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Culture Syndicates shortlisted for the East Midlands Heritage Awards for empowering local WW1 researchers

Culture Syndicates shortlisted for the East Midlands Heritage Awards for empowering local WW1 researchers

Culture Syndicates are delighted to announce that the Life Lines project has been recognised for its innovative volunteering model under the Volunteer Empowerment category for the East Midlands Heritage Awards. Last year, Culture Syndicates were awarded £10,000 by Heritage Lottery Fund’s WW1 Then and Now scheme. This project empowered amateur researchers to create a handling box to enable teenagers to discuss local WW1 history in comparison to contemporary life. Themes include relationships, censorship, human rights and the social impact of war. The University of Nottingham lend these boxes to schools free of charge.

The Life Lines group was established to research their WW1 family history in 2013. They chose to write a book showcasing their family research and personal collections. This has been donated to all local studies libraries in Nottinghamshire. With the expertise of the team at Culture Syndicates, the volunteer group were empowered to take this research further. It became clear that the next step was that the group wanted to engage young people with history, enabling inter-generational understanding.

Based on these stories of their ancestors and in collaboration with a local artist, Life Lines created sensory handling boxes. The boxes contained many exciting elements: all objects were originals or replicas. The University of Nottingham’s Manuscripts and Special Collections provided material, including a life-like copy of one of the researchers’ grandfather’s diary. His grandfather never spoke of the war, so revealing the facsimile was a heartfelt moment for the team.

One story that captured the imagination of the pupils was that of Fanny Taylor, a ‘canary girl’ who tragically died in the explosion at Chilwell bomb factory where she worked.

Fanny’s box contained smells from the factory, a jam tin bomb and a real, diffused WW1 shell. This tangible connection with the past provided pupils with a unique opportunity to explore their local history in a different way.

This project has inspired the Life Lines group to carry on their historical research and work. They will hold an open day and exhibition of the boxes at Nottingham Lakeside Arts on Sunday 29th October. This will be an opportunity for the public to come and handle the exciting objects, and to talk to the group about their research.

The East Midlands Heritage Awards will be held on the Thursday 9th November.

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