Poetry Together, led by author and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth and backed by Dukes Education, brings young and old together to recite poems they have learned by heart.
A strong advocate of the benefits of poetry and literature, Her Royal Highness joined pupils from Knightsbridge School and Marlborough Primary in Chelsea, Hungerford Primary in Reading and Lewis School Pengam, south Wales, to hear their recitals. These were made with care home residents from London, Reading and Wales at Eaton Square Upper School Piccadilly.
Among the speakers was Leon, a 94-year-old Polish WW2 Uboat pilot, who performed ‘The Soldier’, a polish poem he learnt as a boy, with Yr 10 student, Kacsper Dudeck, also from Poland. The two have bonded over poetry at the intergenerational lunch club hosted by Lewis School Pengam, and recited a duet in both Polish and English.
The Duchess of Cornwall, who is Royal Patron of the Royal Society of Literature and Patron of The Silver Line, then recited Matilda by Hilaire Belloc with four children from Knightsbridge School, while Marlborough Primary and Knightsbridge School pupils closed the recitals with a rendition of Buckingham Palace by AA Milne.
More than 200 schools and care homes across the country have signed up to take part in Poetry Together, which took place this month to tie in with National Poetry Day on 3 October.
The inspiration for Poetry Together was a radio programme Gyles made last year featuring University of Cambridge research which confirmed the benefits to memory, speech and confidence from learning and speaking poetry.
The initiative is backed by Dukes Education, whose Founder and Chair of Governors, Aatif Hassan, said: “This project has uplifted the lives of young people through the nourishing effect of poetry – and equally put a smile on the face of the older generation.”
The Duchess of Cornwall joined the schoolchildren and older people taking part for tea and cake after presenting them with certificates of participation. Gyles then provided every participating school with a signed copy of his new poetry anthology Dancing by the Light of the Moon.
Gyles said: “The benefits of poetry for old and young are vast, and Poetry Together creates a new way for these groups to come together and share a common experience.
“This event, celebrating the inaugural Poetry Together project is the perfect stage for pupils and the elderly to flex their poetic muscles, and we really hope it will encourage enough people to join in so we can run the project every year.”