Celebration of the Sea: Day 4

Thursday afternoon saw the final visit of writer Dean Parkin to Coppice Court, a supported housing scheme for young families. Over three days, Dean worked with around 15 adults from the area to develop their own poems about the beach, a sea battle, and what it’s like living in Lowestoft today. While many of the participants had never written poems or short stories before, many participants expressed an interest in continuing writing after learning a few techniques from the professional.

day 4 cots image

One participant said: “I’ve been wanting to write a sitcom for years, and speaking to Dean and learning the techniques of just writing words down and not necessarily needing a specific place to start or finish was great, because that’s always the hardest thing – not knowing where to start.”

Another participant marvelled at how getting simple words down on paper allowed the group to mould and shape them into meaningful poems. “At first, I didn’t really think I was into writing, but after the workshops, I think I’d like to continue because it was just great.”

Coppice Court is one of the community groups that will contribute poems to the Celebration of the Sea performances on Friday 3 July, featuring local residents and professional musicians from the RPO performing new pieces of music and word, all about Lowestoft.

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Celebration of the Sea: Participant reflection

At the end of a whirlwind week, Mitch, a music participant, reflects on what he will take away from Celebration of the Sea:

This week, as part of the Celebration of the Sea project, I have been learning and playing bass guitar. Before this project, I’d only ever picked up a bass guitar once and now in the space of 5 days, I know most of the chords. I’ve really enjoyed this project as it has not only enabled me to start on the road of learning to play an instrument, but also to unlock a passion for music that I never knew I had.


As part of the project, we composed our own piece of music from scratch, we did this by literally picking numbers from 1-4. This was then the tempo for the piece. We then made a tune by putting different chords where the numbers were. At the end of the week, we performed our set pieces twice. Once on the Mincarlo, a trawler, and the second performance outside the Marina Theatre.


Performing aboard the Mincarlo

I’ve loved this project. It has enabled me to meet new people and characters from all walks of life. At the beginning of the week, nobody knew each other and now we all get on like a house on fire! I’m going to miss this project now it’s over, but hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to do something like this again. Also, from this project, I’ve decided that I’m going to continue playing bass guitar. With a load of practice and some luck, I’ll be able to audition for the RPO in about 5 years time.

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Celebration of the Sea: Day 3

Workshops on Wednesday allowed the music and writing groups and artists to continue creating and revising their pieces.

Local resident and music participant Delia gives us an update on her group’s progress:

“I arrived on Monday really unsure about what to expect, but I knew that even if I had to make the tea, I wasn’t going to miss this chance of a lifetime.

“I sing in a choir normally and we sing for our health and joy, but I’ve never done any creative composition like this before, and it’s absolute magic. We’re putting together songs by writing words, creating sentences and trying to find the best melodies to present our messages. We’re working on three quite nice pieces; one is about the battle of the sea, one is about Lowestoft harbour and a fisherman, and the last one is about the lifeboatmen working to save lives.

“There’s a lot of history behind the pieces that people may not know or have heard before, so this is a chance for us to share the history with them. I’m absolutely looking forward to performing them on Friday.”

After only one more day of workshops to practise these pieces on Thursday, these original songs, along with poems written by the creative writing groups, will be performed in two performances on Friday: at 1.00pm aboard the Mincarlo Trawler and at 6.45pm outside the Marina Theatre, ahead of the RPO’s sea-themed concert.

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Celebration of the Sea: Day 2

On Tuesday morning, creative writer Dean Parkin visited the 60+ Club in downtown Lowestoft to chat with members about the area’s sea heritage and to receive their help devising a short poem about their memories. To get people talking, we brought along two reminiscence boxes featuring objects from the Lowestoft Maritime Museum, such as old photographs of skippers, knitting needles and fishing nets of various sizes and heavy duty raincoats, amongst others.

Most of the people in attendance had fathers or older siblings who worked in the fishing industry years ago, so we heard many expert accounts of what each of the tools in the box were used for and even watched demonstrations of how to tie various fishing knots!

After speaking to individuals and small groups to hear about their memories of Lowestoft’s fishing heyday, Dean asked the whole group to help him write a poem all at once. There was a bit of enthusiastic chaos, with people shouting out words and ideas, but by putting together phrases and snippets of memories from all the participants, a poem slowly emerged, called That’s What the Sea Is.

After a rousing group performance, it was time for lunch.

This poem, and other poems written by other local groups, will be incorporated into the music and word performances on Friday aboard the Mincarlo and outside the Marina Theatre.

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Celebration of the Sea: Day 1

Monday was a busy day for the Celebration of the Sea group with special access visits to two local heritage sites and a brainstorming session bringing together participants from a variety of backgrounds for the first time to explore Lowestoft’s relationship with the sea.

Creative writing participant and local resident Anne, had the following to say about the day:

“I was thrilled to receive an open invitation to write and do music with the finest people around, organised by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. I have had an amazing day with these people visiting the Mincarlo Trawler and learning about life at sea. After the Trawler, we visited the Lowestoft Maritime Museum where I found pictures of the Telesia LT1155, the old boat my Grandad sailed on, as well as images of the Spithead Review of ships in 1935 featuring King George V and Skipper Moxey. And to top it off we had a trip down memory lane riding around town on a double decker bus from the Lowestoft Transport Museum.

Anne Trawler enjoying the workshop, learning about life at sea.

Anne Trawler enjoying the workshop, learning about life at sea.

“I’m enjoying the writing side with Dean Parkin, our local professional writer and poet. He has already taught me so much, and the music team’s involvement is amazing; they are teaching us to put a piece of music together, right from scratch. They’re lovely people to work with.

Working on the group's piece of music.

Working on the group’s piece of music.

“I will certainly enjoy the next four days of creative work and am so looking forward to the final outcome of our music performance. It’s very, very interesting. If you ever have a chance to do this, you must!”

Beginning Tuesday morning, participants will continue to work alongside the professional musicians and writer to devise their own music and words about the sea and what it means, and has meant to Lowestoft. In addition to our main core of local participants, words and memories are being gathered from older Lowestoft residents at the 60+ club and residents of Flagship’s Coppice Court, giving a wide range of perspectives about Lowestoft’s shore.

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