Arts in Rural Gloucestershire’s ‘Our Secret Forest’ project wins National Lottery support!

Gloucestershire charity Arts in Rural Gloucestershire (AIR in G) has received £25,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project called ‘Our Secret Forest’. Working in partnership with the Dean Heritage Centre young people from local schools and AIR in G’s youth theatre will explore memories of people who grew up in the Forest of Dean during World War II.

The Forest was and remains a place of secrets, and has played a central role in much of Britain’s rich heritage across the centuries.

However, the events it witnessed during WWII still have ramifications today and AIR in G recognises a strong need to explore this rich seam of history with young people across the district. Thanks to National Lottery players, ‘Our Secret Forest’ will enable young people to engage in an important aspect of local history by connecting them with members of their community through their shared heritage.

Using these collected memories the project will culminate in November 2017 with a brand new live performance created by young actors from Found in the Forest Youth Theatre. An exhibition celebrating the project will also go on display at the Dean Heritage Centre.

AIR in G is looking forward to hearing from anyone who would like to be involved in this project.

  • Were you a child in the Forest of Dean during WWII?
  • Do you have memories you’d like to pass on?
  • Were you or someone you know evacuated to the Forest?
  • Do you have a story about the American soldiers who were deployed to the area?
  • Are you a teacher? Would you like your school like to host a free workshop?
  • Are you a young person who’d like to be part of the project?

If so please get in touch. AIR in G would love to hear from you!

Contact AIR in G on 01989 566644 or email

Executive director of AIR in G Ed O’Driscoll said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project will enable young people to learn about this important part of their community’s history.”

Nerys Watts, head of HLF South West, said: “We’re delighted that money raised by National Lottery players can support young people in Gloucestershire to explore the hidden heritage of the Forest of Dean. With HLF support, participants will be able to learn new skills, connect with different generations in their community and engage with their local history.”

Twitter: @artsinruralglos

(from a press release)