Clare’s four-year project aims to keeps history of village alive
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A south Norfolk woman who is dyslexic and was told by teachers she would never achieve her dreams, has finished a four-year-long project writing about the village she grew up in to keep its history alive for generations to come.
Thirty-year-old Clare Andrews of Woodton, who still lives in village, carried out her research verbally by interviewing local residents, instead of reading volumes of information at the library which she finds difficult.
The result is a book about the people, buildings and history of Woodton, entitled Walking Down Memory Lane Tales of Woodton, which is split into nine chapters and includes contributions from more than 100 local people.
Miss Andrews said: 'I was doing my own family tree and when I finished that I wanted something else to do.
'There is a lady called Joyce Andrews who is in her 90s and she is always telling me tales about the village. I thought this is all going to be lost if someone doesn't jot it down. It started with her and just escalated.
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'I'm not a big reader so I haven't gone to the library or delved into the records, it has all been a bit of hearsay.
'Back in the 80s people used to tell me I wasn't dyslexic I was just lazy. They probably did me a favour because I have ended up doing a degree in childcare and education and now I have written this book. I keep looking at it and I can't believe it's my work.'
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Miss Andrews started researching and writing in May 2009 and sent out flyers to everyone in the village asking them if they would like to share their memories, past or present.
She visited residents' homes with her dictaphone, fitting visits around her job as a play specialist at the Quidenham branch of East Anglia's Children's Hospices, before returning home to write up their tales.
Miss Andrews said: 'There was a lot of chasing and phoning around but I never thought the book would be this big. Once people start talking it all comes flooding back to them.'
The book includes stories about farming and floods, Lord Nelson and the Woodton Lady, American soldiers parachuting into the village during the Second World War, the history behind the gravestone of a horse called April Shower, and the village's steam engine rally, which at its peak attracted 12,000 spectators.
Miss Andrews wrote the book with the support of her close friend and local children's author Nicola Baxter.
She said: 'I often put a whole string of words instead of one word when I'm writing and I put across my point twice. Nicola helped get my word count down and she was really good at picking up on things for me.'
Miss Andrews has had 200 copies of her book printed and 87 copies have already been reserved.
She will be launching her book at Woodton Village Hall on Sunday from 4pm to 6pm. Her book, which will usually cost £17.50, will be available for £15, and after the launch will also be available at Woodton Stores and Jarrolds in Norwich.
Anyone who would like to order a copy can contact Miss Andrews on 01508 482749.
She added: 'I've had a lot of comments from people about how glad they are that I have done it.
'It was an amazing journey that took me to new and unexpected places.'