“The Search for Little Flanders - Developing a Digital Mindset”

“The Search for Little Flanders - Developing a Digital Mindset”

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Euryn Ogwen Williams and Graham Stephens with Pam Hunt and Heather Payton

Broadcast consultant, Euryn Ogwen Williams, chaired this year’s RTS Wales event, “The Search for Little Flanders”, at the Carmarthen Bay Film Festival, Llanelli, on May 16th.  As a patron of the Festival, he became interested in a Heritage Lottery funded restoration and digital content project, based around St Jerome’s Church in the village of Llangwm, south Pembrokeshire, which would have to close unless a £2K repair bill could be met.  It told the story of two effigies that lay in the north transept of the church, which proved to be connected to King Henry I’s expulsion of Flemings still living in England (who originally helped with the Norman conquest) to re-settle in south Pembrokeshire in 1100.

The project was led by Pam Hunt, a former RTS Wales committee member and BBC/independent producer, who retired to the area in 2006 after 40 years in the industry.  “After writing two books, my low boredom threshold dragged me into the renovation project” she explained.  Joining her on the panel were Graham Stephens, one of the presenters of a DVD documentary, produced as part of the project and former BBC editor and producer, Heather Payton, who recorded a series of English language podcasts (also translated into Welsh and Flemish).

In order to tell the story of the Flemish settlement in a small medieval church without the use of exhibition boards and touch screens, the project team commissioned a tapestry from children’s illustrator, Fran Evans, based on drawings by local school children, with six specific images that trigger different aspects of the story using an App.  The DVD, produced by Pam Hunt tells the story of the research, and includes material shot in Flanders.  “It’s proved very popular, and continues to sell well to visitors as well as further afield”, said Hunt.

As the author of a recent Review of S4C for the DCMS, one of Ogwen Williams’ recommendations was for the broadcaster to develop a digital content hub.  In his view, lessons could be learned from the Llangwm project, concluding that, “this is a perfect example of a community being digital, and using all aspects of digital technology to create and deliver its mission.”

 

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