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Lorraine & Lee Bytheway


We’re part of the Bolsover Poetry Group, Rhythm and Rhyme. Back in early 2015 we had a message from Matt Black, who was the Poet Laureate at the time. He let us know that there was an event going off where you could meet everybody at First Art. We had actually just about packed up in the October before that. There was only three of us turned up and we just said, shall we call it a day? We were really really sad about it. Then in the next few weeks that we got the email from Matt Black saying First Art are coming, let’s get together and do a poem about Bolsover and put in for this small community award. I rang around everybody and everybody were right up for it. It just inspired us to have another go and be a bit more positive. 

We wrote a poem with Matt about Bolsover, and at the event with First Art he read it out for us and we all joined in. I picked a form up at the end of the evening and applied for this award. It was £250. We said it was this little poetry group meeting in a coffee shop, and we would like to expand a bit and have workshops. I wrote a funny poem at the end more or less begging for the money! And we got it. So it started us off. We did quite a lot with this little bit of money and it sort of gave us confidence to do a few little events at nursing homes and things like that. Also we applied for a Bolsover Community Grant, and luckily received it. That really pushed us forwards. We did a hell of a lot. Bought some sound equipment and everything. It really gave us some confidence. Now we’re quite self sufficient really. 

Jane from First Art’s been fabulous. She’s got us a lot of events. Everybody just goes for everything. As soon as we’re asked to do something I say yes on behalf of the group, and everybody just accepts it and we get on with it. One thing leads to another. It’s just smashing – all these bits of things that keep coming up.

Jane emailed me after one event and said First Art were doing their new canvas bags and they liked my poem, and could they put part of it onto the bag? Of course I agreed. That went ahead and the bags were printed. I was very happy, I was right chuffed. First Art have been amazing and we are very grateful for their support.

Words based on an interview with Lorraine

Photo: Stephen King