Share your stories of the Great War

Published on: 30 Jan 2014

AS we approach the centenary of the start of the First World War, people in the Downend area are being urged to share their stories.

Events are being planned for the anniversary later this year, including a family day in Page Park on August Bank Holiday Saturday and a two-day exhibition at the Royal British Legion in Staple Hill in October.

Organisers are asking people of all ages to offer tales from their family history and special efforts will be made to involve children in the project.

Madeleine Bills, of the Legion, said: “We are asking people to come forward with their stories, memories and memorabilia for our events. We'd love school children to create displays that we can put on show and we hope older students can get involved in helping us to make an audio and video record.”

Mrs Bills said the Page Park event would emphasise the spirit of 1914, with participants encouraged to dress in period costume. Old fashioned attractions such as swingboats are planned.

“Unfortunately, we can't go back to 1914 prices,” said Mrs Bills.

The October event will include a touring exhibition from the the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum, which charts the military and social history of the county's regiments and is also seeking lesser known stories of people's involvement with the conflict.

The museum is also involved with the national war memorial project, which aims to create a database of names on memorials across the country.

Downend has a historic place here, as it can boast the only Boy Scout War Memorial in the country. It was put up in 1021 in memory of members of the 1st Downend Scout Troop who died in the Great War.

Meanwhile, two researchers at the University of the West of England would like to know how your family's life was affected by the war.

They are collecting tales for the BBC’s World War One at Home project, which will be broadcast during 2014.

The aim is to look at the effect of the war on people in homes, churches, schools, streets and factories across the country.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council is funding the UWE Bristol researchers, Kent Fedorowich and Charles Booth, to work with broadcast journalists to source, select and showcase stories related to the First World War.

The local experiences will show the war’s impact on the regions and highlight links with broader national and international events and themes.

Charles said: “I would really encourage people who have an interest in public engagement and knowledge exchange to grasp this opportunity to make a difference as far as our understanding of the First World War is concerned.”

World War One at Home will feature 1,400 stories (100 from each of 11 BBC regions, and the three BBC Nations).

Stories can be sent to Kent.Fedorowich@uwe.ac.uk and Charles.Booth@uwe.ac.uk

The BBC has a dedicated website at www.bbc.co.uk/ww1 while the Bristol 2014 Facebook page contains a wealth of information about activities across the city.

You can contact Mrs Bills at Staple Hill Royal British Legion or call 0117 956 0805.

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