I would like to begin by remembering three of our members who have died this year; all of whom were familiar faces at our meetings. Christine Schofield who was an active participant in our Hill Fort project. Keith Hampson, a keen local researcher and Wendy Pedlar who continued to support our activities, despite debilitating illness, even providing refreshments for our Christmas celebrations that she was too unwell to attend. We shall miss them all. Our sympathies are extended to their families. Please could we take some moments to think of their contributions to our society and life in the parish.
This year we have built on the foundations of our first successful year. We have maintained our membership level around the fifty mark. Eighteen live outside Buckland Brewer and include those in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. We have had a variety of excellent and interesting speakers, many from within our own membership. Attendance at monthly meetings is usually around twenty. We have also held several workshops to assist with our various projects. Three very successful summer outings took place. We have been fortunate to receive another grant from Bideford Bridge Trust this year and this will enable us to purchase our own projection equipment so that we do not have to rely on borrowing from others.
Four newsletters have been produced. These are now in colour and some issues have crept over the 12 page minimum length. More newsletter material is always welcome. Our website continues to develop and be well used. New sections include a virtual museum and biographies of parish residents; contributions to these sections are encouraged. We have also begun to upload an index to our photograph collection and newsletters over two years old can now be downloaded from the site. Over 7000 visits to the website have been made this year. Most of the viewers are in the UK but there are also significant numbers from Australia, Canada, USA and New Zealand. The most popular pages are those with our gravestone transcriptions.
We have a profile on a national scale and are viewed as a forward thinking and innovative society. An article about our activities appeared in Local History News, the magazine of the British Association for Local History. We entered the Community Archives and Heritage Group competition for the best new society. Sadly we were not amongst the prize winners but the competition included groups that had been heavily supported by lottery funds and were employing professional web-designers and project workers. Feedback was very encouraging.
Our particular strength and ‘unique selling point’ is the active involvement of so many members and our links with other organisations and the community as a whole. We can rightly be proud of what we have achieved in this respect and we shall work to see that this aspect of our work is continued and enhanced.
This year we have:
- Mounted a display at the Christmas Craft Fair
- Mounted a display at the Village Plant Sale
- Sponsored a class at the Village Fete
- Helped with the production of the re-published and updated history of Thornhillhead Chapel
- Hosted a visit from Torrington History Group
- Worked with the WI to create a scrapbook of life in Buckland Brewer in 2015, to replicate the one that was done in 1965. This is now nearing completion.
Our own completed, ongoing and new projects include:
- The hill fort survey, which was concluded successfully early in the year.
- The publication of a new edition of Rogers’ parish history, with a clearer typeface and different illustrations.
- Work on the biographies of 81 Buckland servicemen of world war one continues and most of the men have now been claimed for investigation by members all over the world.
- Oral history recordings are ongoing and are concentrating on aspects of the agricultural history of our parish.
- The mapping project is progressing under the guidance of Tony Gist, to whom we are very grateful. LIDAR images of many parts of the parish have now been scrutinised and significant features have been highlighted.
We are now concentrating our efforts on producing an agricultural history of the parish and creating a ‘Village Trail’, highlighting historical features,
I would like to thank the committee for all their hard work. I have made life more difficult for them this year by disappearing at regular intervals but I knew I could rely on them implicitly. This is not a society where some committee members turn up to meetings, nod and then do nothing. Every member works hard, bringing their own particular expertise to the table. I would also like to thank the membership; those of you who have helped and supported us in any way, by taking part in projects, contributing to the newsletter, attending meetings or paying a subscription.
Janet Few 2015