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The Sur­rey in the Great War ini­tia­tive aims to bring to­gether lo­cal peo­ple of all ages and back­grounds to dis­cover how the county was af­fected by WW1

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - ON THE RECORD -

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peo­ple who at­tended WDYTYA? Live at the NEC in Birm­ing­ham on

16-18 April The story of Sur­rey dur­ing the First World War is to be brought un­der the spot­light thanks to an am­bi­tious her­itage pro­ject.

Made pos­si­ble fol­low­ing a grant from the Her­itage Lot­tery Fund, ‘Sur­rey in the Great War: A County Re­mem­bers’ aims to bring to­gether peo­ple from across the county to learn more about the re­gion dur­ing one of the most tur­bu­lent pe­ri­ods in his­tory.

Of­fi­cially launch­ing in May, the Sur­rey County Coun­cil-led ini­tia­tive will see the cre­ation of a ded­i­cated on­line ‘hub’ for par­tic­i­pants to share re­search, plus books, news­let­ters, drama per­for­mances and pub­lic events over the course of the next four years.

While a wide va­ri­ety of top­ics will be cov­ered, the pro­ject will have a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on life on the home front, and how the war af­fected or­di­nary com­mu­ni­ties.

“We want to try to high­light the roles of those who dont don’t neces nec­es­sar­ily ap­pear in the of­fi­cial records,” Sur­rey Her­itage’s Phil Cooper told Who Do You Think You Are? Mag­a­zine. “This in­cludes chil­dren who were at school dur­ing the war years, as well as those re­garded as be­ing on the m mar­gins of so­ci­ety, such as con­sci­en­tious o ob­jec­tors.

“We want­wan to find out: What changed? What re­maine­dremai the same? How did peo­ple in Sur­rey cope withw the loss of loved ones?

“Also, we want to look at how the com­mu­nity c coped with the con­se­quences of the peo­ple who came back from the war with miss­ing limbs or men­tal ill­nesses.”

Par­tic­i­pants will be en­cour­aged to find the an­swers by tran­scrib­ing records, pho­tograph­ing memo­ri­als and even search­ing through cup­boards for di­aries that cap­ture the ex­pe­ri­ences of an­ces­tors dur­ing the con­flict.

En­sur­ing that res­i­dents of all ages and back­grounds can ben­e­fit, the team be­hind the ini­tia­tive will be work­ing di­rectly with lo­cal so­ci­eties and dis­abled groups, while young peo­ple will also have the op­por­tu­nity to earn cred­its for the Duke of Ed­in­burgh Award scheme through vol­un­teer­ing.

Al­though the cam­paign runs un­til Novem­ber 2018 and is cen­tred on the mod­ern county of Sur­rey, Mr Cooper said he hoped that the pro­ject web­site can act as a last­ing dig­i­tal re­source which can be used by re­searchers across the globe.

“Peo­ple from all over the world were start­ing to ar­rive in Sur­rey at the time, and they are also part of this story,” he ex­plained. “Bel­gian refugees came here just one month into the war, and we also have the old­est pur­pose-built mosque in the coun­try in Wok­ing, so the Mus­lim com­mu­nity was also a strong pres­ence and were very sup­port­ive of the war ef­fort.

“With Cana­dian and New Zealand sol­diers here as well, sud­denly this Sur­rey pro­ject be­comes global.”

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