A volunteer-led organisation in North Shields has been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
Remembering the Past collects people’s memories and stories about every aspect of life in North Tyneside, and is one of the longest-established digital archives of local history anywhere in the UK.
Dr Kath Smith, Lead Volunteer and Trustee at Remembering the Past, said: “Remembering the Past was established in 1997 and, since then, our tremendous team of volunteers has created an incredible catalogue of life in North Tyneside since the turn of the 20th century. Everyone has a story to share, and thanks to the team’s hard work and dedication, this collection of memories is safely archived and available online for anyone to access.
“It’s an absolute honour to receive The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and the whole team is thrilled at this recognition of the importance of capturing local history from the people who lived it, shining a light on the fascinating lives of ordinary people and communities.”
Remembering the Past is one of 241 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service recognises outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee and recipients are announced each year on 2 June, the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation.
Representatives of Remembering the Past will receive the award crystal and certificate from Susan Winfield OBE, Lord-Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear, later this summer. Two volunteers from Remembering the Past will also attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2022 (depending on restrictions at the time), along with other recipients of this year’s Award.
Remembering the Past is run by a team of 15 volunteers who record people’s memories, manage the digital archive, and run a programme of talks and events.
The volunteers work with contributors from all walks of life, ranging from school pupils to people receiving end of life care, and empower them to share their stories.
Linda, one of the volunteers who captures people’s memories through interviews and recordings, said: “I’ve really enjoyed talking to people and meeting people from all different stages of life and different age groups. I feel very privileged to be part of the team to capture these memories, I think it’s really important to capture them.”
Pam, a fellow volunteer, added: “You learn something new from every encounter. I do feel as if I’ve developed and learnt, and you can always learn more.”
Remembering the Past’s archive includes sound recordings, film, photographs and written memories about events ranging from the 1969 launch of the Esso Northumbria super-tanker from the Swan Hunter ship yard in Wallsend, to memories of World War II from the point of view of children, WAAF members, and a wartime bride.
As well as building and managing the digital archive of memories, the Remembering the Past team holds regular talks and events exploring aspects of local history and inviting people to share their personal recollections about life in the North East.
Remembering the Past’s archive of memories, as told by people who lived, worked and played, in North Tyneside since the turn of the 20th century, is available at www.rememberingthepast.co.uk.