Chesterfield: Courage of Conscience

With £9,900 funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and supported by the Derbyshire Through the First World War project, the group Propeace Chesterfield put together their project Courage of Conscience which discovered and celebrated the stories of Derbyshire conscientious objectors, other resisters to the war and their families.

Gertie Whitfield was commissioned to use the research material to work with children in primary and secondary schools.  She developed teaching packs based on the research, teaching history through drama.  The packs were piloted in local primary and secondary schools with lots of positive feedback and after a teacher training event ran by Gertie the packs were then used in Derbyshire schools.

Local writer, and former Derbyshire poet laureate River Wolton was commissioned to work with her young writers group to creatively use research about conscientious objectors to write stories, poems and other short pieces. They then produced the book ‘Courage of Conscience: imagined voices of Derbyshire’s WW1 conscientious objectors’.

An exhibition using the project’s research went on tour around libraries, schools and community venues until 2018.  The project culminated in an event at Chesterfield Donut Creative Arts Centre, where the exhibition was on display and over 100 people attended an evening of performances, readings, music and speakers.

The teaching packs, book and exhibition are all available on the project’s website.