Sharing Stories, Making Memories: Remembrance Event, 7th November 2020

To commemorate Remembrance Day 2020, children from Blackburn Children’s University took part in online craft making activities delivered by students from Blackburn University Centre’s School of Art and Society.

The event was introduced by Steve Irwin of Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery who talked about the importance of listening to the memories and stories of those who were children during the WWII.

This was followed by a Treasure Hunt, with the children solving clues to find household items that evacuee children would have taken with them to their foster homes. They also learned about the Dickin Medal awarded to brave animals in times of conflict and made medals and purple poppies for an animal of their choice.

In another activity, the children were invited to make the connection between the gas masks worn during WWII and the face masks we are required to wear during the pandemic, before designing their own unique face masks.

The children’s designs will be printed and made into face masks by Blackburn University Centre Fashion and Textiles undergraduates and sent back to the children via Blackburn Children’s University Manager, Sara Burton.

Following the event, Project Leads Sandra Nichol and Val Jessop said: “The items produced by the children were wonderful! They were thoughtful, creative and very imaginative.

“We were very impressed with their polite behaviour and the enthusiasm with which they asked and answered questions about WWII. Our students have worked very hard to plan these activities and this was a very enjoyable event.”

Sara Burton from Blackburn Children’s University said: “What a fantastic event! This was a little different to meeting face-to-face, however, the quality and content did not suffer at all.

“The planning before the event from the staff and students at Blackburn University Centre was second to none and the feedback from both parents and carers and children has been brilliant. The children did so much in the two hours and many continued with their designing after the event was finished. I cannot wait for the next one!”

Sharing Stories Poetry Slam – October 2020

To celebrate National Poetry Day on 1st October 2020, staff, students, alumni and children from Blackburn Children’s University were recorded reading poems in an online Poetry Slam.

The poems were on the theme of war and/or childhood and some poems were written specially for the occasion. They have been compiled in a commemorative booklet which you can read here.

Participants were joined by Janey Colbourne, who is a performance poet, freelance non-fiction writer and the curator of Rise! Spoken Word at The Bureau Centre for The Arts, Blackburn. For more information about Janey Colbourne’s work, you can email Janey herself at or contact her via social media:

Twitter @JaneyColbourne / Instagram @janeycolbournepoet

Special thanks to Steve Irwin from Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, retired staff member Jenny Billingsley and Mary Lee-Slade, former student of BA (Hons) English Language and Literary Studies. Thank you to the children of Blackburn Children’s University and to Sara Burton for organising the children’s recordings.

Many thanks to Liesl Burkhardt for producing the booklet and to everyone who took part in our virtual Poetry Slam. We hope you enjoy the readings!

Val and Sandra

Poetry Slam October 2020

Listen here to our alumni, Mary Lee-Slade, who is one of the co-founders of the Poetry Slam events at Blackburn University Centre. Mary talks about her undergraduate degree in English Language and Literary Studies, her progression to a higher degree at Lancaster University and her future career.