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Creating a town memory archive of bygone days

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: March 23, 2014

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STORIES about life in Burton during the 1960s and 1970s are being collected from hospital patients, staff and volunteers as part of a new Heritage Lottery-funded project.

Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is working alongside East Staffordshire Borough Council in the Story Wells – Remembering Burton initiative.

As well as creating an archive of memories, it is also helping those suffering with dementia and those who like to reminisce.

Experienced storyteller Sally Tonge, is leading reminiscence sessions about bygone days and has been in to Burton’s Queen’s Hospital twice already to meet elderly patients on Ward 44 in the Geoffrey Hodges wing.

She has been talking to them about their memories of shops, pubs and workplaces in the town and also been leading sing-a-longs of 1960s songs.

She said: “I’m going to be returning to the hospital a number of times in the coming weeks to talk in more depth to some of the patients on a one-to-one basis.

“Some of the memories will be recorded on audio and the entire collection of memories will be archived on Staffordshire libraries.”

Sally is one of three storytellers who have been asked to gather memories in the town.

Unsurprisingly, there is a particular focus on stories about the rich, local brewing industry in the town.

In October there will be an exhibition at the town’s Brewhouse arts centre, off Union Street, where the three story tellers will perform some of the stories they have gathered and there will be pictures and audio from the project.

Julia Leese , senior sister on Ward 44, said: “We thought this would be a lovely project for the patients and staff to get involved with and it’s already helping both patients with dementia and those that don’t have the condition.

“Sally’s two visits have really brightened the day for everyone. Family members have been coming in and getting involved and it’s been great to hear the stories and reminiscences starting to flow.

“We’re all looking forward to seeing the final results in the autumn.”

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