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22 May 2021

Posted by Tabby Hayward


11-14 group – 10 attending

15-18 group – 10 attending

This week, in our last workshop before half-term and (hopefully!) returning to our Lighthouse building, we were continuing with our lighthouse theme and stories, while also taking some time to consider our very own Lighthouse…

The younger group began by thinking back to their character who lives in a lighthouse, and taking 5 mins to write down as many facts about them as possible – seeing if anything surprising came up! Safir perhaps had the most surprising fact, in that his character only drank egg yolks, but there was also some stiff competition from Jasmine, whose character owned two ferrets brilliantly named Bubble and Squeak!

Next, the young writers wrote a letter from their lighthouse character to somebody else, considering who their character was writing to and why, what they might want to tell them, what they might want them to do, and any secrets or surprises that might be revealed in their letter. Here are some examples…

From Annie:

22nd May 2021

Hey mum,                

It’s only been a week since I spoke to you but it feels like an eternity. I miss you more than anything, I can’t even explain the feelings I’ve had the last 7 years. Enough about me for a second, how are you? I hope you are okay even though you can not see me or dad and we can't see you. Something happened yesterday, I found a girl on a raft in the middle of the night and guided her to safety. She is staying in the lighthouse until she tells us what happened but for now she doesn’t speak much. The storms are getting worse, I fear that one day the storms will damage the lighthouse you left us. Sea levels are rising,  and i don’t think it’s long until the fields flood. Everything is going wrong without you here, I wish you didn’t have to leave.

Dad says I should stop writing to you. Apparently, it’s “Not good for my mental health” from what he tells me. But he can never make me stop talking to you! Nobody understands me, they see me as a happy, cheery person who loves everything colourful and happy. They’re wrong, I can’t keep up the act much longer! Please come back to me...My life is not worth living without you. I know it wasn’t your fault that the train crashed and killed everyone inside of it...including you but you have to try and come back to me!

Love from Robert.

And Jake:

22nd May 2018 A random house (you choose) Northern lighthouse  Dear people that read this My name is Daniel and I live in the northern lighthouse from the age of 3 Never met a person before, well from what I remember, Anyways I am coming down from the Northern light house and touch the ground once again, coming across the water to see people once more.

I don’t know what I am in for.

Next, we thought about our own Lighthouse in Poole, and why it might be called the Lighthouse, when it’s not actually a lighthouse! To think about this, we looked at the Rudyard Kipling ‘Just So’ story, ‘How the Camel Got His Hump’, which then inspired our own writing for ‘How the Lighthouse Got Its Name’! We thought about the ways in which our Lighthouse could resemble an actual lighthouse (how might it guide people? Does it look similar? Does it perform any similar tasks? What happens inside it? How does it make people feel?) There were some wide ranging and very creative ideas, many of which I wish were the real reason why the Lighthouse got its name!

Here’s Annie’s beautiful backstory for the Lighthouse!

The lighthouse we speak of is not what it seems. It all started after the magnificent building first opened. It first was called “Pooles theatre” that was until it changed. The lights came on and drew the audience in and held them close. Once the first show had finished it was clear the lights and building had a far greater purpose. “This place is amazing!” a pedestrian said walking out of the building. “It reminds me of a glowing light, especially the spotlights.” They continued. The owner of the lighthouse, Mark Parker,  overheard her excitement and decided that the name was not suited to this beautiful theatre. That night, he stayed up late thinking of a new name until...The lighthouse. It was perfect, too perfect that he ordered the builders to add in huge writing “The lighthouse” on the front of the entrance. People questioned the name but Mark knew the spotlights resembled the glow of the light on a lighthouse and that would forever be true. 

In the older group, we began with this exercise, and there were some likewise very creative ideas, from Eve’s idea of it being a building like the house in ‘Up’ which floats away because it is a light house(!), Elsie’s story of the daughter of the architect looking up from her boat at the gleaming white building and becoming inspired, and Aurora and Evie’s which are available to read below…

The Lighthouse is named as such due to an unfortunate accident where a wizard, quite the amateur, used his rod of power he pinched from a magical meet-and-greet (he almost got stopped by security but the guy was an inch off the enthusiastic thief’s coattails) to magic away a Lighthouse from the Cornish coast. You might ask why he went to Cornwall, and that’s because he couldn’t afford to go and relax in the Maldives, he hadn’t got the hang of money yet. Well, he had, but it was all in pennies and the lady at the bank told him, not so kindly, to eff off. Then he tried a simple summoning spell in Poole, which was a disaster to say the least, as he was an amnesiac who didn’t remember the last think he’d magicked away. So as the Lighthouse was plopped on top of a rather disgruntled theatre, the erring wizard ran away before he was chased down by either the rod’s owner, the bar owner (who was Irish and red-faced) or the fast-approaching Cornish lighthouse owner in a yellow rainjacket and loudly squelching shoes.

Eventually the people moved to like the odd structure, and hosted beer nights and theatre troups there. However, the wizard was eventually caught, clapped in irons and the rod returned to it’s original owner. Then the building burned down, was rebuilt in an odd white structure and the name stuck. By Aurora

Once the theatre was built, the performers moved in, turned on all of the lights and went to bed in the only room without lights. The lights stayed on all night and a person walking by said, "That's a light house."

Then they told the owners, who squished the words together to form the word Lighthouse.

By Evie

Next, in the older group, we looked at some extracts from Virginia Woolf’s novel, ‘To The Lighthouse’, thinking about how she uses the lighthouse to represent so much, as a recurring symbol throughout the book, with different meanings and resonances for different characters. Inspired by this, the young writers came up with their own ‘To the Lighthouse’ stories, where the lighthouse came to represent something important, in a variety of ways, some more literal and some more symbolic and poetic…

Here is Evie’s suspenseful story…

I turn away for fear that I look suspicious. The chill of the night and the limited visibility make the journey hardly bearable.

As I look out to sea, I see a bright light in the distance. But then I hear it. That's not just any light.

That's the light of a lighthouse.

I turn back and, from the look on their faces, I can tell they can see it too. Then all of them run to their cabins and I run to mine.

Everything is either broken or on the floor. The dark waves are battering the boat on all sides as it wraps it like a present.

"There's a hole in the boat!" someone shouts.

Swiftly, I grab everything I have and shove it into my bag.

"Try and plug it!" another yells, the noise of the waves interfering with our hearing.

I rummage through all the broken pieces and find nothing. I rip the door of my cabin off and run out into the open.

"Where's the hole?" I say, "I've got something to plug it with."

"Over there!" someone replies, directing me to one of the cabins, but it's too late.

The boat starts to sink.

"Abandon ship, abandon ship!" shouts the captain, running towards us.

I jump off the boat and scramble onto the door. Others do the same but not the captain.

"Come on! What are you waiting for?" a man yells to the captain.

"The captain goes down with his ship." he replied.

Then the captain disappears, along with the ship.

Now all of us are stranded in the sea.

Those who could swim were pushing their families to shore. Others were simply sitting there.

I chuck my bag onto the door and start to push it to shore.

Land. I will get there.

And here is Lily’s beautiful, emotive piece about brothers and connection…

Eleven o’clock on a Wednesday night was dark.

It was spent feeling alone, leaning on windowsills while Luka slept and wondering how small he was to people in the sky, and it was spent chasing that odd feeling through the hallways of his mind, cracking open his heart and asking, What do you feel for him, the boy with the black hair?

And it was spend sitting in a box of glass with a stack of white cards and blond hair all he could see over the top of a stack of white cards. They were white rectangles each with a tiny triangle cut out of the top left corner because Jacob did not want the cards to have four sides.

“We don’t have to carry on,” Joseph said. The next word on the card was ten letters long and would take longer than he had the patience for to learn. “We can pick this up tomorrow.”

“Mummy said that she will know if I stop.”

“Did she tell you to stay up late?” he asked, feeling the beginnings of a conversational circle materialise under his socks.

“She told me not to stop until I learnt all of these words.” Joseph sighed and cast the cards onto the side table and looked at his brother. His eyes were blue and earnest, and he had a blanket drawn about his shoulders. “She said she can tell if I do something bad and break her rules. She’s magic, Jo.”

He rolled his eyes. “She’s a bitch is what she is.”

“I want to carry on,” said Jacob, and frowned at the swearword. “I like this word.”

It was ten letters long and printed on a white card, with a lighthouse drawn on the back in the wobbling pen of a child.

“One. Two, three. Four. Five.”

Jacob hated numbers but liked to count. His brother was never sure what he counted. His mind seemed very simple from the outside – he liked Pepper and hated Tuesdays, he liked magic and hated fire – but the longer that they sat together in the conservatory, the blinds open and the rain pouring, as if inside a bubble of the universe, Joseph saw that his view wasn’t true at all.

Despite how simply his thoughts came out, Jacob’s mind was complicated – a knot of difficult emotions that he didn’t have the words to express. He was eight years old and he liked to think. “The word is lighthouse.”


“Almost.” Joseph tried to smile encouragingly. “It’s like the word right, another word with a funny spelling. Right, the opposite of wrong.”


He smiled and sat forward, reaching to ruffle Jacob’s curls. “Well done, you got it.”

“What if I don’t remember it in the spelling bee?”

“Then you don’t remember it.” Joseph shrugged. “And that’s okay.”

“I need to come first!” he insisted, and then sighed. He tipped his head back and looked up through the glass and the water droplets and up inside the dark sky. “I feel like a lighthouse.”

“How so?” Joseph wondered if he was as introspective at the age of eight, if he wondered about the world for hours and wrote down words on pieces of paper that seemed to have no connection: Pepper, ghost, school, alone, magic.

He pulled a face. “I feel very alone.”

“You have Pepper.”

“She isn’t here right now, and that isn’t what I mean.” He sat up and regarded Jo with eyes that seemed to have fire inside them behind the cool sky-blue. “I feel alone inside my head. Don’t you?”

“I have friends.”

“How interesting can friends be at military school?” Jacob asked.

Jo turned his head away and bit back a smile. “Very interesting, I swear.”

“You don’t have a girlfriend.”

“Thank you for pointing that out,” he replied archly, and he thought of the letter on his desk that had a wax seal – because of course the boy with black hair sealed his letters with wax – and he wondered. “I don’t feel alone. I’m different to you.”

“Everyone is.” He sighed and sounded as if he was considering the world in a way that children shouldn’t. “I feel like a lighthouse and it annoys me that you don’t feel it too. I feel like I’m standing all alone and anyone who sees me asking for help sees it as a sign to go away and… does.”

“Pepper hasn’t gone away from you.”

Jacob made a noise of consideration. “I suppose, and that’s why I like her. What is the next word?”

“Spell lighthouse again for me,” he said, though he cast the card aside.

“L-i-g-h-t-h-o-u-s-e. What’s the next word?”

He turned over the next card. “Yesterday. Can you spell it for me?”

“What did you do yesterday?” Jacob asked instead, and Jo laughed.

Sometimes he almost forgot the difference of five years between them, because Jacob’s small, careful voice seemed to fill the room with something much bigger than both of them. “I don’t feel alone when it’s like this,” Jacob said, and he looked up again. “Go on, tell me about what it’s like at military school!”

“Boring as anything,” Jo lied, and the lie made him feel quite alone, unable to share what it was really like inside his head. Like his brother’s lighthouse.

We can’t wait to reunite in person after half term at our own Lighthouse once again – see you then!


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