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9-year-old Lydia – Queen of the microphone

Posted onPosted on 19th Feb

A project aimed at encouraging people to get involved in the conservation of Mansfield town centre’s heritage has unearthed a radio star — aged just 9.

Lydia Kirk interviewed her grandad about his memories of the town centre – in particular the Queen’s Silver Jubilee visit in 1977 — and her recording of her work has been broadcast on the project’s website and local radio station Mansfield 103.2.

Encouraging people, including school pupils, to record oral histories of the town is part of the community engagement activities run by Mansfield Townscape Heritage Project.

The project is a five-year scheme, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, to restore the fabric of buildings in parts of the town centre — focused on Leeming Street and the Market Place conservation area — and get residents to take part in heritage conservation.

Just before Christmas some Asquith Primary School pupils attended an online oral history training session, organised by Corinna Brown, extended services coordinator for Asquith and Berry Hill primary schools, and led by outreach officer Helen Foster from East Midlands Oral History Archive.

The session introduced the Mansfield pupils to the principles and practice of gathering stories about life in living memory, showing them how to plan and conduct interviews.

Armed with their new skills, the young historians, including Lydia, went off for the Christmas holidays with a mission to mine their family memories for fascinating stories of Mansfield’s town centre past.

Lydia sat down with her grandad and asked him to share a memory of Mansfield. Their conversation took him back to 1977, when the Queen visited the town -­ a time of flared trousers, platform shoes and glam rock!

Lydia then went a step further and recorded herself reading the transcript of the interview

Her mum, Katrina, said: “The project has allowed Lydia to bring out her creative side and she really enjoyed recording herself and playing it back.

“It was lovely to see her chatting with my dad and sharing the news with him that other people enjoyed what they had managed to create together.”

To listen to Lydia go to

Mansfield Townscape Heritage Project is a Mansfield District Council-led scheme, also involving Mansfield BID, Vision West Nottinghamshire College and Nottinghamshire County Council.

It is offering grants of up 75% to enable property owners to carry out repairs in sympathy with their building’s heritage.

The scheme also involves conservation and restoration workshops, historical research, oral history gathering, writing and story-telling, street theatre and art and photography activities.

Last year the News Journal reported on an art competition involving youngsters painting their interpretation of the buildings.

Pete Brown, community participation co-ordinator for the project, said: “Shops are closing and people are feeling that the high street they used to know is not there anymore.

“It is reflected in the buildings, people see them deteriorating and it is depressing.

“The idea of the project is to firstly refurbish the buildings (in Leeming Street and the Market Place conservation area) through grants and also get the public involved in community participation.

“The plan before Covid came along was to do all kinds of creative activities with the public and get people involved in the heritage and learning about the town.

“Covid got in the way so we had to think of alternative solutions. One example is to encourage people to research the history of the buildings and add to each building’s biography on the website – telling stories about them.”

Anyone interested in taking part in the project can email or call Pete on 07811 693870.

For more information go to