LOCAL VIDEOGRAPHER DIGGING UP STORIES ABOUT THE SUFFOLK LAND GIRLS WHO HELPED FEED THE NATION DURING WW2
NEWS UPDATE: Holly, The Suffolk Land Girls and Nigel Oakley visited the Newmarket Races for Festival of Suffolk Day on the 14th May 2022 where there was a WLA stand and a live display of Land Girls working with the Suffolk Punch horse to launch Holly’s first, children’s book ‘Chesnut and Daphne‘. Find out more here.
Suffolk based film-maker Holly Brega has made a lasting legacy telling the story about the women who worked the land and horses, especially the Suffolk Punch horse during WW2 as part of the Women’s Land Army.
Official trailer video below:
“Just watched this, and we both found it fascinating. Hats off, Holly, a very interesting new look at the history of Suffolk. Thank you.” Robyn K
“Great film, well done Holly.” John T
“Thank you for sharing. Wonderful documentary, very enjoyable. Fabulous ladies, beautiful horses. x” Amanda W
“So well done Holly – I’m sure your father would be immensely proud of you. My 93 year old mother wants to know why it’s not being shown by the BBC.” Kay S
“Well done everyone, very interesting, really enjoyed watching. x” Caroline G
“Amazing Holly, very informative. You present it in a very natural, lovely manner.” Karen F
“Watched last night. thanks for sharing, very enjoyable.” Tracey H
“Definitely worth a watch.” Deryth H
LAUNCH EVENT: To celebrate an extended Women’s History Month, ‘The Land Girls and Horses of Suffolk’ documentary was screened at the Hold in Ipswich on the 5th February 2022, alongside an exhibition of amazing original WLA artefacts. Here are some photos from the launch! Photos credited to Matei Muntiu.
About the Women’s Land Army:
- The Women’s Land Army was set up in 1917 to undertake farm work throughout the country
- In 1943 there were 1853 members in active employment in Suffolk
- There are less than 500 pure bred Suffolk Punch horses registered in the UK today
- The Suffolk horse is a category one rare breed meaning they are critically endangered
About the documentary:
The documentary is filmed at many locations throughout Suffolk from the Museum of East Anglian Rural Life (now the Museum of Food), Rede Hall Farm, Mauldons Brewery and open farmland.
It has interviews talking to experts in the area including Nicky Reynolds who has dedicated over 25 years to discovering and raising awareness of the Women’s Land Army. Also, Nigel Oakley who works with the Suffolk Punch horse and helps others develop the horsemanship needed to continue the succession of the breed.
Film-maker Holly, says “This documentary film is important because the part these amazing women and horses played in the Second World War needs to never be forgotten and I want to inspire the next generation to develop an interest in these subjects which go hand in hand but are not often taught at school or seen on tv so I feel it is my duty as a story teller to share”.
The film was premiered at the Suffolk’s archive centre ‘The Hold‘ for Women’s History Month, February – March 2022 and it is in support of the ‘Soil Sisters‘ Exhibition as part of the ‘Sharing Suffolk Stories’ project.
BEHIND THE SCENES FILMING DIARY
July: I had a wonderful time filming with Nigel Oakley and Emma Lodge at Hall Farm in Rede. Emma is learning how to work with Suffolk Punch horses and she is learning from the best – Nigel is a pro!
I have been chatting and filming with the very knowledgeable Nicky Reynolds who puts so much time, effort and love into collating stories from the Land Girls for her exhibition at The Hold in Ipswich for Women’s History Month. I don’t think I’ve met anyone so passionate.
August: I attended the Hay-on-Wye 75 Women’s Land Army Victory Harvest Parade which Kay, Bron, Nicky and Vicky put together amazingly. There was about 16 ladies all dressed up to commemorate the Land Girls, past and present. It was a beautiful day and I met some amazing people!
I have also been chatting to the wonderful Iris Bird (nee Bailey), former Land Girl who worked and trained in Suffolk at Shimpling. I can’t wait to share more about her story with you all.
September: It has been another busy month collecting footage at the Suffolk Punch Trust in Hollesley, following the farmers to get footage of the harvest and visiting farms that are doing their bit for the environment. I also had a quick trip to the Garrett’s Long Shop Museum in Leiston too.
I managed to get my sister in law, Antonia dressed up in 1940’s clothing depicting a Land Girl heading off to her posting on the train at Sheringham.
October: The Museum of East Anglian Life kindly let me film a recipe from the Land Girls Recipe book in their kitchen which was great! I also met Charlie from Mauldon’s Brewery and we spoke about how Suffolk Punches have inspired his company branding and the effect they had on the business.
That’s a wrap! I want to thank everyone involved, now I will need lots of tea as post-production begins! Trailer has now been created, you can watch here.
November: I have been editing in between other filming projects. I have also edited the full interviews with Iris Bird and Nicky Reynolds so those that visit the full exhibition at The Hold will be able to hear Iris’s story and the history of the WLA Uniform in full. As part of the Soil Sisters display there is also an online map where you can visit locations and see what WLA story corresponds. You never know, there may be more on your doorstep than first realised.. Visit: HistoryPinMap.
December: A final date has been organised for a screening of the film, 5th February 2022. It will be screened at the Hold in Ipswich to launch the opening of the new exhibition ‘Women don’t do such things”. Holly has also teamed up with local illustrator, John Thurman to create a children’s book about a day in the life of a Land Girl and a Suffolk Punch horse. FIND OUT MORE HERE.
January: A new trailer has been created and shared online for all to see.
February: The launch of the documentary was fantastic! The Hold was sold out and there has been nothing but praise for all. I am excited to announce that the next screening of the documentary is at the Guildhall in Bury St Edmunds. Free tickets can be booked here. The interview with Laura Lock on Felixstowe Radio can be viewed in the button below.
March: I had an interview with Babara Eeles for the Bury Free Press where I spoke about the reasons why I made the film and how I feel it helped me cope with losing my father to breast cancer. You can read the full story here. I am thrilled that the screenings in Bury St Edmunds were thoroughly enjoyed. The new exhibition at the Guildhall ‘From Ration books to Rock ‘n’ Roll’ can still be visited.
April: The launch of my children’s book will be on the 14th May in Newmarket at the Family Raceday to celebrate the Jubilee. The documentary is not to be live online because I feel it has a larger potential with a broadcaster or streaming service so I think I will go down those avenues.
May: The launch of my children’s book ‘Chesnut and Daphne’ went really well at the Rowley Mile Newmarket Racecourse. We also has a stall at the Bressingham 1940s Steam Festival which was fab. In addition I joined forces with the Suffolk Horse Society and had a stand at the Hadleigh Show. The book is now available to buy in the Museum of Food in Stowmarket for £6.99.