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Haworth’s West Lane Baptist Church to host performance portraying the plight of wartime conscientious objectors

The ordeal faced by the thousands of people who refused to kill during the First World War will feature in a hard-hitting storytelling performance in Haworth this autumn.

The Worth Valley Storytelling Guild has announced that it is to host peace campaigner and storyteller Simon Heywood on October 17.

Mr Heywood will narrate the often forgotten tales of conscientious objectors who took a principled stance against combat during the conflict, suffering the consequences after being branded as cowards or even traitors.

A spokesman for the organisers of the performance said: “Their memory has been neglected, and they are still dismissed as cranks. But every objector had to learn to account for his choices, and tell his own story.”

“As their world collapsed the ‘conchies’ embarked on a long, lonely and silent war against war itself.”

“They suffered ridicule, torture and imprisonment. Their stand split families and communities. They played cat-and-mouse with the state.”

“Some were forced to the front. Others went willingly, or toiled on the home front. A thousand refused, and went to jail. Some went mad and some died, though many survived the war to embark on lives of public service. We reap the benefits of this legacy today.”

Drawing on first-hand accounts, letters, diaries and memoirs, Mr Heywood will be bringing the voices of the conscientious objectors out of the silence, with original songs composed and sung by internationally renowned storyteller Shonaleigh Cumbers.

Adam Sargant, from the Worth Valley Storytelling Guild, says “I had the privilege of seeing Simon and Shonaleigh tell these stories recently to a packed and silent house at the Beyond the Border storytelling festival.”

“Simon delivers a moving account of the trauma and abuse that the conscientious objectors were subjected to, while at the same time telling the story of hope in the birth of the British peace movement, connecting the reality of our lives today with the actions of those who went on to serve in the cause of peace nearly a hundred years ago.”

“It is an immense pleasure to have the opportunity to share these stories.”

Out of the Silence will be performed at the West Lane Baptist Church, Haworth, on October 17 from 7:30pm.



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