This project was awarded  Sustainable Development Fund support in 2018 to help deliver our Management Policy B3c ‘support initiatives for children and young people to understand more about the Dorset AONB and its special qualities through learning outside the classroom, curricular and extra-curricular activities’. It was very successful in bringing the high profile, high quality Lost Words initiative to Dorset by harnessing the considerable local artist talent in Dorset to inspire and empower local children to explore and celebrate nature.

  • SDF grant awarded: £2000
  • Other sources of funding: Crowdfunding, schools, donation fund
  • % of total funding awarded: 53%

The book ‘The Lost Words’ was created by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris in October 2017 to celebrate once-common “nature” words e.g acorn, wren, conker and dandelion – that were dropped from the Oxford Junior Dictionary 10 years ago.

The book takes twenty of the words that have been falling out of use amongst children – such as adder, kingfisher and bramble – and brings them back to life, through the magical paintings of Jackie Morris and the ‘spell poems’ of Robert Macfarlane.

The aim was to provide a copy of the book for every primary school in Dorset, to connect them with nature.

Following a successful crowdfunding appeal to raise money to cover the cost of the books the group applied for an SDF grant from us specifically towards:

  • The costs to prepare and deliver ten workshops in schools on the theme of The Lost Words, facilitated by an artist.
  • An exhibition of the children’s work that was produced during these workshops in a small touring exhibition.
  • Creation of a website

Volunteers successfully delivered the books to all the primary schools across Dorset.

9 artist led workshops were held in 9 different primary schools. The pupils explored The Lost Words using story-telling, art and photography.

Material was collated from the nine workshops and was used in the exhibition banners and on The Lost Words Dorset website.

Three pop-up banners were produced and were exhibited at the Visitor Centre in Thorncombe Wood (who led a walking trail of the book).
A touring exhibition was organised across several local country parks.

A website was designed and built in order to publish an online anthology of children’s work based on the workshops and other work in schools.

174 schools received the copies of the book ‘The Lost Words.’

9 schools benefitted from bespoke workshops engaging approx. 225 school children

6 local nature hubs were engaged in promoting the Lost Words through trails/exhibitions etc, including
– a seasonal trail at Thorncombe Woods
– an exhibition at Moors Valley Country Park,
– various Artsreach activities and
– The Lost Words being used in the Memory Cafes organised by the Alzheimer’s Society across Dorset.

Extended benefits

There were a number of extended benefits which resulted from the project – through raising the awareness of the health and well-being benefits of connecting with nature via media interviews parallel initiatives have developed.

Suggestions to others thinking of doing a similar project:

  • Timing of the workshops – easier to engage schools at the end of the autumn term when they have settled into the new school year.
  • Cash contributions – getting written commitments to contribute cash to the project before making the application.
  • Make the most of media publicity – this enabled the project to be extended beyond its original aims.
  • Volunteer commitment crucial to the success of the project.

““We ran this initiative so that children in Dorset could benefit from Robert Macfarlane’s magical words, Jackie Morris’ inspirational art in The Lost Words by commissioning professional facilitators to creatively inspire children to explore nature around them.
The touring exhibition and Lost Words Dorset website that have been developed during this project give us a legacy with which to keep this imitative live and growing for the next few years.””

Project Manager