Pupils of 14 primary schools were involved in this project that brought history to life through real learning, involvement, research and fun. The Cambridgeshire Roots project was developed to introduce young people, their families and communities, to rural customs of Cambridgeshire – through Molly Dancing – to conserve local customs. Pupils also learnt about West African customs, dance and art; Indian seasonal dance; and Polish dance – particularly those aspects associated with the agricultural year such as ploughing and harvest.
Through the creative process, the young people learnt about the traditions that inspired each of the dances, combining local history and stories, many of them based on the agricultural traditions before the First World War.
1,500 youngsters from Cambridgeshire primary schools celebrated the end of a massive dance and traditions project with a festival in the grounds of St Andrew’s Primary School, Soham. This was officially opened by Cllr John Powley, and Roy Swanston of the Heritage Lottery Fund joined in the dance and procession, which involved over 500 Molly Dancers dancing together in one place – more than ever before! In his speech afterwards, Roy called this Living History in the making.
A film crew from BBC Look East arrived early and stayed for most of the day, featuring the Festival on the lunchtime and evening news.
The project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Cambridgeshire County Council, and a contribution from the schools themselves.