Over the past year, I have been researching and trialling a number of Reminiscence sessions as part of making the Museum more age friendly. Four sessions have now been delivered to memory groups and care homes in Chippenham, Royal Wootton Bassett and Calne.
The most recent of these took place at the Chippenham Memory Café which is run by the Alzheimer’s Society. Walking in with my box of objects, I was thrilled to see so many people had turned up.
The session, titled ‘Craftsman of the Army’, talks groups through what REME do and the different trades which make up the Corps, but also has a practical element of handling Museum objects. It is the perfect introduction to REME and allows ex-members of the Corps to reminisce about their time in the Corps. It was a wonderful surprise to see two ex-REMEs in the audience, an ex-Radar Technician and an ex-Vehicle Mechanic.
The group was very enthusiastic about handling the various objects I passed around including a Battledress jacket, cap badges, large Churchill tank spanner and reproduction photographs from the Archives.
After packing away the last object, I turned around to see the ex-Vehicle Mechanic on his feet. He started to share his memories of changing engines in the dark and cold, saying that they were great years of his life.
It’s hard to quantify the worth of these sessions but my final conversation confirmed the impact that they can have. A lady who sat at the back and remained silent throughout was upset by the memories that were sparked from the topic. I went over to comfort her, feeling bad that she had perhaps not enjoyed the session. She assured me otherwise by pointing to her red poppy pinned to her jumper and saying “We will remember them”.
Juliet Turk – Assistant Curator