During this project, the children have been inspired by older people’s childhood memories of WW2 and fascinating stories from when Milnthorpe welcomed evacuees. One older gentleman told the story of his time as an evacuee in Milnthorpe. He remembered as a boy arriving in the village from the North East with his younger brother and sister, carrying their belongings not in suitcases but pillowcases. Parents could visit the children at the weekend and one Sunday the children’s mother arrived on the coach to see them. After spending precious time together, the mother got back on the coach home leaving the children to wave as she went. But as the coach began to leave, the youngest child, the boy’s little brother, suddenly jumped on the coach to go home with his mother, leaving the boy and his sister in Milnthorpe without their sibling. One of this gentleman’s strongest memories of WW2 was travelling home from Milnthorpe with his sister with three pillowcases rather than two – his, his sister’s and his little brother’s.
Inspired by this story, the children based in Year 3 at Milnthorpe Primary School considered what they would put in a pillowcase if they were going on an adventure. From ‘practical’ suggestions of toothbrushes, food and clothes to “what if you can take anything – no rules” ideas such as football pitches, statues and chocolate fountains, the children drew all their different items then selected their favourite five. Children based in Year 4 had been very lucky to meet the local Craft Group in Milnthorpe earlier in the project and through sharing skills across the generations from tatting to loombands, the school built links with Craft Group members. These talented older residents have come into school along with other skilled community members to help the children develop their sewing skills.
The children and older volunteers have also enjoyed a visit from KWoA textile artist Priscilla Jones who amazed everyone will her delicately coloured and intricately detailed mixed media and textile work. Working with their older neighbours, the children have created stunning appliqued pillowcase artworks which show the different items that the children would choose to take on an adventure. The pillowcases were then displayed throughout St Thomas's Church in Milnthorpe for the wider community to enjoy. Every pillowcase tells a story, and connects us back to the ‘pillowcase children’ who arrived in Milnthorpe back in WW2.