Each week we take a look at what’s been going on with Norfolk’s Teaching Museum Trainees. Today we see Joe, trainee at the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum.
There are mixed emotions as I write what will be my final post on my last day as a trainee at the Regimental Museum. After working with Kate and the brilliant volunteers (Ray, Dolly, Elesha, Dickie, Patricia, Alison, Beryl, Dick, Sheila, Margaret and Glenis) for 11 months, I will be starting my new post in Museum Development tomorrow.
On the one hand, I will miss Kate and all of the volunteers here. I will miss the fantastic projects, exhibitions and the wonderful collection. It has been a privilege to work in this office, and it is what I have wanted to do for many years. Military History will remain my real passion, and it is with a heavy heart that I leave it all behind. On the other hand, I count myself as extremely lucky to have secured a post for the future, working with SHARE Museums East with a great bunch of people (and just down the corridor from the Regimental Office!) I am now faced with exciting new opportunities and challenges.
In my final few months I have helped to complete a full term-list for our Casualty Book project. The book lists 15,000 Norfolk soldiers who were wounded during the First World War. Our long-term project has been to codify these entries, researching correct names for wounds, hospitals and camps, and working out acronyms, before launching an online crowd-sourcing platform. I am happy to say that, as I write this, the next phase of the project is in motion. This work, which has been difficult at times, will hopefully enlighten thousands of people across the world, and become a unique source of research for First World War hospitals and wounds. Personally, if we can help even one researcher find out more about a relative, I’d say it has been worth it.
In early March I also helped to take down the Memorial Cottages exhibition at the Museum of Norwich: https://nmsteachingmuseum.wordpress.com/category/joe/. This was another emotional moment. Seeing the complete cycle of a temporary exhibition – from research to launch to take-down has been a fantastic experience (and a great learning curve). I will never forget the exhibition and its impact on those involved.
The First World War Blog is also up to date. Writing it has been a brilliant way to learn more about the Regiment and our collection. I have learned a great deal, and hope that they provide an interesting read; http://norfolkinworldwar1.org/tag/the-royal-norfolk-regimental-museum/. Working alongside other enthusiasts, and sharing what we have has been a real highlight of the year.
For me, the defining memory of the past 11 months at the Regimental Museum has been ‘the people’. This of course includes staff and volunteers, but also those that are no longer with us; the Norfolk man who kept a diary, the young Officer who wrote letters home, the disabled men who lived in a memorial cottage. Indeed, working with this unique collection has taught me a great deal about human spirit, and in-turn, myself and others. I am keen that the true stories of the First World War – not just those that are easy or simple to tell – should be the legacy of the centenary. To be a part of this, however small, has been an absolute privilege, and I will be truly sad to go…