Ryde Social Heritage Group research the social history of the citizens of Ryde, Isle of Wight. Documenting their lives, businesses and burial transcriptions.
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Living Links Event

On Tuesday 8 March Carol and I attended the event to celebrate the completion of the Living Links Project at the Discovery Centre in Winchester.

Richard Smout, the IW Heritage Service Manager, was our delightful host throughout the day and introduced all the speakers.

The day started at 10am with an introduction by Bryony Hatton, Community Archives Development Officer for the Hampshire Records Office. John Isherwood, Chairman of the Hampshire Archives Trust then gave a brief overview of the Living Links project, why it had been set up and what it hoped to achieve.

Next we saw the DVD produced to celebrate the whole of the Living Links project and in which both Ryde Social Heritage Group and the Freshwater and Totland Archive Group from the Island were featured among others. You can see the Living Links film here: http://www3.hants.gov.uk/archives/community-archives/living-links/ll-video2.htm

The first Group Spotlight presentation was on the Lower Test Valley Archaeological Study Group. Phoebe Merrick gave an excellent talk about the LTVASG, how they were formed and the work they do. Phoebe also gave some good tips to other groups on how, what and when to publish and some interesting insights about recruiting volunteers. http://www.romseynet.org.uk/ltvas.htm

The Coffee break gave us a chance to meet and talk to other groups and this was followed by two more Group spotlights.

The Penton Players an amateur dramatic group from the village of Penton Mewsey had written and performed a play about the history of their village called “Penton Muses” as one of the creative outputs of the Living Links project. It sounded like a lot of hard work went into producing the play, but it also sounded like it was a lot of fun and has certainly got the locals talking more about the Village history.

The next presentation was about the Gosport Edge Youth Group. The group interviewed people of different generations from Gosport and asked them what they did when they were young. A DVD was produced showing the results. You can view the film here; http://www3.hants.gov.uk/archives/community-archives/living-links/ll-video1.htm

We also learnt from the Youth Leader of the project how challenging it can be to engage young people with history. The ‘Old Days’ to young people today is the 1970s or even the 1980s!

At 12:00 we had an hour’s break for a buffet lunch and this gave us plenty of time to network and talk to other groups.

The first presentation after lunch was from the Hayling Island Sailing Club and we learnt that with support from Living Links the club had been able to collect, catalogue and display information about the history of the club which first started in 1921.

Next came the Keynote Speech from Jack Latimer the creative director of Community Websites. Jack gave us lots of information about useful websites and software to use and plenty of hints and tips of what to do and perhaps more importantly what not to do with websites.

We had another coffee break at 2pm and this was followed by the final group spotlight featuring Nepalese Help. Right from the start of the Living Links project I can remember speaking with the Community Archives Development Officer and she told me about wanting to work with a community of Nepalese people living in Hampshire. What we learnt from the presentation was that because of cultural and language differences it had actually been very difficult to complete this aim of the Living Links project. However recently a young bi-lingual Nepalese man had been recruited to assist. He explained that he too had had difficulty in explaining to his elders the importance of archives, they just could not understand why he wanted to have copies of their old photographs.

He persisted and eventually a couple of people from the community handed him some crumpled old photographs and said he could copy them. Not only did he copy them but he also cleaned them up, removing scratches and spots from the digital images. When he returned the photographs he also gave the donors copies of the cleaned up photos and they were delighted! He said he is now finding it much easier to get copies of old photographs and information from the group.

There will be a showcase of the photo and data gathered from the Nepalese Community in an exhibition in the near future. Hopefully we will be able to get the exhibition brought over the Island.

At the end of the presentations Richard led a discussion on the outcomes of the Living Links project. Everyone felt that the project had been hugely successful, it was felt that gatherings of different groups together such as this event could in future be beneficial to all.

Throughout the whole of the day, to the side of the stage, there was a young artist making a visual record of words and images from the day. She sketched out three large drawings which she said would be taken away and coloured in and completed and then copies distributed to the groups as a record of the day.

RSHG Display Visual Scribe’s sketch

Carol and I thoroughly enjoyed the day, hearing about the other groups, and getting to meet new people.

On behalf of Ryde Social Heritage Group I would like to thank everyone involved in the Living Links Project for all the help and support they gave to us and to others.

Janette Gregson
Ryde Social Heritage Group.
March 2011