporarily opening up the Fund to projects that will ensure organisations can adapt or maintain critical services and infrastructure in response to the impacts of COVID-19. Projects must still relate to one of Aviva’s key funding areas. The closing date for this funding round is the 13th October 2020.

Comic Relief (UK)  Capacity Building Grants Scheme

Charities, voluntary and community organisations, social enterprises and CIC’s in England which have been negatively impacted by Covid-19 can apply for grants of up to £1,000 to help them rebuild their capacity to meet the needs of their local community. The funding is being made available through the Comic Relief’s Capacity Building Grants Scheme and will support projects within their four strategic themes and can be used for a wide range of activities, such as: training; increasing delivery capacity through additional volunteer recruitment; and developing strategies to help rebuild and move forward such as fundraising strategies, and developing new delivery plans. To be eligible, applicants will need to have an annual income of less than £250,000. Applications can be made at any time.

Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (UK) 

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has announced that cultural and heritage institutions, such as theatres, historic palaces, museums, galleries, live music venues and independent cinemas can now access a share of £1.57bn that has been made available to help with the impact of Coronavirus. The funding will consist of a mix of grants and low cost loans. The funding will include £120 million to restart construction work at cultural and heritage sites paused as a result of the pandemic. Decisions on awards will be made working alongside expert independent figures from the sector including the Arts Council England and other specialist bodies such as Historic England, National Lottery Heritage Fund and the British Film Institute.

The Foyle Foundation (UK) 

The Foyle Foundation has re-opened its Small Grants Scheme to support smaller, grass-roots and local charities across the UK during the Covid-19 crisis. Organisations which are currently delivering services to the young, vulnerable, elderly, disadvantaged or the general community either directly or through online support can apply for grants of between £1,000 and £10,000. Funding can be used to cover core costs or essential equipment, to enable ongoing service provision, homeworking, or delivery of online digital services for charities with a turnover of less than £150,000 per annum that can show financial stability and a clear need for their services. Competition for funding is expected to be strong. Applications can be submitted at any time.

Help Musicians (UK) Coronavirus Financial Hardship Fund

The £5million pound Coronavirus Financial Hardship fund has been created to alleviate some of the immediate financial pressures that many professional musicians are currently facing with regard to their mounting household expenses. Eligible musicians can apply for a one-off payment of £500 if they are suffering significant financial hardship.

Musician Union (UK) Coronavirus Hardship Fund 

In response to the widespread cancellation of work that has hit the profession as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Musician Union have set up a £1 million hardship fund that members with genuine and pressing hardship can apply to.  Grants of £200 are available.

Prince’s Trust and NatWest (UK)  The Prince’s Trust and NatWest Enterprise Relief Fund

The Prince’s Trust and NatWest have launched a £5million grant fund for young entrepreneurs affected by coronavirus. The Fund is available to entrepreneurs aged 18-30, who can apply for grants and tailored support from today. Grants can be used to maintain core business operations during the crisis, as well as meet any existing financial commitments, such as paying for essential equipment or settling invoices from suppliers. In conjunction with these grants, the initiative will also offer one-to-one support and guidance to applicants who need it.

7 Stars Foundation (UK) 

From July 2020, UK charities with a turnover of less than £1.5 million per year and who are working with at-risk young people affected by the covid-19 crisis will be able to apply for unrestricted grants of up to £2,500. The funding can be used for overheads, salary costs, and/ or wherever else the organisation needs to ensure its survival and sustainable services in the future. The funding is being made available through the 7Stars Foundation. To apply, applicants are encouraged to email the Foundation.

Social Investment Business (UK) Resilience and Recovery Loan Fund

The Resilience & Recovery Loan Fund (RRLF) is a new £25 million fund for social enterprises and charities who are experiencing disruption to their normal business model as a result of COVID-19. It has been established to make an existing government scheme (the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme more easily accessible to charities and social enterprises.  This fund is only for social sector organisations: charities and social enterprises.

Theatres Trust Theatre Reopening Fund

The UK Theatres Trust has announced that in response to the Coronavirus, they have repurposed the UK Theatres Small Grants Scheme (Theatre Reopening Fund) to support theatres to cover the additional costs of reopening after several months’ closure, including making adaptations for increased hygiene and social distancing measures. Through the scheme, grants of up to £5,000 are available to small Theatres across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The closing date for applications is noon on the 5th October 2020.

Sport England Active Together Programme 

Sport England has committed another £1 million to combating the impact of coronavirus by match funding money raised by sports clubs and community activity groups through the fundraising platform Crowdfunder. Through the ‘Active Together’ partnership with Crowdfunder Sport England are matching crowd funds of up to £10,000 raised by clubs and organisations hit by the coronavirus crisis. Clubs and organisations can sign up via the Crowdfunder website. They’ll then need to set their crowdfunding target and put in place incentives and rewards. Once 25% of the crowdfunding is met, Sport England will confirm the match funding – up to £10,000 – and can distribute the money within seven days of being raised.

Youth Music Network Emergency Funding

Youth Music have launched an Emergency Fund for music-making organisations affected by the coronavirus. Through this fund grants of up to £10,000 are available.  Priority will be given to people and organisations in the most immediate need.



Where's YOCI been?

It was a slightly quieter month for YOCI last month as our local venues prepared to open their doors once again! If you would you like YOCI to appear at one of your virtual or physical events send us an email on!

SG1’Radio’s ‘The One’ for Live Music in Stevenage

The sun shone over Stevenage on Sunday 13th September creating the perfect day for SG1 Radio to host its first ever Music Festival!  ‘The One’ Live Music Festival saw a range of local acts performing live from their Stevenage Media centre whilst being streamed to homes across the area.

Acts performed from a range of musical styles and then joined SG1 presenters Slava and Trev on the sofa afterwards for a chat. ‘Our local singers and musicians have had a long period during lockdown where they haven’t been able to perform live. It was wonderful to be able to provide a platform for them to do so again and chat with them about their future plans’.

Those tuning in caught performances from acts including:

Aimi P



Andrea Wilde

Connor Wells

Regine Garnier


Kelvin Davies with Gary Jones

Renu Chopra


Benny Guitar Smith 

The Refugees

Have a look at these wonderful images from the day:

Photo credit: Ann Tryssesoone

If you missed it, don’t panic!  Catch up on the day, as well as lots of other content from SG1 Radio in images and video via the Facebook page or listen back to the whole event on Mixcloud.

SG1 Radio is a vibrant internet radio station serving the local community and businesses within the SG postcode area whilst broadcasting worldwide.  Their schedule covers a variety of genres and shows appealing to a broad spectrum of listeners.  There’s loads of ways to listen – visit their website here.



My Handscraft


My HandScraft is an Erasmus+ funded project offering both migrant and local crafters the chance to come together, share existing talents and learn a new craft, all whilst picking up the skills to turn their creations into a small business.

The course, run by Community Action Dacorum, takes place over 7 sessions, and is delivered by experienced artists and tutors Tanya Ahmed, Matt Hatton and Bernadine Makin.  Crafts on offer include Macrame, calligraphy, introduction to watercolour painting, card making and upcycling fabrics.  Those with existing skills are encouraged to join the course – marketing and promotion is an essential part of the teaching – and participants will learn how to create an online presence, including a short video showcase, and how to sell their products online and face to face.    

Although COVID19 has interrupted face to face delivery of the course, content is being delivered online and plans are in place to return to in person delivery as long as social distancing regulations allow. 

MyHandScraft is part of the Erasmus+ funding programme and is being delivered in 5 European countries. Its aim is to help local communities find common ground using arts and crafts.  So far, the project has produced the State of the Art Research, trained tutors and held promotional events.   Outputs for the project include a digital guide for crafters and a handbook for tutors wanting to engage with the migrant community.  For more information about MyHandScraft classes and the project, please visit the MyHandScraft learning platform or follow the project on Facebook.

If you would like to take part in the local project, contact

Junction 7 Creatives

Stevenage – the first new town in the UK – is a place full of possibilities, a place where everyone’s creativity can thrive…

That’s the driving ethos behind Junction 7 Creatives – a brand new arts organisation in Stevenage that will spark, nurture and generate all kinds of new creative projects in the town.   

Gerry Strohm, Co-Director says:

“Junction 7 Creatives came about thanks to the vision and commitment of Stevenage Borough Council and their ambitious Cultural Strategy for the town. Junction 7 Creatives will act as nimble, dynamic and highly collaborative Creative Producers – working closely with artists, partners and our diverse community, to bring amazing new ideas to life in our town.”

Initial projects include the opening of a new premises at No. 17 Town Centre Square, which will offer a space for people to connect and explore their own creativity in various forms – from visual arts to poetry to dance.

If you have creative ideas and would like to be involved, Gerry, Marilyn and John would love to hear from you. Get in touch using the links below or email


H’Arts In Mind – Raising Awareness of Mental Health through Art

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the issues experienced by many of us in relation to our mental health.  Feelings of fear, worry and stress are normal responses to perceived or real threats, especially at times when we are faced with uncertainty and the unknown.  In addition to this are the significant changes to our daily lives as our movements are restricted and lives become more isolated. For many, arts and creativity can be an outlet, a way to connect to others and share our experiences. 

H’Arts In Mind are a Hertfordshire based mental health charity who use art as a vehicle to help those who suffer from mental health issues or who are marginalised from wider society.  

Their most recent project has offered those suffering with their mental health the chance to share their experiences of lockdown life and raise money to fund other projects at the same time.

The Lockdown Calendar features 12 images created by local artists across a range of mediums, reflecting their feelings, experiences and life from the last 6 months.   We’ve chosen a couple here but you can see all the finalists on the H’Arts In Mind website.

Copies of the calendar are available directly from H’Arts In Mind by emailing them at  Further details on price and how to pay are available from their website and all profits will be used to support mental health art projects.   If you’re in St Albans on Market Day, you can also purchase copies of the calendar at the Step Up market stall, where local people are able to sell their own work in a supportive environment.   

For more information about H’Arts In Mind including links to a range of free online arts for mindfulness sessions, visit their website or follow them on Facebook and twitter






Enrich Festival 2020

Herts Inclusive Theatre hosted their first online ‘Enrich’ festival which ran over the weekend of Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th September via Zoom and YouTube. The festival was a free weekend event which was held in Watford last year. It was created to give space and visibility to amateur and professional artists with learning disabilities, break down social barriers and challenge misconceptions. HIT believe that learning disabled artists make a vital contribution to the world we live in and that their work needs to be promoted, recognised, and valued. Using visual and performing arts, HIT hoped the event would provide an outlet for expression and an opportunity for the artists and the audience to engage in new activities and forge links with the wider community.

The weekend included showcasing the work of performing arts organisations who put artists with learning difficulties and disabilities front and centre, to display a variety of performances and workshops. Organisations involved included; Access All Areas, Graeae and Electric Umbrella. HIT also took part and hosted their very own comedy workshop and were so excited to have HYOC's very own mascot, YOCI to join them.

It was jam packed with a variety of performances and workshops all run by professionals, meaning there was definitely something for everyone!

HIT Website:




Herts Open Studios 2020

Herts Visual Arts Forum started some 30 years ago, supported by our County Council and others.  To encourage more access to artists/art, an initial suggestion to run Herts Open Studios has seen us go from strength to strength.  Over time publicity has changed from posters, printed leaflets and word of mouth through sumptuous/collectable annual brochures to this year’s predominantly on-line event. From initial county/arts council grants, how times have changed.

Today, Herts Visual Arts is a vibrant community embracing change. From largely manual records, our website now provides membership management and our showcase: members have their own gallery page, we share our events/ news from there too. Over 5-10 years, rapid changes in internet access and mobile technology have put our artists into every hand, home or business.

There are changes every year but arguably none more so than 2020. The tumultuous effects of COVID-19, including 23rd March hard lock-down up-ended our entire annual programme. Initial realisations that #HertsOpenStudios could not go ahead (as in previous years) was a shock that left us wondering whether we would have to cancel altogether. We moved through stages of grief, shock, denial, anger and more, until the day we began to see opportunities ahead.

Our strengths include community and a modern robust website (pooled with other Open Studios). Our members were all experiencing difficult times, so re-shaping Open Studios, harnessing Social Media and other technology to provide a focus. It became a to help everyone to update digital marketing skills while taking our art to the public in new, safe ways. From a blank sheet of paper, we started rebuilding the format.

Sharing what Virtual Open Studios might mean had mixed results. Some feel strongly that Open Studios is talking to real people, in person. Others were ready to embrace the change, developing new skills and connections along the way.  Every opinion is absolutely valid, but this year, the climate really didn’t allow an in-person event so our only choice was to make lemonade from 2020 lemons, and judging from feedback from our members, we’ve managed that pretty well. Our members have embraced new ways of working, produced outstanding videos, started social media accounts and posted their stories following daily themes.

30 days, 30 themes, 30 years became our story. Website updates have brought video and social media to the fore. We have a YouTube Channel, impressive increases in Facebook and Instagram followers. We bought in social media advertising expertise and it’s all paid off.  We delivered strong Open Studios event and safely, bringing it to our audiences 24 hours a day.

Years ago, when Herts Year of Culture was just an idea, we had no idea of how 2020 would be up-ended. Huge thanks to HYOC2020 for staying a strong presence, making rapid adjustments necessary to keep arts, culture alive/relevant when predominant concerns are personal safety.  We are very grateful for their daily challenge support, and their role in our 30 years celebration video (produced by Pearldrop). It tells our foundation story and shares how Herts Visual Arts and Open Studios remains relevant today.

We may be 30, but there’s life in us yet: opportunity and potential to remain pivotal not only for artists but also everyone who is curious about the arts.  It’s a story we can all join in with.


Friends & Family Competition

For ‘Friends and Family’ month in August, we asked residents to share what family means to them in no more than 500 words. The winning entry will be turned into a short animated film which will be published on to the community archive website, Herts Memories and become part of Hertfordshire’s local history record.  

We received lots of fantastic entries which were considered by a panel of judges including award winning scriptwriter and broadcaster Nicholas McInerny, who was born in Hertfordshire. 

The top 3 entries were:

  • Family by Ebonie  
  • Friends and Family by Kathy Dunnett
  • Welcome to the Family by Mike Lansdown 

It was difficult for the judges to choose between the top 3, with Mike Lansdown's "Welcome to the Family" being described as wonderfully ambitious with a truly panoramic reach, and Kathy Dunnett's "Friends and Family" as ‘heartfelt’  with a ‘particular resonance during the current time, when we’re separated from those we love’.

However, Ebonie Mather was chosen as the overall winner for her poem "Family" with Nicholas McInerny commenting:

"Family by Ebonie Mather appears to be a beautifully modest exploration of Family in all its aspects but hides a wonderful way with words that captures the truth. For example, 'Family is when you find space in someone's heart to call home'. This quiet confidence exudes throughout the poem as Ebonie moves - through each stanza - over universal ideas such as 'sacrifice' and 'history repeating'. It captures the complexity of family ties - 'holding your tongue', 'impatient, relentless' but finds in the simple act of cutting 'the crusts off' a wonderful image of domestic kindness. 

Ultimately family becomes the place from which we can grow to explore the world - 'the places you'll go; and the safety we need - 'family hold you tightly when the planets collide'. A worthy winner."

As the winner, Ebonie will now work with Pearldrop Video Productions to create an animated film based on her entry, whilst the runners-up entries will be added to Hertfordshire Archives' 'Herts Memories'.

You can read the three entries below:

Family by Ebonie Mather

Family is …
far away places.
You can taste...
the long journeys in sea salt,
pouring hard down our faces
in the tears we cry.
We embrace,
now we are safe.
Family is when you find space,
in someone’s heart to call home.

Family is England.
It’s the abandoned mines.
It’s the lapping docks,
the once ticking clocks,
in pulled down houses,
on streets now forgot.
It’s your dad’s wrinkled hands
From a time that’s now lost.

Family is sacrifice.
It’s what has to be done.
Family is breaking bread,
and butting heads.
Its your mothers’ mother tongue.
It’s your first bedroom,
and knowing who your parents where
when they were young.

Family is history repeating.
It’s trying to be different.
It’s not passing the trauma,
To your only daughter.
It’s accepting the past,
because she still laughs like somebody else,
that came before her.

Family is the water, that washes away
the trail of blood that didn’t stay.
It’s the choices you made,
the paths that you laid, all the people
you loved and the people that saved

Family is leaving behind,
but it’s never goodbye.
It’s the last lunch receipt in your purse
it’s the tear in your eye,
when you lay in the bed,
where you learned that she died.
It’s the person you are,
because you just happened
to be alive at the same time.

Family cuts the crusts off,
and can’t always remember what it’s like to be young.
It knows the oldest person sits in the front.
Family is holding your tongue

Family is impatient, relentless,
it's static and fluxx,
It’s burping and singing
and getting unstuck.

My family’s from dance halls,
and unions.
From resilience and pain.
From bar brawls,
and pub crawls.
It’s more than a name.

It’s more than semantics,
or the hereditary chin,
It’s the places you’ll go,
And the places you’ve been.

Family expands like the universe
and pulls back like the tide.
Family holds you tightly,
when the planets collide.

Friends and Family by Kathy Dunnett

Sitting here, working from home, looking out of a closed window,

Seeing gardens, rooftops, trees, my thoughts turn to my family.

Smile on my face, flickering images flashing through my mind.

Grandchildren first, children – grown up; siblings, pets, people passed on – a tear.

Warm and fuzzy feelings, comforting me, safe from Covid and all of its fearfulness.

Thoughts and memories keeping me safe from the possibilities, blocking the nightmares.

So many memories, so many laughs and lovings, sadness and regrets.

Wanting to turn back the clock and do it better, next time round.

But also, laughing, laughing until the tears run down my face and I cannot speak for joy.

The birth of a child, the birth of a grandchild.

Cats on facebook. Soppy dogs. Horses galloping.

Friends – at home – at work – banter, sadness – difficult now, but hopefully will return.

Looking in the mirror, the years have gone by. My mother looks back at me – ‘you are the mother and the grandmother now’.

Yes, and I love them all.

Welcome to the Family by Mike Lansdown

A distant cave
Support the roof.
Language before words
‘I was here’.

Black and ochre
Essence of the earth
From which we grow
And to which we will return.
Figures stalk the walls
Antecedent and ancestral
My tribe
My family.

Oil upon canvas
Layer upon layer
Generations thick.
Collars and countenances starched
Eyes set, fixed upon the distant days to come.
They stand sentinel and silent
Have oversight
Upon a spiral staircase
Leading to the stars.

Now, in sepia and white
They rise unsmiling
To float into our consciousness.
Nameless, ageless, long-gone
Details lost to a history
Unwritten and forgotten.
But they share my name
And I their genes.
Look carefully and you will see
A hint, or two:
The tilt of a chin, the shape of an ear, a nose that nobody would choose.
They stare across the years
Communicate their hopes, their dreams, their fears,
In words unspoken.
A silent echo.

Dog-eared and bent
The whole no bigger than your old pound note
The family presses
Crowds to stay within the frame.
And on the back:
A date - pencilled, smudged, incomplete
Location scribbled in a hurried hand
A name, or two, perhaps.
Clues that call or wave, tantalise and tease
A signpost toppled by the winds of time.
‘Old uncle Albert? Granny Jean?
It can’t be her, she’s far too lean.’

Colours bleeding at their edges.
‘Were skies ever green or lawns and hedges pink?’
Kodachrome and Polaroid made for brighter times.
Now, crank into motion…
That party,
That game of cricket on the beach,
That raising of a glass,
That determination to have some fun.
That probing lens
Flooded in the glare of a rare British sun.

One small step
A short walk
A world united
Hand in hand.
Lonely footprints in the sand
Silently proclaiming
‘We are here.’
A tank
A man
Who shows no fear.
We hold our breath
Our arms around his shoulders.
When two towers become none
Shockwaves pulse across the globe
And hope seems gone
We almost shut the family album.

And now
Sharp and true
The reddest red, the bluest blue.
We pose and pout
For friends we greet
And trust we’ll never meet.
Might not even like.
A dozen, a score, half a million
Maybe more.
A virtual worldwide family
Hyperspacial neighbours
Who live, freeze, die
And can enter your house
At the flick of a finger
At the click of a mouse.

More numerous than the stars
Or droplets in the oceans
A storm-surge of selfies
Of family, friends, strangers
Dead, alive
And yet to come
A tsunami, a mushroom cloud 
Threatening to block the sun.

A distant cave
Handprints on the roof.
A virtual handshake - suitably distanced
Invites you in.
‘We are still here.’
Welcome to the family.

Hertfordshire Year of Culture Museum Object of the Year

Hertfordshire Year of Culture 2020 supported this years Museum Object of the Year award. Over 1000 people voted in this year’s awards and nominations which included; a straw plaiting peg doll that demonstrates that working at home was the norm in much of the county in 1851, a placard from a recent Black Lives Matter protest in St Albans reminds us that the legacy of slavery is often closer than we think, and Theatrical Cream made in Letchworth that has been nominated to demonstrate solidarity with theatres across the county in these difficult times.

The awards are open to members of the Hertfordshire association of Museums, a dynamic and active network that supports all people who work for and volunteer in museums and heritage organisations in Hertfordshire.

The Natural History Museum Tring have won this years Hertfordshire Museum Object of the Year Award. The winning object was a Skye Terrier named Champion Wolverley Chummie from the NHM Dog collection!

NHM Tring said:

Dogs have provided comfort for many during lockdown. A selection of the collection went on display at Tring in 1968. The collection is unique because it reflects the efforts of 19th and 20th century dog breeders who developed many of the breeds we see today. It can be used to see how breeds are changing over time, a unique record of the biological diversity of dogs.

Many of the dogs at Tring have their own special history which reflects the story of the humans that cared for them. Champion Wolverley Chummie, a Skye Terrier, was born in 1899. According to the Illustrated Kennel News he was a ‘huge headed pup’ and his coat was considered ‘obstinate’, yet he went on to win 31 championship certificates and was considered a perfect example of the breed.

Mrs McCheane was devoted to her pet; she wrote to the museum in 1921, 11 years after he had been donated, asking whether he could be taken out of the display case for an artist friend to draw and so she could rearrange his coat as it was slightly disarranged.

To view all of the other weird and wonderful entries, click here!

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