Birds of prey swoop into Lydiard Park for special schools project

Pupils were given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help fly falcons and other birds of prey as part of a Swindon Museums event at Lydiard House Museum and Park this weekend.

Published: Tuesday, 25th April 2023

Falconry event at Lydiard

As part of the ‘Take to the Skies’ project, pupils from Ridgeway Farm Academy, Shaw Ridge, Tregoze, Peatmoor and Lydiard Millicent primary schools were able to meet and hold the birds of prey during a special celebration event.

Over the past few months, pupils have been working with staff from Lydiard House Museum as part of the nationwide ‘Wild Escape’ project. Children have been learning about the falcon, the emblem of the St John family who lived at Lydiard House for over 500 years. Each class worked with a local artist to create falcon-themed artwork, which is now on display in a public exhibition at the museum.

At the final celebration event at Lydiard Park this weekend, The Falconry School’s Head Falconer, John Dowding, showed pupils some of the birds which had inspired their Wild Escape project.

Families were also able to enjoy the first view of the pupils’ art exhibition and to explore Lydiard House Museum, discovering the emblem of the falcon which occurs throughout the House.

The Wild Escape is a major new project which brings together museums and schools across the country in order to explore the natural world. Led by national art charity Art Fund and with support from Arts Council England, it is the largest ever collaboration between UK museums.

The Wild Escape gives museums and schools an opportunity to join the urgent conversation about climate crisis and biodiversity loss. The project is inspired by Wild Isles, a landmark BBC series exploring the flora and fauna of the UK.

Sara Stone and Gwen Pontefract, Learning and Engagement Officers at Lydiard House Museum, said: “Being involved in The Wild Escape has been a really special opportunity for us and pupils.

“It has helped us all to think about our access to nature in Swindon, and the importance of protecting our biodiversity. The chance to meet these beautiful birds has been a powerful reminder of why we need to act now to protect our natural world.”

Frances Yeo, Swindon Museums Manager, said: “We’ve been delighted by the artworks produced by pupils as part of The Wild Escape at Lydiard.

“This project has been a great addition to our Schools Programme at Lydiard House Museum and Park and was a fantastic way to work with local schools and families.”

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