Beautiful scenery, my campervan, a fringe theatre trip …. That’ll be in my free time, right?
No! This was all in the name of work … a super cool, and rather unlikely, 24h road trip in support of my Save the Children Centenary assignment.
Dial back to my first week at SCI, Jack (my NGO supervisor) asked if anyone wanted to go and see ‘Eglantyne’ a one-woman play by Anne Chamberlain (Eglantyne Jebb founded the Save the Children movement in 1919). The show, written and performed by Anne (a previous employee of Save the Children New Zealand), is playing at fringe theatre festivals in Buxton, Derbyshire and Edinburgh, Scotland this summer.
‘Yes, of course!’ was my resounding answer. It’s a bit of a trek for a day, and Derbyshire being such a beautiful part of the country, gave me the idea that an overnighter in my campervan ‘Ruby Van Rouge’ would be an economical and enjoyable way to break the journey, especially with the UK having such great weather at the moment. Jack, being a fellow campervanner, agreed and it quickly became ‘a plan’. A suitable camp site just outside Buxton was found, tickets bought and the van fridge stocked up with food and a few beers.
A scenic journey up the M1 and over the high peaks of central England got me into Buxton late afternoon. Time for a brew and a bit of work before Jack arrived. We decided to walk into town, this turned out to be more of a trek than we expected – up hills, through sheep fields and over viaducts – so a final ‘sprint’ through the streets of Buxton was needed to get us to the Underground Venue just in time for the start of the show.
An office doesn’t need four walls … a camper van and an open field work just fine too!
The show was captivating and thought-provoking. As well as celebrating Eglantyne’s achievements, Anne dealt sensitively with the circumstances and deeper emotions that led Eglantyne to put her life’s passion towards saving children across the globe. Eglantyne’s start in life was privileged and idyllic; but loss through death (three close relatives to pneumonia) and loss through love (her dearest Marcus and Margaret) led to her unwavering commitment and dedication to change the world for children. I was enthralled; and surprised how a small stage and one actress could make me feel like I was also sat on Mount Saléve in Geneva as Eglantyne formulated the very first declaration of child rights (later to be adopted by the League of Nations in 1924, then incorporated into the 1989 United Nations Child Rights Convention – which still stands to this day). Throughout her show, Anne also bought in many personal, touching moments – highlighting parallels with her own life and personal journey – something that inspired her to re-tell Eglantyne’s story today. What a talented lady (both of them, that is!).
Of course 11th July was a date many in England might prefer to erase from their minds … and Jack being an avid footie fan was out of the theatre like a shot (no pun intended), and down to the bar below to immerse himself in the England v Croatia world cup semi-final (not quite the celebration we hoped for, I know). This gave me time to chat to Anne over a drink and learn more about what inspired her to bring Eglantyne’s story to the stage, and ways in which we might bring in her work to support the Centenary in 2019. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable evening, and I hope to stay in touch with Anne.
Relaxing with Anne after the show, outside Buxton Opera House
The following morning Jack and I emerged from our campers with the larks (well, the very noisy crows in the trees above) … and after a delicious breakfast cooked up in Ruby (my famous eggy brioche, smoky bacon and sun-dried tomatoes), we hit the road again for late morning calls with Save the Children members – no time to rest when mobilising the global centenary efforts to End the War on Children.
If you’re around Edinburgh in August, I highly recommend going to see Anne’s Eglantyne show! It’s on every day from 1st to 27th August at the Gilded Balloon. You can find out more on Anne’s website www.eglantynetheshow.com.