Community project brings history to life

Organiser Sharon Woodward and Sadie King, 87, with memorabilia from the Down Memory Lane project

Organiser Sharon Woodward and Sadie King, 87, with memorabilia from the Down Memory Lane project

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by

FROM war rationing to stories of escaping Nazis, older residents in one community have been taking a welcome trip down memory lane.

Senior citizens at the Abingdon Wellbeing and Resource Centre have been sharing their stories, thanks to a Lottery-funded project.

All the stories from the Down Memory Lane project are being collected on film and for an exhibition at the centre on September 22.

Project co-ordinator and film maker Sharon Woodward said: “The people we are speaking to have had some quite amazing stories.

“This is all about capturing memories, people carry around quite incredible tales. And they are not just about the Second World War, there are so many great stories about growing up in the 1950s.”

The project was funded with £9,000 from the Lottery Fund.

Ms Woodward said: “One of our members was a child during the war in the Channel Islands. She remembered being told the Germans were likely to invade within two weeks and could remember getting on the boat. People were only allowed one suitcase.

“Stories like that just make you go ‘wow’. And that is why it is important we record them for the future.”

Members of the local community have also been getting involved.

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A Brownie group visited the centre last month, asking questions about the types of games children used to play, and singing wartime songs.

A film involving interviews with centre members entitled Ration and Fashion was also shown to pupils from the John Mason School.

Ms Woodward said: “This really brought history to life. The pupils asked a lot of questions of our senior citizens and then they baked cakes using only ingredients that would have been available during rationing.”

Ms Woodward said: “We’ve even talked about sex education, or the lack of it. I think it must have been quite scary meeting boys with absolutely no knowledge whatsoever.”

She added: “What is lovely is that a lot of the older people initially say they can’t remember much but then they start to think and they remember all kinds of wonderful things from their childhoods.”

Sadie King, 87, from Abingdon, has shared her memories with the group. She moved to England from Northern Ireland when she was 18.

She said: “I have really enjoyed taking part. My favourite memory has to be getting married to my second husband, Reg.”

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