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York St John links up with Brontë heritage project in Haworth

York St John University has developed a unique relationship with two iconic Brontë heritage sites as part of a university module designed to develop employability skills in the Arts.

The pilot scheme between the University’s English Literature programme and Haworth Parish Church and the Old School Room will involve second year undergraduates contributing to the awareness and fundraising programmes for both the Parish Church and the Old School Room each spring.

Using entrepreneurial skills, the students will devise creative projects of their own which will be integrated into the financial plans to save the two historic buildings in Haworth. The Parish Church is close to completion of the first stage in a three-part, five-year project to restore the Victorian building while Brontë Spirit is about to undertake a major restoration of the Old School Room across the other side of Church Street in Haworth.

Six students from York St John University have volunteered to work alongside the two Haworth-based organisations as part of the pilot scheme this year, which it is hoped will continue to run in future years. One option in their employability-based studies is to contribute to a community living heritage project with a strong literary connection. Both the Parish Church and the Old School Room play central roles in the legacy of the Rev. Patrick Brontë and his internationally famous author daughters.

All six students on the ‘Working with Words’ module, together with module leader Professor Gweno Williams, paid their first visit to Haworth in March. They met officials from both host organisations to discuss their proposed projects and how they would fit into existing fundraising programmes.

Professor Gweno Williams, National Teaching Fellow at York St John University, said:

“It is very important for Arts and Humanities students to explore and develop skills relevant to future employment – this is a fantastic opportunity to do so, as well as directly helping to sustain Yorkshire’s literary heritage.

“Additionally, one of the student volunteers, Heather Bothwell, is related to the last rector to live in Haworth Parsonage, Rev. J C Hirst  MA (1925-1947), so she and her family are particularly delighted about this opportunity forming part of her university studies.”

Rev. Peter Mayo-Smith, the priest in charge at Haworth Parish Church, added:

“We’re delighted to be working with York St John University and their students. Both Haworth Parish Church and the Old School Room are living links to the Brontë family and it is good to have their support as we seek to secure both buildings for the future.”

Picture shows: Haworth Parish Church

For further information please contact Amy Hall, PR & Communications Officer on T: 01904 876466 or E: a.hall@yorksj.ac.uk