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International Students Gain Writing Inspiration From Chatsworth House

A book of personal stories by Lexis students at Derby College Group (DCG) inspired by Chatsworth House has been published as part of Derby Book Festival’s Shared Writing project.

The students, aged 16 to 18, are recent arrivals to the UK from 16 different countries and are learning English, maths and digital skills at DCG.

They were invited to tour Chatsworth House and then write about memories of their home or heritage that a certain element or artefact in the house and gardens evoked.

The visit was captured by Photography students from the University of Derby whose work is included in the book alongside illustrations inspired by the stories which were created by Art & Design students from DCG’s Joseph Wright Centre.

DCG’s Lexis team manager Andrew Parfitt explained: “This collection of short stories entitled ‘Chatsworth & Me’ is the seventh project by Lexis students as part of the Derby Book Festival.

“The previous books have included stories about the students’ journeys to the UK, snippets from their home countries and other tales reflecting the global diversity shared by students who come from over 20 different countries and who are now continuing their education with us.

“We are incredibly proud of the work that they have done and the book is made splendid by the creative illustrations that Art & Design students have produced following insightful discussions with the writers.

“The book has been professionally designed and printed and is now on sale as part of the Derby Book Festival, along with copies of previous books from the past seven years.”

‘Chatsworth & Me’, designed by Derby-based BurnTheBook and produced with the support of Foundation Derbyshire, was officially launched at a Derby Book Festival event at The Roundhouse.

Derby Book Festival co-founder Jenny Denton Co-Founder and trustee Sue Wall presented all the students involved with a copy and some were invited to the stage to talk about their stories.

They included Nimrod Hidrom from Eritrea (pictured) who was inspired by the chapel at Chatsworth to write about his desire as a child to be a priest and his memories of going to church in his home country.

“I was going to church three or four days a week before I left Eritrea. It taught me a lot of things – to help, respect and pray.

“I wanted to be a priest which is not easy in Eritrea, especially in the Catholic Church because priests can’t marry.  I am the only boy in my family so my mother wouldn’t agree.”

The grand dining room inspired Mario Niculescu to write about family meals in his home in Romania. 

He said: “We all have a happy place to think about when the world is bad.  My happy place is the dining room at home where my mother made me the best cake in the universe, where I talked to my father about football matches and where I grew up.”

The library at Chatsworth resonated with Gabriela Anca Rusu, who has come to Derby from Romania: “The library at Chatsworth reminds me of why I started reading. 

“Although the library at Chatsworth is huge, at home my father built a small room so I could spend time with my books which were my friends.”

Her story entitled ‘Inner Peace’ was illustrated by Art Foundation student Scarlet Fewtrell who told the audience: “This was an amazing opportunity to work on a live project with a brief and a deadline – bringing stories to life through illustrations.

“Sometimes you don’t need language to understand how people are feeling – you can communicate through the creative process.”

Jenny Denton concluded: “This has been another amazing Shared Writing Project as part of Derby Book Festival and we are very grateful to everyone involved.

“The book is beautiful and a unique chance to discover the beauty of Chatsworth House through the touching stories, imaginative illustrations and charming photographs.”

For more information and to buy a copy of ‘Chatsworth & Me’ visit

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