First cohort of Heritage Horizons projects announced

Mon 08 July, 2024
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The ƹƵ of ƹƵ is proud to announce the first cohort of organisations and practitioners commissioned for its National Lottery Heritage Fund-supported project, Heritage Horizons. This initial group comprises six innovative projects, each dedicated to celebrating and preserving diverse heritage stories.

Led by the ƹƵ’s Culture and Community Engagement Team, Heritage Horizons will support a total of 12 practitioners from Bedford, Central ƹƵ, and Luton to deliver heritage projects across the region between 2024 and 2026.

Jen Lewis, Heritage Projects Officer at the ƹƵ, said: “We are excited to see the first six commissioned projects come to life and are pleased to be supporting organisations and practitioners from across the county. We were blown away by the response to the first round of applications, and would like to thank everyone who has engaged with the project so far.

“We would also like to extend a big thank you to and National Lottery players for enabling projects like this to take place.”

Along with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, project participants will get support from the ƹƵ to help them grow and connect with others. This support includes training and networking opportunities, helping them to make significant progress in their work.

To learn more about the programme and how to submit an application for the Heritage Horizons project, email:culture@beds.ac.uk

Click on each of the newly-commissioned projects below to find out more...


Inspired by the Facebook group, ‘The Luton I Remember’, on which Lutonians at home and abroad share their memories, knowledge and photographs, this project seeks to preserve local heritage, shaped by Lutonians.

Moving Image Luton will bring together young and old to share knowledge and exchange memories, views and ideas about local heritage, landmarks and locations; all of which will be documented on video alongside archival footage. We will capture the then and now to reveal new perspectives on local heritage.

The finished film will be screened for all and later made available on the Luton I Remember: Past, present and future website, to which ordinary people will be able to contribute images and videos; in time building a digital archive for the people, by the people. In years to come, both the film and website will become pieces of local heritage in their own right.

Founded by Luton-based, award-winning filmmaker, Victoria Hayford, Moving Image Luton harnesses local creative talent in the development of a film hub which regenerates the town, people and economy. In keeping with the company ethos, Moving Image Luton has made a number of films in Luton, utilising local cast and crew to showcase the abundance of creative talent in the area.


This project uses the symbol of the humble pigeon to celebrate diversity and bring communities together to create an attractive and accessible art installation in the pigeon square area of Bedford; including the Church Arcade and shop windows on Allhallows.

Hometown Birds’ is based on the migratory patterns of birds, (not to mention the incredible skills of homing pigeons) to reflect, in a light-hearted, positive, and accessible way the multicultural nature of Bedford town. Friendly and inviting workshops will take place within Church Square, on market day and when the Langar project meets, which will result in a localised installation of collaged pigeons which contain clues to the cultural roots of the maker.

Permission2 was formed in 2023 with the intention of giving members of the public a safe space and permission to play, explore, investigate, learn, have fun, and experiment through art, without any judgement.

The exciting yet natural alchemy of Sara Turner (performance and word artist) and Anne-Marie Abbate (visual artist) combines perfectly to encourage the public to have no inhibitions about trying new ideas.Separately, they have years of experience of public engagement delivery on many different creative projects, from working with people affected by homelessness on the streets, to working with staff at both Bedford Hospital and BPHA.


Gup Shup (Chit Chat) was established with the aim of creating a warm, welcoming space for women of Kashmiri heritage living in Luton. The inspiration behind establishing this group derives from the strong, generous and altruistic community bond these women have in dedicating their lives to serve others and not valuing their own skills, knowledge and talent.

The name Gup Shup literally means to chit chat in an informal gathering.

The purpose of this project is to honour the women of Kashmiri backgrounds by supporting them to share the stories of their roots and how they have built upon them throughout their lives in the UK. Women of Kashmiri heritage played a pivotal role in strengthening a cohesive community in Luton and, through this project, they deserve to be appreciated for their selfless contribution and dedication in forming strong intergenerational communities.

Shabeena Parveen is community creative practitioner. After completing higher education and having worked in various academic professions, she decided it was time to challenge herself unconventionally. Growing up in Luton, she felt there was a gap in bridging communities with creativity. She has put her skills of helping others into developing community practice with her heritage and with the people she grew up around.


The Lost Lionesses is a brand new play by Nicole Lockwood-West, which tells the story of a forgotten England women’s team from the first ever Women’s World Cup in Mexico 1971 – this team originated from Luton. It raises awareness of a story nearly lost to the annals of history, with all events in the play having come from first-hand accounts of the players themselves.It sheds light on the historical struggles of those who have ardently campaigned for equality in the sport over the years.

From a ragtag team of English teenagers on their first flight to an international championship; to a maverick football coach who risked everything for his team, The Lost Lionesses is a play that will leave audiences feeling inspired by these amazing women’s achievements, but furious with the hardship they had to endure just to play a game of football. And it all started in Luton Town.

Nicole Lockwood-West has worked in theatre for 7 years professionally in London after finishing her studies in Guildford. With her strong passion for football and theatre she was able to combine these together for her project, which recently won an award with Chelsea Women’s Football Club where she spent the weekend working with other women in football and media.Growing up, she remembers visiting her grandparents and uncle in Luton every Sunday and hearing stories about how her parents met in the local pubs and schools. Nicole has a passion for telling untold stories of regular people in the most unexpected and unimaginable circumstances. She believes telling true heritage stories leave the biggest impact on us all, they also help to enlighten the viewers of the stories themselves.


People with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD) have historically been absent from the narrative of ƹƵ and Luton. "Profound & Multiple" is a sensory heritage project dedicated to capturing and preserving the sensory experiences of local individuals with PMLD. The project aims to document these unique perspectives to ensure that the lived experiences of people with PMLD are valued and included in our social and local history.

Students from The Chiltern School in Houghton Regis will be invited to co-curate an engaging sensory exhibition about their lives, which will also recount the history of Hillcrest Special School. Furthermore, the project will organise visits to local heritage sites to assess their accessibility for people with PMLD. These experiences will be shared with other families through a blog and with heritage organisations to promote more inclusive planning, programming, and development.

Collar & Cuffs is a sensory arts and heritage company, founded in 2016. The company has gained multiple awards for its inclusive sensory theatre, which has toured widely across the UK. They have brought their innovative performances to various venues including theatres, festivals, parks, gardens, libraries, and even private living rooms.

A key aspect of Collar & Cuffs' ethos is the use of Makaton signing in all their work, reflecting their commitment to accessibility and communication. Their core values emphasise inclusion, connection, and wellbeing, making their work a beacon of sensory accessibility and empathy in the arts and heritage sectors.


Thisprojectaims to create an audio-visual collection of stories to preserve and showcase the linguistic diversity of Bedford. Community members and schools will participate in sharing stories and documenting words in various languages found around the town. The initiative highlights underrepresented languages, raises cultural awareness, and fosters pride in linguistic heritage. Facilitated conversations, workshops, and field trips will culminate in a public exhibition and digital collection, promoting inclusivity and appreciation of Bedford's wealth of languages.

Over the past nine years, Desiree Bashi has written and illustrated three self-published books and has exhibited her own oil and watercolour artwork throughout the UK. She has contributed to literature surrounding underrepresented languages, performed and choreographed Classical Indian dance pieces, and her vision is to inspire others to combine art, dance, and languages in holistic way.

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