Heroes With Grimy Faces

Posted on November 18, 2014

Manchester Camerata and Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service have been working alongside four Cheshire primary schools this term to create a brand new piece of music theatre, highlighting the evolution of the firefighter, their duty to society and the role of the female firefighter.

Listen to participants being interviewed on BBC Radio Merseyside (skip to 26:40)

The project culminated in a final performance at Chester Cathedral on Tuesday 25 November, and incorporated a performance by Cheshire Fire and Rescue Choir of ‘The Rising’ the song which featured on the BBC programme The Choir last year.

Each of the participants, including children, adults, University of Chester students and Cheshire Fire and Rescue staff, helped to devise all of the music and drama which featured in the performance.  The schools were split into four groups, each having four days of workshops with Manchester Camerata practitioners.  During this time they explored the themes and composed lyrics and melodies which became new songs, and also staged all of the scenes.

Titled Heroes with Grimy Faces, the performance was split into four scenes:

Scene 1 by St Bridget’s Catholic Primary School opens one hundred years ago in 1914 at the outbreak of World War One. With all men being called up to fight the country is left without a fire service and when a fire starts in a local school there are no firefighters to help put it out.

Scene 2 by Culcheth Community Primary School and Halton Lodge Primary School sees The Daughter taking on the responsibility of becoming a firefighter while the men are away fighting.  It also traces the origins of the fire service from Roman Times through to 1800 when the Fire Service was officially created.

Scene 3 by Parkroyal Community Primary portrays The Daughter saving the school but getting injured in the line of duty.  When her father, the Fire Chief returns from the war, he believes it is too dangerous for women to be firefighters.

Scene 4 by Woodlands Primary School – when a fire breaks out in a munitions factory and the injured Fire Chief is unable to move the heavy equipment to put it out, his daughter defies his orders and combats the fire, in the process igniting the fire to change history and laying the foundations for women to become firefighters in the future.

The success of Heroes with Grimy Faces is due to the immense hard work of all the participants and our thanks extend to Sian Corrigan, Mark Cashin, Ant McCarthy and all the staff at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, the University of Chester and all of the school staff that have helped with this project.