Daring to Dream

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With the UK Blog Awards now just a mere 4 weeks away, time is being afforded to dream.

In all honesty I’ve been allowing myself to dream big, well before now.

How can you not, it’s a big deal right, the UK Blog Awards is the biggest awards night in it’s industry, it’s a recognised National Award, with over 2,400 entries this year.

Whittled down to 259 finalists, across two different entries of either individual or business, in 17 different categories.

My Kynren Blog is only 1 of 7 listed North East Finalists, and the only 1 from County Durham.

Regardless of winning, it’s already a huge achievement in itself.

But as much as you afford yourself the time to dare to dream, it’s not actually about the winning.

It’s not been the key ingredient that I’m at this point, of course, everyone wants to win, but it’s not why I entered.

Several weeks ago I returned to a question I often ask myself in regards to everything that I do.

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I took the time out to remind myself of why I started, and not just on how I came to become a finalist at this year’s awards either.

I started this blog a year ago, in March of last year, I started it because in all honesty it seemed a good idea at the time, I wanted to record my journey through the Kynren process to one day look back on.

I’m not going to lie either, I didn’t find writing, over time writing found me.

I remember starting the blog, writing a couple of entries and then life took over and I slipped, on the Friday before the first show, the debut show on Saturday 2nd July 2016, I sat down and wrote and uploaded around 10 or 12 blogs to update my blog against it’s current timeline, and since then I’ve not looked back.

I’ve had the pleasure of writing a guest article for The Official Tourism Website of Durham – ‘This is Durham’ in July of last year writing a bespoke piece of what it is like to volunteer at Kynren.

And each blog entry since then has just told my story and my journey, in my own words and has captured my audience’s attention.

I have many readers, mainly across the UK but it has been read across numerous countries worldwide too.

And with that comes back to the reason why I started it.

It’s never been about the likes or the views, it’s great that so many people can and do relate to it.

But it wasn’t my drive to start it, and it’s still not my drive to continue with it.

Kynren is an ‘Epic Tale of England’, the award winning, spectacular open-air night show, run by volunteers that takes you on a captivating journey through 2,000 years of British history, myth and legend.

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But like I said I started this blog as a record to look back upon, to remember so many highlights and captivating memories. 

I entered the blog awards with the sole purpose of raising more awareness for our unbelievable, community project that is Kynren.

Little did I know that it would get this far.

So for me, winning would be nice, but it certainly isn’t everything, having the ability to head down to London in 4 weeks time, and share in a fantastic event and ceremony with so many amazing and inspirational writers and bloggers, covering so many topics and gaining so much insight, is what I’m most looking forward too.

With the added bonus of becoming an ‘Kynren Ambassador’ for the evening and raising the awareness and exposure of not just Kynren but the town our project lives and performs in, that is Bishop Auckland.

Anything above that is just a huge bonus.

For more information or to book your tickets for one of Kynren’s 17 shows this Summer, please visit the Eleven Arches website: http://www.elevenarches.org/

Or to learn more about the awards ceremony please visit the UK Blog Awards website: http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk 

On-Site Training in Full Swing

This week saw the Kynren site a hive of activity as all of the show teams returned back for training, in what will only be described as another highly anticipated Summer and Season 2 of Kynren – ‘An Epic Tale of England’.

Despite the male teams starting their training a couple of weeks prior, it’s been great to be amongst many of the volunteers this week, to relive the buzz and the excitement that we all remember from season 1.

And many flashback moments have been shared this week, as each week from herein symbolises key moments in the lives of each volunteer.

For me, this time last year, I attended the Experience Team’s World Host Ceremony night held at Bishop Auckland College, celebrated amongst the full army of soon to be kitted up red jacket volunteers who make each visitor welcome when you attend the shows.

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To this week, one year on.

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More combat training, more choreography, more techniques.

From reading my last blog, I can hold my hand up and say I struggled, it’s not as easy as we witness from the shows. It’s a real credit to both the professional trainers and the volunteers themselves how they learn and adapt to new skills.

Thankfully, I feel more relaxed and calmer after this week, as the saying goes “practice pays off” and having taken part in some refresher training sessions I certainly feel I lot more comfortable and confident in what lies ahead.

Each training session is coming along thick and fast and the Kynren factor has already captured everyone’s hearts, no one wants to miss anything.

The project is special, the people even more so.

As you know, one of the main reasons why I moved teams from the Experience to the Show was to keep developing my blog.

I wanted the opportunity to write and record the emotions from the eyes of another side of the project.

It’s what I’d like to do each year if possible.

Every volunteer plays a part in this project, and each of us witnesses something completely different, which for me, makes this project, so, so special.

For many, combat training is special and it is, sword fighting, what’s not to like right?

But it isn’t everything, this project offers so much more, when you’ve had the opportunity to witness it from another set of eyes.

For me, my role last year wasn’t seen as glamorous, being part of a car park team throughout the majority of the show nights, but it needed doing and I’m proud of myself for standing up to do it.

Being in that role taught me so many things about myself and what my strengths and capabilities are.

But a highlight that will stay with me forever was the many families, often in some cases 2, 3 or even 4 generations of their family, arriving in Car Park ‘C’ with their picnic blankets, food and drinks.

Setting up outside their cars, sitting on the grass, catching up with each other, sharing stories and watching the sheer excitement of why they were all there, to witness our show that is Kynren.

I’ve mentioned many times that Kynren means different things to different people, but from that unglamorous role in the car parks I got to witness families meeting up, some who hadn’t seen each other since Christmas, many even longer.

I got to see their smiles, and witness the excitement, in many cases from the parents, equally, if not more than their children.

And I got their final wave of goodbyes and thank you’s when they left, with a final note of ‘we will be back’.

From moving over into the show, this week I wanted to soak up all the excitement and the buzz from the show team volunteers, not only in my training sessions, but stay around for the registration process for other sessions too.

And what’s left to say?

It’s great to be back…

Kynren returns for Season 2 on Saturday 1st July, running for 17 shows.

From the training I have received and speaking to various volunteers, this season is going up a notch and it really isn’t something you should miss.

For more information or to book your tickets, please visit Eleven Arches website http://www.elevenarches.org/

The Boys Are Back!

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The weekend of Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th March signalled the return of the male teams to the Kynren site, to begin training in preparation for 17 live shows during season 2.

This weekend was the start of my next journey, to witness ‘Kynren’ from a show team’s perspective.

First up was Combat training on the Saturday and Archery training on the Sunday.

If I am honest I was really looking forward to meeting up with all the volunteers again, some of who I hadn’t seen since the climax of the last show in season 1, and of course to meet new people, both new volunteers, and new teammates too.

As for the training, I was apprehensive, I knew it was going to be intense, certainly based on my capabilities, and maybe I’m too hard on myself, but it certainly isn’t as easy as the performers in the shows make it look to be.

Certainly more practice in both disciplines are needed as far as I’m concerned.

But thankfully and hopefully I will pick it up a lot quicker in the next training sessions which are tonight.

Today I’d like to talk about two elements of the show team, the first one is the training itself, without question, it’s second to none by some of the most talented trainers you could ever wish to meet.

But the training schedules each volunteer receives, from looking outside in last season, I knew they all worked tirelessly and put plenty of hours in to perfect the choreography for each scene, but even though I vividly remember this I can honestly say I didn’t take it all onboard at the time.

The training is intense, based on my schedule, which is very similar to a lot of teams in the show, training from now on is mainly twice a week for show team performers.

It takes a lot of dedication and commitment from each volunteer, remembering that’s what all of us are; Volunteers.

We all have various commitments, jobs, families, school, but we all come together because we do enjoy it and it’s an amazing project to be involved in.

Secondly, during that rehearsal weekend, what I noticed, and what I greatly appreciated was the support and the encouragement from the first season volunteers.

Each of them have been in exactly the same position as I and many new volunteers find themselves in now, and lots of advice and tips were presented to those who needed them most, mainly me.

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It’s always nice to return to the Kynren site, I’ve said it many times before, there’s something magical about the place, it has an ability to lift you, it improves your week, it gives you something to look forward too.

And having been an Archer from the start, there’s now definitely two elements of Kynren.

First, the shows which are outstanding, that believe me are just going to keep getting better and better, leaving every visitor with that wow effect.

But the second element of Kynren is the people involved, the hard working staff and the dedicated volunteers, between us we have created the spirit and the heartbeat of Kynren.

Another huge factor of why each volunteer chooses to share our time with the project.

Finally, a special thank you goes to the Cavalry Team, who kindly showed a number of volunteers around their stables, to meet some of the real stars of our show, our incredible horses, each with their individual characters; absolutely beautiful animals.

It was an interesting and insightful tour, especially to learn that each horse learns all of the show music so they know when to go in each scene.

Remarkable.

So with just over 15 weeks to go there is a lot going on, on site as well as an increase in the marketing of the shows too.

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From each Archer we hope we have the pleasure of your company this Summer and we can’t wait to welcome you all back to Kynren.

For more information or to book your tickets please visit the Eleven Arches website: http://www.elevenarches.org/

Communities

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Sometimes the hardest pieces of writing or blogging are the articles that matter the most to you.

To say I was delighted to find out on 2nd January that my blog was shortlisted for an award was an understatement, a complete surprise, a shock even.

When the UK Blogging Awards contacted me to write an article for their website of course I was delighted to be asked, who wouldn’t be? I feel as though it is a real honour for having the opportunity.

I wanted to base my article around the topic of my blog and hometown because essentially that is what my blog is about; ‘Kynren – An Epic Tale of England’, performed in my hometown of Bishop Auckland – one, or perhaps both, are a complete unknown for some.

After all that was the main reason for submitting my blog for nomination before the closing date of entry, I wanted the opportunity to highlight and hopefully gain further exposure of the Kynren project and showcase my town of Bishop Auckland too.

Bishop Auckland is currently a developing town, and it is going through a wave of transition with the arrival last summer of the debut season of Kynren, the first of many new developments being added to the regeneration.

Alongside Kynren, produced by Eleven Arches, its sister charity, Auckland Castle Trust, is also overseeing a major development of works in the town such as;

* Auckland Castle, which is undergoing a major renovation and restoration process. (Opening May 2018)

* The recent start of construction of a brand new Welcome Building, which incorporates a 15 metre high viewing tower that will give unsurpassed views across Auckland Park, Bishop Auckland town and the rural landscape beyond. (Opening early 2018)

These are just a couple of the programmed developments taking place, for more information on all of the planned developments please visit the Auckland Castle Trust website: http://www.aucklandcastle.org

‘For those that don’t know, what is ‘Kynren – An Epic Tale of England?’

It’s a 90-minute show made up of all volunteers, which takes each 8,000-strong audience on a visually stunning journey through 2,000 years of British history, myth and legend.

Crammed with special effects that bring the show’s scenes to life with thrilling visual impact, audiences will be transported from Roman times through to the Second World War, encountering Viking and Norman invasions, mediaeval feasts to the splendour of the Tudors, the Industrial Revolution and the Roaring Twenties along the way.

Launched by Eleven Arches in 2016, ‘Kynren – An Epic Tale of England’ is the UK’s only live action show.

The first season saw more than 100,000 people visit Bishop Auckland in County Durham to experience 2,000 years of British history, as seen through the eyes of the North East.

Season 2 starts from Saturday 1st July 2017 through the summer consisting of 17 performance dates. For more information please visit the Eleven Arches website: http://www.elevenarches.org

Eleven Arches is the vision of philanthropist and investment manager Jonathan Ruffer. Eleven Arches is one of two charities he has established in Bishop Auckland, the other is the Auckland Castle Trust.
Together, the aim of the charities is to establish Bishop Auckland as an international tourist destination, attracting visitors and investment, which will contribute to the fortune of the area and empower the community.

Lastly, I’d like to talk about the heading of this article ‘Communities.’

The Kynren project has created an opportunity for the town of Bishop Auckland and the volunteers have created a community; vibrant, supportive, caring and passionate, that will encourage future generations to come and become a part of the project and with it, help to create a new history for Bishop Auckland.

The blogging community in my short experience is no different; the UK Blogging Awards is the pinnacle event in the calendar, and one which attracts more and more submissions of entry year on year since it’s forming back in 2014, with over 2,400 blogs nominated this year.

This community offers help, support and guidance just like all communities do, keen to see others do well and better themselves and help this industry grow, and develop in which we are all now bonded too, with a common denominator that we are all here for the same reasons as we all enjoy what we do.

With Friday 21st April a mere 7 weeks away, a final note resides with each finalist, wishing you all the very best of luck during the awards ceremony in what should be a fantastic spectacle celebrating the very best of UK wide writers and bloggers.

 

Season 2

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The build up to Season 2 is now well underway, since Friday, not only has a new promotional Kynren sign been installed at the entrance to the site, but each Archer has received emailed information on not only which team they will be participating in this Summer but rehearsal times and dates too.

Following on from my experience during Season 1, I knew the Show Team’s training schedules were quite intense, but now becoming a member of one of those teams, I can now fully appreciate just how intense it is.

Looking through my rehearsal schedule yesterday, at all the different roles, training days and the many hours that each person has to put in to be show ready, it did scare me if I’m honest.

The thoughts and realisation that this was going to be tough, and so it should be.

With the first show only just over 4 months away, the training does need to be intense, there is a lot to learn.

Am I capable?

They are the type of questions why we are all here, of course we are capable, I’m here to challenge myself, and the small bit of comfort I do have is, Season 1’s volunteers were exactly in this same position last Summer and each one pulled it off with magnificent effect.

This is a world class show, which each year is going to become bigger and better as it progresses.

And that isn’t just a comment from a volunteer either, with hope or ambition and looking ahead, I know, having been in the Experience Team during the debut season last year.

From that team’s vantage point, you have a role which is very interactive with the audience, you are their guides, their information point, that friendly smile, and welcoming arrival.

If you speak to any of these volunteers, they can tell you first hand on which locations each visitor has arrived from, UK wide to International shores, each one having many different stories to tell.

Kynren is already a World Class attraction, as Archers we need to be ready, we need to build on the successes that all involved in Season 1 provided.

And keep building for our future, for generations to come.

For me my training starts this Saturday, and Sunday, I told you it was intense.

I’m really looking forward to it, to learn from World Class trainers, developing new skills, new techniques, to learn more about my own capabilities and then to learn from the people who make Kynren all it is, the Archers.

I look forward to updating you more as the weeks progress, writing from a different angle of the project.

As for Season 2, I am Show Team 5.

For more information about Kynren  or to book your tickets please visit Eleven Arches website: http://www.elevenarches.org/

The Big Team Reveal?

Tonight, we are in the process of receiving which teams we shall be taking part in during Season 2 of the must see UK attraction ‘Kynren’.

As I had decided close season to move from the Experience team to the Show team to carry on my personal journey, the question was which of the many show teams would be my newest destination.

After receiving my email from Eleven Arches tonight, I can happily reveal my selected team for Kynren Season 2 will be…

Team 5

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Season 2 brings a fresh challenge for me, experiencing it from the talented cast from Season 1, learning from those people who lived each moment in which was such a successful debut season.

Taking part in the show from fresh eyes, learning all the routines and witnessing the standing ovations.

I have to say when I received the email, the initial excitement kicks in, and then you stop yourself to read the text, and once you get to the point of your team number or name, your mind drifts on what team is that?

Honestly, I had a complete blank even though I know many of the cast members of team 5, I know I’m going to be worked hard, but well looked after, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Already looking forward to the rehearsals starting in March.

Hello to my new teammates, Team 5, Season 2 will be some adventure.

To learn more about Eleven Arches and ‘Kynren’ please follow their official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Elevenarches/

Or to book tickets please visit Eleven Arches website: http://www.elevenarches.org

Camp Kynren

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And so it starts all over again.

On Monday 13th February I attended the first volunteer group training session aptly named ‘Camp Kynren’ which will be run across the next couple of weeks in which all 1500 volunteers will attend.

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At this stage I’m not about to go into any real details and spoil it for the remaining volunteers who have yet to go, but what I will say it’s very informative and lots of fun.

I’ve mentioned many times before how special and how warm a feeling you have when you arrive back to the Kynren site, it just has this magic about itself that you can’t help but feel excited and smile both inwardly and outwardly.

Add that feeling with coming together with a large group of volunteers, some of which you know, some that incredibly you’re only meeting for the first time, and then making introductions with the brand new Archers that are keen and excited to join you on this incredible journey into Kynren, Season 2.

Season 2 has been a long time coming for many an Archer, most haven’t been back to the site since the tree planting day at the end last year, whilst some may not have even had an opportunity since the final show back in September.

It was a rollacoaster of a ride of a Summer, I definitely have the bug, and one I was keen to continue on.

This year as I mentioned in previous blogs I have moved from the Experience Team which has given me so much grounding and a great overall view of the Kynren project, where I worked alongside so many fantastic people and also had the amazing opportunity to meet, greet and speak to so many visitors to our shows.

It has been an amazing experience just to learn how Kynren has been received both from pre and post shows, it will long live as a special moment, one that I will relive through these blogs as a lasting memory.

So Good Luck to all the Experience Team heading into Season 2, each of you are a credit to each other and the project.

I will be very jealous of not being able to wear the famous red jacket but each time I see it will spark hundreds of memories, smiles and laughter in the process.

So, to the show team…

After Monday night I did have to question my sanity, after a brief exercise of co-ordination skills and movement I finally understood what all of my friends had been telling me for years.

I don’t have any 😄

Much work ahead for me, but one I’m looking forward too.

The performing, the standing ovations, they will be outstanding in their own right but it’s not everything that I’m looking forward too.

I’m looking forward to challenging myself, taking myself out of a slight personal comfort zone, adapting myself, learning new skills, and learning from the best, our choreographers and our first season Archers.

And one thing for certain is I’ll work myself hard, not just because that’s my way, because I now have a moral responsibility not just to myself but to all my fellow teammates right across the full project and to the paying visitors that come far and wide across every corner of the globe.

Throughout my blogs, the common denominator is the people, I’m proud of them all.

Without any of them we wouldn’t be where we are today, look back on what we all achieved, look onwards another 12 months and dare to dream, but in our cases live out the reality.

Kynren Season 2, is going to be Epic, we’d love you to be a part of it, there are 17 shows this year starting on Saturday 1st July running until Saturday 16th September.

For further information or to book your tickets please head over the Eleven Arches website here: http://www.elevenarches.org