The Sea Company

Sunday, November 26, 2006


I reminded the children that the commission for the salvage of the Red Flotilla had come from the shipping company who owned the ship. I asked them if they would like to read the letter that the shipping company had sent, thanking us for the salvage. The company was based in Ipswich and thanked us for our hard work, stating that the finds would be exhibited in their company building in Ipswich Docks. At this point the children started to become interested in the whole are of ownership - who does actually own the finds - the salvage company? the shipping company? relatives of the people on board? What about the skeletons / bones? Should these be returned to relatives who might want to bury them? (I feel this is a very important and ethical issue and we need to discuss this in full at a later date). The shipping company also told us in the letter that they had had a visit from a woman whose Great Grandfather had served and died in the Red Flotilla. She was keen to find out more about her relative and wondered whether we could help.

The company were all very keen to help so I asked them if they would like to meet the relative there and then. I was thrilled with what followed as, to me, it showed how the building up of belief in the company - how we behave - what our building says about us etc - has paid off. They were very clear about her arrival in our Reception area - about how she should feel welcome and the importance of signing in. They decided she should be shown up to our meetings room and organised the chairs in a circle with a special visitor's chair with a cushion on it. Someone offered to be the receptionist and someone else to show her to the room. I asked them how she might feel about the visit and they said that she might possibly get a bit upset, talking about her dead G grandfather - so a box of tissues and a reassuring pat on the back were prepared. I went into role as Alison Davies, coming into the room clutching a plastic bag, looking a bit nervous. The company gave me a wonderful welcome, asking me poitely to sign in and showing me the waiting area and the drinks machine. I was then escorted with great care to the meetings room. I told them that I knew hardly anything about my great grandfather and would love to know more, so would like to commision the Sea Company to find as much about him as possible.

At this point I began to look a bit upset as I talked about how he might have died. The atmosphere was very poignant as the children offered me tissues and one put her arm me and offered reassuring words, echoed by others in the circle. It was a special moment for me as the group seemed very un-selfconscious and 'together' in their empathy - not one giggle spoiled the moment! I went on to show them what was in my bag - part of a family tree, a photograph of my great grandfather and a chinese fan in a box which I told them had been discovered in a drawer in his house. I asked them if they would like to borrow the items and was reassured they would be kept safely in the company safe. The children told me they would work really hard to find out as much as possible and drew my attention to their company promises about honesty, working hard etc, before showing me back out of the building.

I was really pleased with this session - it had a special atmosphere and flow that seemed very natural, calm and thoughtful. I was so proud of the way the children had dealt with the whole situation with little or no 'teacher talk' fom me - maybe I'm getting there!!!


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