Monday 16 September 2013

Lives Behind the Stones

With many thanks to the Heritage Lottery Team 

Several years ago I was fortunate enough to coordinate a Heritage Lottery funded project called Jewish Voices. It involved helping groups of local elderly people from Leicester's Jewish Community to record their memories. The work was fascinating but what made it extra special was that the memories, when gathered together into a book, told a story of demographic and social change in a provincial town during the 1940s and 50s. I hadn't expected the results to be so conclusive and I'm very proud of the book.

I recently submitted an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund [HLF] to run another project, very different but I'm hoping it'll produce just as exciting an outcome. Grant applications are long detailed affairs and I've spent far more hours than I care to count with my Deputy Project Leader, supported by a small but enthusiastic team, filling in forms and working out timetables and costs. It's been a long, nail-biting wait but...

*drum roll* 

Our application has now been approved by the HLF and so for the next year I'll be leading a team of volunteers as we record and catalogue all the headstones in Leicester's Jewish Cemetery. Part of the cemetery dates back to the early 1900s and is in a poor state of repair. We'll be recording all the inscriptions on the stones while they're still legible, creating a website for genealogical research, producing Interpretation Boards for visitors and, most excitingly of all, selecting a cross-section of names and conducting research at the local Records Office into the lives behind those names. This is why I've called the project 'Lives Behind the Stones'.

If you're local and you'd like to volunteer then let me know in the comments and I'll get in touch. Our volunteer list is growing and we're spending the next few weeks recruiting even more people [you can never have too many volunteers!] for one or all of the following:
  • digitally photographing headstones
  • inputting data onto a database
  • researching selected names [There will be a training session run by the Records Office for all those volunteering to do research.]

About the Heritage Lottery Fund  
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural tradition, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 35,000 projects with more than £5.3bn across the UK.