Lorna Lloyd’s ‘Diary of the war’ podcast series launch event: review and resources

Bethany Ray plays Lorna Lloyd

Actor Bethany Ray, pictured here with the original  Diary of the war, plays her great-great aunt Lorna Lloyd in the podcast series

After several weeks of preparation, on Tuesday 24th May 2022 we launched the Diary of the war podcast series at Great Malvern Priory. This blog post provides a review of the launch. It also provides links to materials related to this event, and to the wider Platform to platform (P2P) project. (Please scroll to the bottom of the post for the full list of resources.)

The content of the podcast series episodes centres on 25 year old Malvern resident Lorna Lloyd‘s chronicle of the first 16 months of World War II, complemented with contemporaneous news coverage related to the events and issues that she discusses in her writing. A further four ‘bonus’ episodes that comprise a selection of Lloyd’s poetry are included in the series.

Around 90 people in total travelled from as far away as Northumberland, Devon and Wales to join the event hosted by Edinburgh Napier University staff and students: Dr Bruce Ryan – project lead for the P2P; myself – one of the two P2P co-investigators (the other is our sound design colleague Dr Iain McGregor); David Graham – leader of the student podcast series production team; Katherine Stephen – the podcast episode announcer; and Marianne Wilson – researcher on our sister project Heritage organisations and podcasts scoping study (HOPSS).

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There was a great buzz in the Priory as everyone mingled before and after the programme of presentations, enjoying the chat and the 1940s-style refreshments. The audience included locals, curious tourists, members of Lloyd’s extended family, and a number of people already familiar with Lloyd’s life and work having read the entries posted to the Blipfoto journal LornaL between 31st August 2019 and 11th January 2021 (‘blippers’).

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We ran the formal session twice: first 2:30pm to 4:30pm for the larger afternoon audience; with a repeat for the smaller number who came along in the evening at 5:30pm. On both occasions I first welcomed everyone to the launch event, then handed over to Bruce to chair the main proceedings.

Hazel Hall opens Lorna Lloyd's Diary of the war podcast series launch event

Opening the launch event for Lorna Lloyd’s Diary of the war podcast series at Great Malvern Priory on 24th May 2022 (photo credit Kevin Rolph)

In the first presentation, Malvern Museum curator Faith Renger gave a superb analysis of the life of Lorna Lloyd, and wartime Malvern.

Faith Renger introduces Lorna Lloyd and the war diary

Faith’s narrative and slides set the context for the next contribution of the day: Bethany Ray‘s performance as her great-great aunt Lorna. Using a script that I prepared for the day, Bethany delivered excepts from the war diary, and recited some of Lloyd’s poems.

Bethany’s excellent performance evoked a range of emotional responses amongst the audience members. Several struggled to hold back tears at certain points. It was the poem Looking forward that almost set me off. For Bruce it was the mention of a little Russian boy called Ljonja, whose Daddy was ‘dead, frozen stiff in a Finnish wood, because Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler [were] determined to walk the way of senseless ambition’. These words come from the war diary entry of 7th January 1940 (11’24” minutes into Episode 4 of the podcast series).

Following each delivery of the presentations, we held a short Q&A session with the audience members.

Lloyd’s great nephew Tim Read kindly videoed the launch event presentations. The recording of the evening performances by Faith and Bethany is now available to view. This also shows panel members Bruce, Bethany, Faith, myself, Marianne and David as we answer three questions from the evening audience:

  1. Could the BBC give publicity to the podcast series?
  2. What has each member of the panel learnt from the process of making the podcast series?
  3. How appropriate is it that staff and students from a school of computing has undertaken this project?
Link to Lorna Lloyd Diary of the war podcast seriesl aunch event video

Video recording of the evening presentations by Faith Renger and Bethany Ray, and the Q&A

We have also posted online the audio (only) of the afternoon Q&A. The questions answered in this 20 minute session were:

  1. What’s next for the project team: a TV series about Lorna Lloyd perhaps?
  2. Who owns the rights to the material in the podcast series?
  3. Has the project team been in touch with the Imperial War Museums?
  4. How did Bethany decide on the portrayal of Lorna Lloyd’s voice?
  5. How could the podcast series be used with young people and children?
  6. Is there any more original material by Lorna Lloyd available, such as letters?
  7. Are there any people alive now who met and knew Lorna Lloyd?
  8. What does the project team hope to get out of the academic element of the P2P project?

Members of the Napier team also took advantage of their time in Malvern to visit sites in the town important to the life of Lloyd. The photographs in the slideshow below show some of them.

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*Please note that all podcast series episodes are first versions. Over the summer months, one of the student production team – Alex Gencs – is working on enhancements to the war diary episodes. As part of this work, Alex will be adding ‘sound design’ to the episodes so that the next version will include sound effects.

The project team is grateful to all who have supported this project, including the AHRC, the BBC Archive, the British Library, the British Newspaper Archive, Creative Informatics, Edinburgh Napier University, FindMyPast, the Malvern Museum of Local History, and the Lloyd family.

Lorna Lloyd, Diary of the war, sponsor, logos

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