'Historical figure' visits Bognor primary school

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Mary Wheatland, the "Mermaid of Bognor" (AKA Vicky Edwards), and local artist Matt Reed visited the Bishop Tufnell school to speak to the year three children about the Bognor Regis Time Portal project and to deliver a workshop all about Bognor's history, part of a school outreach funded by the Arts Council and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Matt Reed said, Vicky Edwards and I really enjoyed the visit. The children were fantastic and so well-behaved. They were fascinated by the time portal project and the history of their local area, and they asked some excellent questions. I placed the augmented reality bathing machines and the hologram of Mary into their assembly hall, showing the children on my phone, much to their delight.

We talked about where they would go if they were to design their own time portal, and the children came up with some brilliant answers, including quite a few who would go back to the time of the dinosaurs! We also discussed about why art is important. It was a lovely morning all around.

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Charlotte Richardson, the school's History Lead said: "On 9th May, our Year 3 pupils had a wonderful visit from ''Mary Wheatland' as part of their topic on the history of their locality, Bognor Regis. The portal was quite literally transported to our school from Bognor sea front! The children were able to view holographic images of Mary and her bathing machines, projected into our school hall; this gave them a real sense of what life was like on the beach all those years ago. Seeing 'Mary' dressed in her traditional outfit, and viewing photos of the past, were so engaging for the children; they were quite captivated and asked some super questions. We are so grateful to Matt Reed and Vicky Edwards, who delivered such an engaging and relevant local topic in such a fascinating way. You certainly brought this topic alive for the children! Thank you so much for your interest and enthusiasm."

Mary Wheatland and the year 3 children from Bishop Tufnell.Mary Wheatland and the year 3 children from Bishop Tufnell.
Mary Wheatland and the year 3 children from Bishop Tufnell.

The session included a discussion about how Mary Wheatland was a celebrity in her lifetime and how her image was used on early postcards. The children were left with a challenge to design their own version of a Bognor Regis postcard, and the finished designs will be submitted any day now. We will be selecting some to share via our social media channels.

The Bognor Regis Time portal is a free-to-use immersive reality experience on the beachfront in Bognor Regis which will be in place until September 2025. Go to www.BRTimePortal.com for more details, or follow on social media using the tag @BRTimePortal.

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