As part of the club’s ongoing engagement with the local community, we have worked with our Community School of the Season, Totternhoe Lower School and Dunstable Library to create a unique football and history project workshop. Carly Levingstone, Area Manager South Leisure, Libraries and Countryside for Central Bedfordshire Council alongside Pam Stibbings, one of the librarians at Dunstable Library have created a half-day workshop which was piloted with the Totternhoe pupils. The workshop is multi-faceted and engages pupils in researching the football and social history of Dunstable. The workshop starts off with a tour of the library followed by a talk about how the library operates, with the pupils learning that there are 13,000 books just in the children’s section alone.
The pupils were then split into two groups, one group learnt more about Dunstable during the Roman times, whilst the other group researched the history of the football club, then the two groups swapped over. Inevitably, the children asked “…what have the Romans ever done for us?!!”.
When researching the football club, the Totternhoe pupils learnt how to use a microfiche machine and also were given the opportunity to search through the Library’s extensive and significant collection of local paper, the Dunstable Gazette. The pupils were set the task of looking through newspapers from the 1970s to find out how people lived back then and about the fortunes of the club.
1974 was obviously a big year for the club when a moustachioed Barry Fry was the manager and legendary George Best guested for the club. The signing of George Best made front-page news. The children read the match reports and began to understand the magnitude of what it meant for a global football star to play for a non-league team.
The pupils then found an article on a certain Bridget Calvert’s wedding. They were fascinated that a wedding would be featured in a local paper and were amazed to be told that she used to work at the school! They studied the layout of the newspaper which is much changed in relation to current newspapers and were intrigued to find adverts for the milliner trade, laughed at the thought of twin-tub washing machines, whilst the house prices of the day made the adults reminisce of more sensible times.
The children were then read a story by Pam, provided with snacks and drinks and were given a photocopy of the matchday programme when Dunstable Town played the mighty Manchester United as a souvenir of their visit.
Debbie Mitchelmore, Assistant Headteacher at the school, who accompanied the children stated:
“The children were fascinated with the newspapers and historical aspects of the social history of Dunstable as well as the team. The children were made aware of the fantastic resources and significance of their local library”.
Carly Levingstone commented:
“It’s been a fantastic opportunity for the children to get to know Dunstable Library. They enjoyed reading and researching using the resources available in the Library”.
Carly went on to state:
“It has been a great educational experience for both the staff and the children. The staff have embraced and enjoyed the challenge of finding Dunstable Town FC related artefacts from the Library’s resources, such as newspaper articles, matchday programmes and books”.
Carly and her team look forward to more local schoolchildren coming along to experience the workshop. The club will assist in this endeavour by promoting this great learning experience with the schools it works with during the 2017-2018 season.