THE LEGACY OF ROALD DAHL

The Roald Dahl mu­seum and Story Cen­tre re­cently cel­e­brated its 10th an­niver­sary. TOM HERBERT takes a look at the au­thor’s on­go­ing legacy in the vil­lage he called home, Great Mis­senden

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE -

ROALD Dahl would turn 100 next year and peo­ple up and down the coun­try will be cel­e­brat­ing what would have been his cen­te­nary.

Born in Cardiff, he moved across the At­lantic to live in Man­hat­tan, tan, New York be­fore set­tling in Greatreat Mis­senden for 36 years un­til his death in 1990.

Af­ter his pass­ing the com­mu­nity, led by his wife Liccy, ral­lied round to sup­port t the legacy of one of the vil­lage’s most fa­mous cit­i­zens and af­ter years of fundrais­ing opened the Roald Dahl Mu­se­u­mum and Story Cen­tre in the High Street in 2005.

It is a place where a col­lec­tion tion of his manuscripts, pho­to­graphs and letters all come to­gether un­der er one roof and peo­ple from all over the world come to the mu­seum to see the legacy of one of the most fa­mous chil­dren’s au­thors ever.

His wife still lives in the house and the hut that he used to write in at the bot­tom of his gar­den is still there where, ac­cord­ing to leg­end, he only ever used a pen­cil and yel­low pa­per.

Some of his most fa­mous char­ac­ters and places were based on his life in Great Mis­senden - the BFG was al­legedly based on a re­ally tall man who lived in Mis­senden, the li­brary Matilda vis­ited was based on Mis­senden li­brary and the wood­land in Danny and the Cham­pion of the World was based on Phasels Wood near Che­sham.

The mu­seum cel­e­brated its 10th an­niver­sary re­cently, throw­ing a huge party to celebrate and had some of his most fa­mous cre­ations brought to life, char­ac­ters as mem­o­rable as Miss Trunch­bull and Bruce Bogtrot­ter.

Dis­trict coun­cil­lor Seb Berry says hav­ing the mu­seum in your vil­lage is some­thing to be im­mensely proud of.

“The mu­seum has been a hugely pos­i­tive ad­di­tion to the vil­lage since it opened,” said Mr Berry. “It’s no­tice­ably in­creas­ing the num­ber of visi­tors to the vil­lage, which is a good thing for the lo­cal econ­omy and the suc­cess of high street busi­nesses, and I will be work­ing closely with the new di­rec­tor in their plans for their cel­e­bra­tions next year.”

Mr Berry was keen to stress the pos­i­tive im­pact the mu­seum has had on lo­cal tourism, with ‘70,000 peo­ple vis­it­ing the vil­lage ev­ery year, many of whom oth­er­wise wouldn’t have come here’.

He also said that to have such an in­ter­na­tion­ally fa­mous and much loved au­thor have so many ties in your vil­lage is re­mark­able.

Mr Berry said: “The Dahl ef­fect on the whole vil­lage has been ex­tremely pos­i­tive.”

He added: “Clearly it’s spe­cial that lo­cal chil­dren are grow­ing up in a vil­lage en­vi­ron­ment where they have got this very good na­tion­ally ac­claimed fa­cil­ity right on their doorstep, so that’s a very pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on lo­cal chil­dren and schools as well.”

Ayles­bury Vale Dis­trict Coun­cil re­cently cel­e­brated its own Roald Dahl fes­ti­val.

An­gela Macpher­son, cab­i­net mem­ber for leisure, com­mu­ni­ties and civic ameni­ties said: “We’re right to be proud of Roald Dahl’s links with this area, and to have found such a won­der­ful way to celebrate his words. As well as a fun day out for Vale fam­i­lies, it also en­cour­ages chil­dren to dis­cover Roald Dahl’s books for them­selves, and hope­fully start a life­long love of read­ing.”

The mu­seum in Great Mis­senden wel­comes thou­sands of visi­tors a year giv­ing an in­sight into the won­der­ful world of Roald Dahl, inset, and his char­ac­ters such as Willy Wonka from Char­lies and the Cho­co­late Fac­tory as il­lus­trated by Quentin Blake, be­low

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