Seven year olds to reminisce for Swaffham Museum oral history project

Children as young as seven will be asked to reminisce about their lives as a museum prepares to launch phase two of a �50,000 project to preserve the voices and memories of Swaffham residents.

The two-year Within Living Memory project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, spent much of its first year recording older residents talking about the earlier decades of its 1930-2010 time span.

Tales have included an aircraft man's fears that GIs at RAF Marham would shoot CND protesters, and stunned workmen who mistook a carnival queen for royalty as she was chauffeur driven to Ashill Primary School.

The oral history project was set a target of recording 30 interviews, but soon found itself inundated and has already preserved the memories of more than 70 people, some regulars, who speak for anything between 20 minutes and two hours.

From September it will also take heart from its learning and access officer Sian Hogarth's belief that 'history is made every second of every day', and start capturing today's history directly from the youngsters who are making it.

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Children will be asked to talk about the games they play, the stories they tell and the food they eat, and even what has changes they have noticed in the course their short lives.

Ms Hogarth said: 'Seven year olds in primary school now will be of huge, huge interest to people in the future, and that's why we are collecting these so people in the future can listen to what school was like in the early 2000s, about students doing the Duke of Edinburgh Award when maybe the duke was dead for 50 years.

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'I would like to get children to understand that what we do every day is of consequence. Perhaps not world-shattering consequence, but of consequence because it's history in the making. You can take things for granted when you are a child. I would like to give people an awareness of history happening and appreciate it.'

The project is also using MP3 players to create a town trail so visitors can listen to Swaffham residents' first-hand memories of buildings and events at the actual places where they happened.

Ms Hogarth said: 'The people that have lived here, born and bred, have huge pride in their town and although they say to me that it has grown larger and the community spirit has been lost, I don't think it has really because it's still there in the older inhabitants, certainly.

'When you talk to the incomers the main thing that comes out is that Swaffham is a wonderful place to live and everyone is friendly and they can see it's got heritage and they are quite keen to learn about local history and the past.'

She hopes to work with school, youth organisations and parents to ensure young people's lives are reflected in the town's oral history. They can be recorded at home or at the museum. Contact or 01760 721230.

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