Written by Melissa Read – volunteer
Royal & Derngate and Northampton Museum & Art Gallery’s First World War Family Day on 22 August was an event that set out to commemorate the history and heritage of the Northampton Borough during FWW. Set across the two venues the event provided a range of indoor and outdoor activities from object handling to war time games; community stalls from the Western Front Association, 78 Derngate, SAFFA, Friends of Abington Museum, The Family History Society, The Sikh Community Centre and many more. Each community stall presented their individual histories whilst sharing engaging facts and knowledge on the FWW. The Sikh Community stall, in particular, I found most fascinating as much of the information and history offered was new and unknown to me. I took it as an opportunity to learn about the FWW from a cultural background different to my own.
Over at the museum the exhibition ‘Shoe Maker Goes to War’ was open to the public throughout the day. The exhibition told the story of local people who served in the FWW but also looked to the lives of the people who stayed behind. It provided a great visual base of local knowledge complementing the day’s ongoing activities in remembrance of FWW. The event also had some fantastic street theatre, music and dances workshops available to the public. Activities such as these, whilst being engaging and fun for the family, gave the day a real sense of community spirit.
As a volunteer for the museum I was asked to help out during the day. I helped with providing directions to the public and worked as part of a large team to oversee the logistics and smooth operation of the day. I was also involved in the ‘behind the scenes’ preparation for the event. I contacted and liaised with local community groups in an attempt to gain their involvement and to make them aware of the event. Overall I found the experience enlightening and educational. I not only gained invaluable skills in working as part of a large team on a big scale event, but expanded my knowledge of the FWW and had a chance to meet with a range of different community groups local to Northampton. The event itself was a huge success with over 400 visitors on the day.
Coverage of the First World War Family Day can be found on our You Tube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjHtttLvY7k