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Volunteers needed for Melksham Remembers community project

MELKSHAM Remembers is looking for volunteers to help with the project to create a First World War-themed heritage trail and exhibition for Melksham and surrounding villages.

Project coordinator, Beth Thomas  said, “Melksham Remembers would love to hear from you if you think you might like to get involved. No experience is necessary as training will be given. The team is particularly keen to hear from volunteers from the parishes of Atworth, Bulkington, Great Hinton, Keevil, Semington and Steeple Ashton.

The Melksham Remembers project will explore the role and contribution of the community to the war effort on the ‘home front’ in 1914 to 1918, as well as finding out more about the impact that the First World War had on the area. The project will run until November 2018.

“Since its launch in the autumn, the Melksham Remembers project has recruited around 10 volunteers to help research what life was like on the home front in the Melksham area.

“The volunteers met for the first time in November for an induction at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre in Chippenham. Claire Skinner, principal archivist, introduced the volunteers to the amazing collection that is held in the county archive. Records at the history centre include school log books that head teachers completed each day with notable events and record activities such as collecting acorns to be sent to Dorset to the cordite factory to make explosives.

“There are also records of various committees with responsibility for different aspects of life on the home front such as the deployment of Land Girls. The history centre also has newspapers which record the important events in the area at the time.

“The project also held a successful drop-in session at Melksham Library in November and learned about some interesting family histories including a lady who worked at the Sawtell’s factory and a young farmer sent to war from Seend who died of his injuries just short of his 21st birthday, leaving his family desolated. If you have a family story about the First World War, the Melksham Remembers team would love to hear from you.

“The Melksham Remembers volunteers will be meeting monthly to share updates and swap stories as they try to build up a picture of what life was like in the First World War for the inhabitants of Melksham and the surrounding area. These stories will be selected for an exhibition planned for November 2018 to commemorate the ending of the First World War on the 11th hour of the 11th month in 1918. Their next meeting is next week on Saturday 13th January.”

If you would like to volunteer for the project or share your story with the team, email hello@melk shamremembers.org.uk or telephone 01225 685 426 and leave a message for Beth Thomas, the project coordinator.

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