Youth Team Henry Beaufort Project

Through a long-term relationship between Winchester Rotary and Henry Beaufort School, Rotarian Maggie Hastie, Youth Team Leader, was approached to work with a group of 10 children, aged 11 to 12 years, who it was felt would benefit from the experiences offered through outdoor activities.

The aim was to open their eyes and minds to the wonderful opportunities that exist beyond their classroom; to give them communication skills, increase their confidence, to learn to work together as a team, while learning a new skill. 

This new skill, led by Rotarian Steve Feeney, a professional videographer, was to create on their tablets, in 4 groups, a 4 minute film entitled “A Career in The Forces”.  The title  choice was the result of a visit to Winchester Rotary by Honorary Member, Brigadier Mike Caldicott, who offered the unmatchable staff and facilities of Worthy Down, Winchester. a tri-service training and education establishment.  This was an undreamed of opportunity for the children, Winchester Rotary Youth team and Henry Beaufort School.

The project would run for one day a week for 4 weeks. The children to be divided into 4 groups.  On the morning of the last day each group would edit their 55 second film which Steve would later combine and caption to produce the finished product which was to be shown at the Celebration Assembly at Henry Beaufort School.

On the first day at Henry Beaufort we were warmly welcomed by science teacher, Becky Naylor-Teece, Aspirations Coordinator, who was looking after the children during the project. This was an informal “getting to know you” session. They were quiet, not knowing what we were like or what to expect from us – we were all in it together.

Introducing ourselves by Christian name we recounted an amusing incident in our life. In return the children did likewise. We each sat with a group encouraging them to tell us about their family, pets, interests, likes and dislikes.

Steve talked to the children about film making, camera craft, interviewing techniques, script writing, together with the basics of editing; a challenge for the young ones as well as us older ones!

The following week, everyone was more relaxed and very excited as we were going to Worthy Down. We were welcomed by Garrison Sergeant Major Lee Welden and Nicky Day, Worthy Down Support Unit. It was evident that the children were very impressed and a little in awe of the tall, inspiring Sergeant Major – his instant rapport with his young audience was a masterclass in communication – commanding their attention and respect. The highlight of his introduction was revealing the secrets of his long stick, opening it up to show the tips could be set at fixed distances – it can be used as a pace stick to ensure soldiers on parade all march at the same pace. For a moment we thought we might find ourselves out on parade marching in unison with his pace stick!

Today was “Exploration Worthy Down Day” – the children would visit a number of workshops and training hubs and at the end of the day choose one to do interviews and film as part of their contribution to the final film they were going to make. 

A visit to the assault course, which fortunately none of us or the children were invited to attempt, proved very popular, especially as we watched a demonstration by a very fit young soldier.

Next came the gym – the staff engaged immediately with the children who were given a practical problem to solve. 

A visit to the tailoring school was huge fun. Adult students from the army, navy and air force are taught how to repair and make all three services uniforms, from scratch.  The children tried on many jackets, busbies, caps and hats – laughing all the while.

Visits were made to the Food  Services Training Wing where all the fabulous catering comes from.  This was followed by the Defence School of Logistics, the source of the services huge supply chain. One of the children ordered a special part which was computer logged and for which she received an order confirmation – we haven’t found out yet whether or not she has received her item!  The fuel supply and testing hub was also on the agenda. The purity and suitability of the many different types of fuel is critical – lorry and aeroplane fuel don’t mix!

At the end of the day – a touch of genius by Sergeant Major Stokes – the whole class was promoted to the rank of Corporal, complete with lanyards.  They were hooked and couldn’t wait for the following week’s adventures at Worthy down. This quiet, reticent group were now chatting with us and among themselves.

Day 3  – time for interviewing and filming.  Each group had decided at the end of week  2 which area they were going to film and who they were going to interview.  The final 4 minute film would reflect the nationally renowned training, support and opportunities offered by Worthy Down.

Sadly, our final day arrived all too soon.  A morning at Henry Beaufort, refining and finalising each of our group’s filming. Edits must be covered up and backgrounds f low harmoniously. Today the vibrant rapport and communication between each group was heartwarming.

Rotarian Ian White introduced a game to enhance our young students communication and listening skills. A lesson for us all. Working in pairs, one had to describe to the other, from memory,  a diagram comprising a circle, square and triangle. The listener, who was not permitted to see the diagram or ask questions, had to accurately reproduce the diagram. Some of the children did very well.

A surprise lunch, courtesy of Worthy Down, concluded our Winchester Rotary/Henry Beaufort/Worthy Down project – a unique experience, new friendships,  new horizons for all involved.

As Steve Feeney said, 

‘I thought, in view of the young age of the children, the skill challenge of the film making would be too much for them. How completely wrong I was.’


Diana Brooks

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