As many people who read this blog know, bringing Classics into North-East communities is a goal that is close to my heart. Twenty years ago (almost to the day!) I was asked to teach an after-school Latin club in a local comprehensive school; and after that I never really looked back. One club turned into two, then three, then a regional hub; I found myself teaching in community centres, colleges, prisons and wherever else there were people who wanted to learn more about the ancient world. Over time, I settled at The Open University, teaching degree-level students who amaze me every day with their enthusiasm and commitment; but I always felt that I’d left something undone by moving away from community engagement.
Now, finally, I’m able to go back to where I started, with the help of some inspirational people. This week we’re launching a branch of the Classical Association, representing the communities of Hadrian’s Wall.
Our launch will be part of a bigger event on Saturday in Durham, celebrating lots of exciting developments in the North-East – and everyone is welcome to attend. But do book quickly, because the in-person event will have limited spaces! Booking can be done through Eventbrite, using this link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/classics-in-durham-and-the-north-east-new-initiatives-tickets-410367138157 …and there is an option for online attendance if you’d like to be involved but can’t make it to Durham in person.
Please do come along, if you can – and if you do, please come up to me and say hello! (You’ll probably find me lurking in a corner behind a plant, looking awkward.) Our website will be launched then too, so you’ll be able to see at a glance all the things that are going on, and sign up for official membership if you’d like to.
The Hadrian’s Wall Branch is currently being set up by me and by Justine T. Wolfenden from Durham University, with the help of our fabulous President, Professor Edith Hall. We intend to run a range of events, both in-person across the North-East and online, ranging from academic talks to family fun days. But by ourselves, all we can really do is create a place to start. We need other people to make this into a thriving organisation.
So this is my call for help – for people in the far North of England who might be able to pitch in when we have events, or who have a vision for what we should become. Do you have ideas on how to connect with other community groups? Do you know of venues where we could hold events? Could you help out at in-person events, or bake a cake, or run a book stall? Would you like a bigger role in the organisation? We need all of those and more! If you’d like to be involved, on any level, do drop me a line, either through the Contact form or at my OU email address (CoraBeth.Fraser@open.ac.uk – next week we’ll have a proper branch email address set up!).
This has been a long time in the planning. For a while I didn’t think it was going to happen; and even now, I don’t know how it will work out. But finally we have a place to start, and I can’t wait to see what comes next!
CA Branch Secretary, Treasurer, and Website Manager (too many hats right now!)