P5 Pupils from Glaitness School have teamed up with ‘weel-kent’ local illustrator, Britt Harcus to launch a new book exploring the unique history and heritage of Kirkwall – through the eyes of an inquisitive curlew.
Aimed at developing children’s appreciation of the history of Kirkwall, the book touches on Kirkwall’s most-loved buildings and landmarks as readers follow the adventures of ‘Erlend the Curlew’ through Orkney’s biggest town.
Easy-to-use postcard-style inserts provide more detail on places of historic interest throughout the story and can be used to form the basis of a walking tour of the town, following Erlend’s route.
The book was launched on Thursday (May 3) at the Orkney Library and Archive. Proceeds from sales of the book will go to the Orkney Charitable Trust – well known for its annual ‘Every Child Deserves a Christmas’ campaign.
The class have spent the last seven months researching and developing the book, with the help local experts including visits to the Orkney Museum, tours of Kirkwall with Britt Harcus, and talks with UHI Archaeology Institute’s Lifelong Learning and Outreach Archaeologist, Dan Lee.
The book is being funded by the Kirkwall THI, a project led by Orkney Islands Council – financed by Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland and the Council - aimed at enhancing the centre of Kirkwall.
Britt Harcus says the P5 class at Glaitness have been great to work with: “They’ve learnt a lot since we began the project back in November - tour guiding, note taking, story writing, book illustration, character development and finally book design and the editing process.
“I think they should be very proud of their efforts and hope the book sells well for their chosen charity. Thanks to our funders for making this happen.”
Class teacher, Inga Falconer, said: “This project has been an invaluable and unique opportunity for the children to gain a deeper understanding of their local history. They’ve taken ownership in each stage of the process and exhibited a clear sense of what they are trying to achieve.
“It’s allowed them to work closely with a local artist who has shared her knowledge of the story writing process, and the book launch itself has given the children a real sense of achievement.
“Further to this, they have had the opportunity to develop their awareness of a local charity and how they support individuals within Orkney. The children have enjoyed this aspect and through the sale of the book are making their own much valued contribution to the community.”
Secretary of Orkney Charitable Trust, Lynne Spence said: “This is a great idea, and a really fantastic book that Glaitness P5 have developed, my kids love it!
“There are a host of charities doing great work in Orkney. We are delighted that the pupils chose to support Orkney Charitable Trust through their book sales, and we will be using all the funds to directly help young people in our community”.
The children have also been helping out with ‘Kirkwall Story’ - another Kirkwall THI project which is developing signage and interpretation in the town. Working with the Kirkwall Story project team, the children have been providing input on a dedicated children’s heritage trail through the town.
Andy Golightly, Project Officer for the Kirkwall THI, said; “One of the specific aims of the KTHI is to increase children’s knowledge of their local history. With the idea of a book written by children for other children, Miss Falconer and Britt have come up with a project that both brings Kirkwall’s heritage alive for pupils involved in the project and will help spread that awareness and appreciation long after the Kirkwall THI has ended.”
Copies of the book are available from the Blue Door, William Shearers and the Orcadian Bookshop in Kirkwall, and Sheila Fleets ‘Kirk Gallery and Café’ in Tankerness.