Sharing and saving Borders stories of WWI

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The museums, archives and library service at Scottish Borders Council is undertaking a two-year project to provide a unique and lasting record of the First World War and its legacy for the Borders.

‘Saving and Sharing the Borders experience: Scottish Borders Stories of World War One’ will document the region’s social and family heritage of this momentous period.

The project will also encourage local communities to support the armed forces in their local area and promote understanding and awareness of issues that affect them.

The two-year project started towards the end of the summer and will operate across the Borders. It is being funded by £33,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £21,000 from the Armed Forces Covenant.

A project officer has recently been appointed to take the work forward, who will also work as the Heart of Hawick Heritage Hub’s education and outreach officer.

Their role will be to organise and coordinate all aspects of the project, including liaising with local groups, hosting events and working with volunteers as well as contributing to the Heritage Hub’s programme of learning and outreach.

Councillor Vicky Davidson, SBC’s executive member for culture, sport, youth and communities, said: “This unique project will document the impact and significance of these turbulent years on our local and national heritage.

The generation who have a direct link with those who participated is getting older and this may be our last chance to capture their recollections.”

Material will be recorded in various formats including scans, photographs and sound recordings so that it can be made widely available and secured for future generations.

Councillor Davidson added: “A series of events will be held across the region over the next 18 months where visitors will be able to view materials from the museum, library and archive collections and also bring items from their own private records for sharing, discussion and copying.

“They will also be encouraged to get involved in the project through volunteering. This will give them the opportunity to learn new skills such as recording and cataloguing the material as well as researching and sharing stories about the First World War.”

Support for the project has been received from Councillor John Greenwell, SBC’s armed forces champion.

He said: “I am pleased that the Armed Forces Covenant funding scheme has helped this project come to fruition and look forward to visiting as many of the events being planned as possible. I would encourage anyone that has an interest in WW1 activities to attend and be part of continuing the important legacy that this conflict has for us all, whatever our age or background.

“This is an opportunity for us all to recognise the contribution made by individuals and families across the Borders, not least that played by the King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB). With combatants being drawn from all over the Borders and beyond, the KOSB comprised the pre-war regulars, the reserves mobilised in 1914 and later recruits.

“Perhaps the event of greatest significance was Gallipoli where the KOSB fought alongside British and Commonwealth troops in the disastrous Dardanelles Campaign, leaving a legacy that should be remembered and commemorated through projects like this one.”