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Pupils' pictures of Dame Vera Lynn and Sandie Shaw painted onto school hoardings

PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 December 2018

Greatfields School pupils by the hoardings with Be First's Iain Ferguson, art teacher Sarah Knight, Bouygues UK's Alison Cormack and Cllr Lynda Rice. Picture: Andrew Baker

Greatfields School pupils by the hoardings with Be First's Iain Ferguson, art teacher Sarah Knight, Bouygues UK's Alison Cormack and Cllr Lynda Rice. Picture: Andrew Baker

Andrew Baker

Almost 1,500 years of history has been told in just five pictures depicting some of the famous women connected to Barking and the surrounding area.

Pupils from Greatfields School have painted women from St Ethelburga, the first Abbess of the monastry of Barking in the 7th century, to Dagenham’s very own Eurovision Song Contest winner Sandie Shaw, on the hoardings surrounding their new school building.

Other iconic women to be featured include Dame Vera Lynn, who grew up in East Ham and later lived in Barking, former Barking MP Jo Richardson and humanitarian Elizabeth Fry, who lived in East Ham.

Pupils in Years 8 and 9 have been learning about the women featured in the project, which was the brainchild of Alison Cormack, who works for developers Bouygues UK.

She worked with art teacher Sarah Knight to bring the vision to life and said: “The idea for the project came about as part of my resident liaison officer role for Bouygues UK on the Weavers Quarter scheme we have just completed.

“This involved working closely with Greatfields School and it was through engaging with Sarah and the school art club about community events that the idea to honour five famous local women evolved.”

Sarah added: “This project brought alive real local historical figures through art.

“It was such a great idea by Alison and the pupils really became engaged and found out how and why strong east London women have made such a huge impact on our country and society.”

Greatfields School, on the Gascoigne estate, is being built in phases as part of the estate’s wider regeneration by the council’s housing arm Be First.

The two living women to be depicted on the hoardings have both expressed their delight at being featured.

Dame Vera said: “I am delighted to be remembered in this way by the children of east London. As an East Ender I was always proud of where I was born and bred and this makes me feel prouder still.”

Sandie added: “I am absolutely thrilled that I’ve been honoured in this way and I hope the children enjoyed their project.

“It’s very humbling, and now I not only have some great memories of Barking and Dagenham, I will also have something there to remind me!”

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