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Lincoln children star in local BBC wartime production

On the 100 anniversary of the start of World War One, school children from Lincoln’s Monks Abbey Primary School are gearing up for two very special performances.

The drama project Leaving Home is being produced by the BBC and the University of Lincoln School of Performing Arts.

The production aims to honour the Beechey family and their loss, but also encourage audiences to consider the impact of leaving home to go to war and the effect that has on those left behind.

It will consist of three different events focused on telling the story of the Beechey family, who lived in Lincoln during World War I.

Amy Beechey’s eight sons all enlisted into the army, with five dying in the service of their country and one returning home severely disabled.

The only other family known to have lost as many sons is the Souls family from Gloucestershire, and the publicity their story gained encouraged Josephine Warren, granddaughter of Amy Beechey, to share her own family’s history.

The letters written by the brothers and sent home to their mother are now on display in the Museum of Lincolnshire Life.

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A radio drama is currently being produced as part of the project, with two students from Monks Abbey Primary School, Bea Hutchinson and Chris Flemming, being cast as two of the Beechey children.

The production will be recorded in Boston and Louth on July 14 and July 17, with tickets available to watch it being recorded. It will then be broadcast in several episodes on BBC Radio Lincolnshire from July 28.

BBC Radio Lincolnshire’s Managing Editor, Charlie Partridge, said: “The story of the Beechey boys reminds us of the unimaginable suffering endured by the war generation, and is a fitting focus for our First World War Centenary commemorations here in Lincolnshire.”

Three other children from the school, Mollie-Mae Plum, Emma Lavin and Joshua Lavin, along with Bea and Chris, have also been background cast in a live production at the Arboretum in Lincoln that will focus on the story of Amy Beechey and her sons.

The performance will be accompanied by the Royal Anglian Regimental Band along with the RAF College Cranwell Military Wives Choir and a piper from the Scunthorpe and District Pipe Band.

There will be two performances on July 26 at 4pm and 7pm; the running time being one hour. It will also be broadcast live on BBC Radio Lincolnshire for those unable to attend.

On August 4 there will be a different performance in the village of Friesthorpe, where the brothers’ father was a vicar for many years before becoming ill with cancer and the family subsequently moving to Avondale Street, Lincoln.

The performance will be by students and professional actors who will lead the audience around the village and church, where there is a plaque dedicated to the brothers, once again accompanied by the Royal Anglian Regimental Band and the RAF College Cranwell Military Wives Choir.

‘Leaving Home’ Executive Director and Senior Lecturer at the University of Lincoln School of Performing Arts, Conan Lawrence, said: “Staging the Beechey family’s profound experience of conflict has been humbling, and it’s an honour to work with so many partners and performers to bring their story to life.

“The three strands of ‘Leaving Home’ showcase our collective creativity in commemorating a local story of national significance.”

The commemoration will form part of the county’s WWI Centenary events and the BBC’s WWI season.

Tickets to all events are free. Booking details:

  • July 26 – The Arboretum, Lincoln: lpac.co.uk or 01522 837600.
  • July 14 – Blackfriars Arts Studio, Boston: blackfriarsartscentre.co.uk or 01205 363108
  • July 17 – Riverhead Theatre, Louth: louthplaygoers.com or 01507 600350.