Details of events and workshops we are currently involved in are listed below:

The Lost Words Campaign


We’re losing nature as well as the names for nature - Robert MacFarlane

The Lost Words Book Cover

Let’s get Cambridgeshire children back to nature by getting a copy of The Lost Words book into every Primary School in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, as well as bespoke inspiring activities that creatively connect children with the outdoors.

Please support The Lost Words for Cambridgeshire campaign today. Every single donation will help.

Donate to the Campaign button

Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination (CCI) creatively connects children with their local landscapes through real and imaginary adventures. The Lost Words, written by Robert MacFarlane and illustrated by Jackie Morris, is a gorgeously illustrated book that conjures lost words and species back into our everyday lives. Together we want to (re)connect children with the wondrous free natural opportunities that exist on their doorsteps.

Why do we all need nature in our lives?

The Lost Words at Cambridge Literary Festival

Jackie Morris drawing the Otter

Otter by Jackie Morris

At the Cambridge Literary Festival, on the 14th April, Jackie Morris (illustrator of The Lost Words book) live-painted an otter, using Japanese ink and water drawn by Robert MacFarlane from the chalk springs at Nine Wells in south Cambridge. Robert hand-wrote the 'Otter Spell' from The Lost Words onto this too.

This artwork, created with wild water and sumi ink, pencil and gold leaf is unique. It is signed by both Jackie and Robert and has been auctioned, with all proceeds going to The Lost Words for Cambridgeshire campaign bidding has now closed.

Discover more about the creation of this artwork here in the comments section on Jackie's website

Posters of the painting are also available to order from the CCI shop. 

Follow this campaign: @CambridgeCandI | @RobGMacfarlane | @JackieMorrisArt #LostWords

I have lived in Cambridge for nearly 25 years now, and all three of my children have been to our local state primary school. Jackie and I have been moved and amazed over the past six months by the energy and generosity with which many people around the country have campaigned to get copies of The Lost Words into every primary school in their borough, county or country, in an effort to green the classrooms of our children. Now a campaign has come to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. I am so glad that it is happening, and grateful to those who are bringing it about, in the hope that it might help close the gap a little between childhood and nature in our region. Robert Macfarlane

Find out more about why we are running this campaign, the story of The Lost Words and Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination’s creative practice.

Why are we running this campaign?

We are running this campaign so that all Cambridgeshire children can benefit from Robert’s magical words, Jackie’s inspirational art and CCI’s expertise in creatively connecting children with nature. We all need nature in our lives.

The evidence about what happens to us, to our children, if we are not connecting with nature is alarming.  In addition to this, children’s freedoms, both physical and emotional are continuously being eroded. Troubling statistics are everywhere yet successive governments pursue ever-narrower policies. It is more critical than ever that we get this inspiring book and accompanying support into schools across our county:

  • ‘Nature deficit disorder’ is now a widely-used term and children’s roaming areas have decreased by 90% in the last 30 years.
  • 1 in ten children now suffer from mental health difficulties severe enough to require treatment – at least three children in every classroom.
  • The arts are rapidly becoming only for the most privileged with just 8% of the “wealthiest, whitest and most formally educated” proportion of the population making the greatest regular use of Arts Council funded organisations.
  • Access to arts and culture has significant social impact: people who take part in the arts are 38% more likely to report good health; and students from low-income families who engage in the arts at school are 20% more likely to vote as young adults, twice as likely to volunteer, and three times more likely to get a degree
  • New research commissioned by Fabian Think-tank talks of ‘deeply shocking landscape of diminishing arts provision in primary schools’ (2018)
  • Parts of the county are some of the worst in the UK for social mobility (Social Mobility Commission 2016) with Cambridge itself described as a ‘social mobility cold spot’
  • Cambridge identified as the least equal city in UK for second year in row (Centre for Cities 2018)

The story of The Lost Words

This magical book was created to celebrate and revive once-common “nature” words – from acorn and wren, to Conker and dandelion – dropped from the Oxford Junior Dictionary (and replaced by words like broadband and blog). It is a joyful celebration of nature words and the natural world they invoke. With acrostic spell-poems by award-winning writer Robert Macfarlane and hand-painted illustration by Jackie Morris, this enchanting book captures the magic of language and nature for all ages.  The book has been described as a "cultural phenomenon" by The Guardian, for the speed with which it and its ideas have taken root in classrooms and homes across Britain since its publication in October.

The Lost Words is a brilliant catalyst for new conversations with schools about these essentials rights and freedoms for children - to explore, to imagine, to be creative and to connect with their local landscapes. You can hear more about the story of The Lost Words here:

And you can hear Robert Macfarlane talking about these issues and The Lost Words here:

BBC News Night

What is CCI?

CCI are Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination. We creatively connect children with their local surroundings in order to develop:

  • children’s capabilities to care about themselves, each other and the world around them
  • curious citizens with powerful imaginations

We work to explore the rich landscape of wild imagination and to stop wild play rapidly fading from our children's minds. This affects everyone – our children, ourselves and the world we are living in. We can’t care for a world we are not connected to.

CCI is all about empowering and encouraging young people to express themselves and to explore. This is so important - that exploration of themselves and the world around them - as the citizens of the future.
Amanda Askham, Head of Transformation, Cambridgeshire County Council, October 2016

CCI has been working closely with schools across the region to open up spaces for imagination and curiosity, to connect people of all ages with all that is fantastical on their doorsteps and reignite their capacities to have ideas and act on them. Find out more about our Fantastical Cambridgeshire programme.

Donate to the Campaign button

The Power of Poetry


Date: Friday 8 June 2018

Time: 5.30pm-7.30pm

Tickets: £5 (this includes a free copy of Taking Note: poetry in moments)
Location: Lumen United Reformed Church & Community Centre URC, 88 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9RS

Taking Note Poetry in Moments Cover

CCI's Ruth Sapsed is delighted to be part of this Creative and Well-being Week event run by the London Art and Health Forum. It brings together a range of projects working with poetry and writing in health settings. We will also be sharing free copies of our Taking Note publication, just delivered from the printers. 

Alongside Taking Note: Poetry in Moments, there will be a chance to hear about Tea and Toast,  new anthology of poems created for new mothers having babies at University College Hospitals London. Designed to support new mums through the first year of motherhood, the anthology features 10 poems covering everything from breastfeeding, to judgy mums, birthing, poo and all the glorious bits in-between. We will hear from some of the poets contributing to the project including Anna Bosworth, Wendy French and Phosile Mashinkila.

The evening will conclude with a glass of wine and an opportunity to meet some of the writers.

To book click here

Fantastical bats and habitats


24 hour hours of creative wildlife surveying

Fantastical Offords Bat

Friday 22nd June 2pm – 5pm
Saturday 23rd June 11am – 2pm

Join us at Offord Primary School for free events with children, teachers, wildlife and local experts including:

Bat and wildlife walks, creative surveying, habitat making and dens, drawing and exploring and adventures in animation.

Plus lots of cake and tea!

Friday 22nd June

2.00pm until 5pm

  • Wildlife Bat walk
  • Tent of Sounds – night time wildlife soundscapes
  • Adventures in animation
  • Animal tracking
  • Takeaway games
  • Creative surveying with props boxes
  • Refreshments
  • Fantastical exhibition of children’s work

Saturday 23rd June

11am - 2.00pm

  • Fantastical wildlife surveying – a family wildlife walk
  • Adventures in animation
  • Big bug hotels
  • Giant wild village map – create new animal habitats
  • Bat chat – information about bats and their habitats
  • Wild art
  • ROOST – pop up café
  • Tent of Sounds – day time wildlife soundscapes
  • Den making
  • Bug watch – moth trap discoveries
  • Fantastical exhibition of children’s work

Fantastical Bats & Habitats Flyer

Taking note - poetry in moments


Three images from Addenbrooke's Hospital

How can poets and poetry touch the lives of this huge and diverse community?

What might poets and poetry prompt people to notice and share?  

These are questions explored by our Taking Note - poetry in moments project. Taking Note is all about curiosity and generosity. What moments of happiness can we notice and how can we share these with others?

Jo Shapcott (winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal, 2011, and the Costa Book Award, 2010) and Cambridge based poets Kaddy Benyon, Eve Lacey and Rebecca Watts spent the autumn of 2017 engaging with patients, visitors and staff at Cambridge University Hospitals. We are now working on a publication which will be available in the spring.

A series of eleven free postcards sharing poems were created for National Poetry Day in 2018 - every in-patient received one on their lunch tray and Costa handed them out to every customer too.

I just wanted to say how beautiful this is. Thankyou. More of this please. Sharon (visitor)

This has lifted me for a moment. I’ve spent most of my life inside and don’t really read poetry but I’m going to look at these when I get home. Jason (patient)

We are hugely grateful to the generosity of the poets who gave us permission to share their work in this way at no cost, particularly Jo Shapcott, Imtiaz Dharker, Carol Ann Duffy, Clive James, and Esther Morgan.

It's a  pleasure to be included in the Taking Note team at Addenbrooke's.  It's a project full of energy and light which speaks equally to the patient and poet in me and I hope will do the same for the wider Addenbrooke's community. Jo Shapcott

Updates on the project can be found here.

The project is supported in 2017 by Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust, Awards for All and the Cambridgeshire Community Fund.

Kaddy Benyon

Kaddy Benyon’s first collection Milk Fever won the Crashaw Prize and was published by Salt in 2012.  She is currently editing her second collection, written during a residency at The Polar Museum in Cambridge.  Kaddy is a Granta New Poet and has been highly commended in the Forward Prizes.

Eve Lacey

Eve Lacey works in a library in Cambridge. She is the editor of Furies, an anthology of contemporary women’s poetry (For Books’ Sake, 2014) and The Emma Press Anthology of the Sea (2016). Her writing is published by The Emma Press, The Next Review, SALT magazine, and Edinburgh University Press.

Jo Shapcott

Jo Shapcott was born in London. Poems from her three award-winning collections, Electroplating the Baby (1988), Phrase Book (1992) and My Life Asleep (1998) are gathered in a selected poems, Her Book (2000). She has won a number of literary prizes including the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Collection, the Forward Prize for Best Collection and the National Poetry Competition (twice). Tender Taxes, her versions of Rilke, was published in 2001. Her most recent collection, Of Mutability, was published in 2010 and won the Costa Book Award. In 2011 Jo Shapcott was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.

Rebecca Watts

Rebecca Watts’s debut poetry collection, The Met Office Advises Caution, was published by Carcanet in 2016. A Poetry Book Society Recommendation, it featured in the Guardian and Financial Times ‘Best Books of 2016’ lists and was also shortlisted for the 2017 Seamus Heaney Centre Prize. Rebecca lives in Cambridge, where she works in a library and as a freelance editor. Her website is

Many thanks also to poets Shaista Tayabali, Jane Monson and James Sheard who read with us on National Poetry Day (September 28th, 2017) day:

Image of Shaista Tayabali

Shaista Tayabali
I started writing poems as a child, not knowing that poetry would eventually guide me safely through the perils of lupus, the life threatening auto immune illness that awaited me. Pen to paper, a few lines here, three verses there, and poetry still pulls me out of danger, twenty years after I was first diagnosed. Addenbrooke's has been a second home to me since I was a teenager. I have suffered, cried and laughed on countless wards; art on the corridor walls, poetry and sculpture found in unexpected corners have always nourished me. I am honoured and excited to be part of Taking Note and Addenbrooke's Arts - my life is enriched by such projects. And the battle to survive this disease made easier.

Jane Monson

James Sheard


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