The National Lottery Heritage Fund
The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded local charity Somerset Film and Video Ltd funds of £37,644 to help them deliver a community archive film project called ‘A Village Apart, Villages Together’. The project takes its name from the book written by the late C. S. John Sparkes “Gie I Burtle – A Village Apart” published in 2001. John was an enthusiastic chronicler of life in Burtle and the surrounding Chilton Polden area from the seventies onwards through photography and 8mm film. His 300 plus collection of films was entrusted to Bridgwater-based Somerset Film by his wife Valerie, with the intention of finding a way to share it with the public. Now, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the Bridgwater-based organisation will work with the community to catalogue, digitise and celebrate the work of C. S, John Sparkes.
Creative Director Deb Richardson said, “John was passionate about the countryside, wildlife and where he lived and worked. He was an active contributor to village life and was much loved by his local community. His films first came to our attention when he donated a film he had made documenting local workers in the Peat Industry. We’re delighted to be looking after his collection and hope to find some similar treasures to share with the public.”
The project will take a year to complete and Somerset Film are keen to hear from anyone who would like to get involved. Volunteers can help catalogue and digitise the films. Sessions will be held in Burtle and at the Engine Room, Bridgwater, the community media centre run by the charity.
Public archive film screenings will be held to share the progress made and the hope is that audiences will be able to help identify the individuals, events and places shown. A dedicated YouTube channel and website will mean that the films and information can be seen widely.
There will also be activities for young people to inspire future chroniclers of local life, during which they can learn more about archive film and gain digital filmmaking skills.
To find out more you can subscribe to Somerset Film’s e-bulletin via their website or follow them on social media via Instagram, Facebook or X.