It's evacuation time as Coventry kids experience life in the Blitz.
"When the bombing was happening I felt like I was there," explained Sonia who a few months ago went back in time to discover life in Coventry as it was during the Second World War.
With a little help from a local theatre group and the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum 11-year-old Sonia, her friend Natasha, 10, and their schoolmates spent a week immersed in the Blitz. They were evacuated, confronted by a German pilot and sheltered from falling bombs.
On June 15 2005 with bombs and billeting a distant memory, the girls lined up at a ceremony in London alongside counterparts from Leeds, Nottingham, Hackney, Manchester, Co Durham and the Scottish Borders to receive a Roots & Wings Award.
The Roots & Wings winners get congratulated by Diane Abbott MP, Loyd Grossman and Culture Minister David Lammy. © 24 Hour Museum.
Now in their second year the awards are organised by Curiosity & Imagination, the national network for hands-on learning, and celebrate projects which engage children with heritage of all kinds.
According to Alison Coles, Curiosity & Imagination manager, the awards were "borne from the belief that learning about heritage has the potential to make a real difference to children’s lives."
The seven winners were selected by a panel of judges, including representatives from the Government, the press and heritage bodies and take in a diverse range of themes and methods.
As well as the Herbert’s Kids in the Blitz, the winners included a rap project exploring the emotional lives of servants at Harewood House in Leeds and a scheme to create homes for imaginary creatures in Scottish woodland.
For broadcaster and 24 HM Chairman, Loyd Grossman: "really wonderful things happen when people are brought into contact with the reality of the past." © 24 Hour Museum.
Signs and Symbols, another of the winning projects, saw pupils from local schools work with staff at the Whitworth Art Gallery and Manchester Museum to create animated films based on African artefacts. While in the North East, teenagers used prehistoric rock art from the Museum of Antiquities to inspire their own works.
A group of young black children from Nottingham got the nod for producing seven short films about their heritage in relation to the city. The films were screened at a local cinema in front of a sold out auditorium.
The Our Stories project at a school in Hackney, east London saw pupils use an exhibition about Caribbean immigrants as the inspiration to create keepsake boxes representing their identities and heritage.
International rock art expert Stan Beckensall compares Hannah's work to its ancient inspiration. © North News and Pictures.
On hand to dish out the awards, the new Culture Minister, David Lammy, spoke about the sense of inspiration he felt from the participants.
"I found that in Nottingham there were young people inspired by the work of Horace Ove and that sense of living history, inspired to say I think I can be a film maker," he said. "I found that in County Durham the inspiration of what we were doing in 100 BC could potentially inspire the young guy I was speaking to, to get interested in archaeology."
David Lammy, the new Culture Minister described the inspiration he felt children were finding in heritage. © 24 Hour Museum.
Joining him, Diane Abbott - MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington - was particularly impressed by the occasion: "It shows the amazing creativity and the talent that there is amongst our schoolchildren," she said.
Despite his shame at appearing in the short film about each project that was broadcast to the entire room, eight year-old Andrew from Hackney, "felt really happy" when he found out the Our Stories project was a winner. The best thing about it, however, was "missing school."
He was certainly proud of his work: "I made a shoebox out of my memories," he told the 24 Hour Museum. Which, as he explained, is now in safekeeping at his "nan’s house."
Eight year-old Andrew from Hackney hides in shame as the gathered audience delights at his on-screen demonstration of his keepsake box. © 24 Hour Museum.
Andrew’s mum, a Learning Mentor at his school, explained the significant role the past can play in the classroom: "With a lot of the children I work with" she said, "history is the way to get to them."
Her words were echoed by the Culture Minister, who explained that by looking back children can find a sense of who they are and where they’re going.
"There’s a big debate," he said, "it’s been going on in Britain for the last decade or so, it’s about what it means to be British." Roots & Wings, he added, has made him believe that "there’s a generation of young people coming up that are going to answer that question."
The Culture Minister pauses to acknowledge one of his newest fans. © 24 Hour Museum.
He continued: "They are going to develop the confidence, they are going to be inspired to take their place and provide us with the answer to that central question, because what this is about, and what I’m keen to deepen as the new Culture Minister, is discovery. Discovery in all its forms, discovery about the self, your environment, the relationship with the past and the future, with your parents and with your friends."
Moreover, he added, the winning projects show that decisions to put funding into heritage, museums and galleries are paying off.
"It’s really wonderful to hear that some of it is actually bearing fruit on the ground and there are wonderful projects that are actually inspiring young people."