This month saw the Centenary of the start of WWI, and I became involved with a commemoration project created by two local men; Paul Young, an illustrator, and member of Prestatyn Living History Society – and Jerry Bone, local WWI historian and collector, who I met when I started researching for Flintshire War Memorials.
A group of us spent twelve days transforming an empty shop – building a trench and dugout area, then setting up the rest of the shop as a museum, filled with some of the vast collection of WWI memorabilia that Jerry has amassed over the last twenty five years.
Over the course of three days, more than one thousand people came to view the exhibition, and we raised £1105.89 for the local War Memorial Restoration Fund. There was great feedback from everyone who came, and it was a brilliant weekend – we got to hear lots of wonderful stories that people shared with us, of family members who went to war, and I helped with research for people who didn’t have a lot of information.
We ended the weekend with Lights Out. Everyone who had been involved with the project sat in the dugout with just one flickering candle, it was a sombre moment of reflection, and a sense of pride and satisfaction at what had been achieved.
I would like to thank the people and organisations that provided educational resources for us to use and distribute to people that visited the exhibition:
- Thomas Walker at Historic Newspapers sent some wonderful booklets, packed with interesting and informative newspaper articles from the time of WWI – he also has many great resources available for download on his website.
- SGM Lifewords sent one hundred of their replica WWI bibles – these are copies of the bibles that every soldier was given when being sent to the front line. They are beautiful and poignant little things and my son enjoyed handing these out and explaining all about them.
- We also received leaflets from CWGC and the War Memorials Trust.
A couple of weeks later, we took part in the BBC WWI At Home event, held in Rhyl Events Arena. It was a really busy day, with lots of interesting things to see and do, and topped off with a great airshow display.