At the start of last month I set up a small exhibition about the new Music Pavilion in the foyer of St. John’s, as a way to communicate the project’s progress, and make contact with those parents who I hadn’t met during the Christmas play performances. Over the past few weeks, a number of mothers and fathers have been in touch with varied and interesting proposals about how they might be involved with the project. The first parent to get in touch was Karina Thomas, a textiles designer who studied at the RCA and now teaches at Buckinghamshire New University in High Wycombe. She is particularly interested in the relationship between acoustics and textiles and happens to be the neighbour of Peter Symons – a father and acoustic engineer who I met back in December. Karina showed me around the textiles facilities at Bucks, and we discussed the possibility of setting up a design competition for her students at the start of the next academic year, as part of Phase 2 of the project (the enclosure of the Pavilion as an enclosed classroom). However, in the weeks since, she’s become interested in working on a design herself, which is a really exciting opportunity for collaboration!
At an evening design presentation at the school, I met Sam Laughton, a father and lawyer who runs the Speen Music Festival with his wife Kate in the neighbouring village, and Kay Pallister, a mother who works as a curator at the Gagosian Gallery in London. Soon after, I received an email from Ian Boll, a father who grew up in Lacey Green and also attended St. Johns. He now works for Buckinghamshire County Council and has lots of local contacts who may be able to support the project, including Michael Bryant from Country Supplies. Another mother, Sarah Bowen, got in touch to let me know about the Speen Shops Charity Committee which makes donations to local projects benefiting the Speen community; I went ahead with an application for funding and was delighted to have secured £500 towards construction. Almost all the other costs have been covered through generous in-kind donations from a range of companies including Blanchford Building Supplies in Princes Risborough, a partnership set up with the kind help of Ruth Fenton. However, we still need some cash flow to cover unanticipated construction costs during the build – so this additional money is an enormous help and greatly appreciated.
Last week Guan and I invited a number of parents who had expressed an interest in the Farm to have a look around and discuss the project – everyone seems to have heard about Grysmdyke but aren’t quite sure what it does! We were joined by Karina and Peter, Kate Laughton, Sarah-Jayne Ebdon, a mother and community organiser, another mother Louise Brooks Usher, as well as the local vicar and Trustee of the school, Rev. Tony Bundock. It was a really nice opportunity to explain the set-up at the Farm and talk about how people can become involved. One of the ways the parents are going to help is by setting up a cooking rota for lunches during the Visiting School, which will be an enormous help for us and also a great way for the participants to interact with the local community. I hope to meet more parents over the coming weeks, and am really looking forward to working closely with Karine and Peter on the design of the interior space, after the construction of Phase 1 is complete.