Some visitors to the Archive Centre earlier in the year could be forgiven for thinking that the staff at the ARC had finally lost the plot as they were asked if they would like to help wrap uniforms, ties hats and flags in tissue paper and then in plastic and clearly label the result. This however was a serious project as we had to protect all these items from being eaten by bugs. Nearly 5,000 items wrapped into 2,000 parcels were then packed into a van and taken to Gressenhall Museum where they were frozen for a week. Even with outside help it took the staff many weary hours to wrap up the entire material collection. Their rest was short lived as when all the parcels came back to the ARC the plastic had to be wiped dry before being stored on the new racking shelves. The items are slowly being unwrapped and arranged in boxes. Again visitors were asked to help and the ARC disappeared under piles of discarded plastic. The younger visitors thought it was great fun but their help was greatly appreciated. Not all of the items have been unpacked as their arrangement and storage will take time. Some of us thought we would never be straight again but gradually order was restored and we can now move freely in the large room. It was certainly a novel way to spend our time but we could all see how important it was as quite a few of the items already showed signs of the damage which could be done by the bugs if they are not checked. This was a flag before the bugs had their party.
This year members of the Archive Centre were invited to help provide activities for the scouts and guides at Norjam. It was decided that the Camp Chief’s challenge would require a visit by the contestant to each sub camp to complete a task where this would be checked and signed off by the leader. The final test would take place in the Heritage Hub and a badge would then be presented.
This sounded like a good idea but I’m sure the participants did not realise how much work went on before the camp started. The sub camps were divided by eras and each test was based on things a scout or guide would be required to know during that time. The ARC staff provided the questions, helped by guides from the Senior Section and by the interns helping at the ARC. Information charts were made and cards were provided for the contestants to get signed.
The Hub held the final challenge for both the guides and scouts with the answers to be found on beautiful charts telling the history of each movement. The ARC were also offering a separate stand for the Tenderfoot Test. 700 people actually did the Chief’s Challenge and we were amazed at the number of adults who also took part. It was feared at one time that we would run out of badges as we did not realise how much the adults would enjoy it too. When the challenge was completed the badge was often presented by a Zulu warrior or a soldier of BP’s Regiment, much to the surprise of the recipient. (The warrior and soldier were ably played by a member of the ARC staff.
The Tenderfoot challenge attracted attention from the older guests as they searched the charts for answers. These brought back happy memories of their own earlier guiding days.
3,000 people visited the Hub and there were many congratulations from all taking part. Many suggested that we needed a bigger tent area next time and there was a suggestion that we make the Tenderfoot Test into a challenge and sell it to other units.
The whole week was really enjoyed by the ARC team who were exhausted but really pleased at how their efforts had been received for their first attempt.
We were approached by the leader of South Walsham Guides, Chris Bond, last spring to think of ways to encourage her girls to take an interest in World War One guiding, and what the girls did for the war effort. We offered them a day from camp at Hautbois to come and see if they were able to get up to speed with what Lady Baden Powell thought Guides could do to help.
The girls learnt about the Union Flag, how to make a hospital bed, how to tie their tie and use it for a sling, how to cook on a buddy burner and tin can, how to use calligraphy pens to write a postcard to the soldiers in France, how to dig the vegetables, and how to sing and stay cheerful even under difficulties, as well as being prepared to cope with unexpected emergencies.
We had a very memorable afternoon and evening. The girls dressed in WWI uniform (using their school uniforms) and then as they achieved various challenges, gained a tie, a belt, a hat and a lanyard for some.
Later on we went to the unit meeting to explain what was involved in the War Service Badge. This included learning how to tie a tramps hitch, roll bandages, etc.
The following weekend the girls visited the ARC whilst staying at Patteson Lodge to see what evidence we could find of South Walsham guiding in the early days… and the girls got very hooked when looking through old logbooks and using cross-referencing to find information. Researching to find treasure for sure, and what an amazing few documents we uncovered!
They discovered that there was a unit in their village back in the 1930s and they are doing more research to find out more about it.
The climax of this will be the production of a stage show Keep the Home Fires Burning on November 10 and 11, as part of the acknowledgment of the Centenary of the Armistice. It promises to be amazing!
On Monday the ARC had a fantastic visit from Mundesley & District SSAFAgettes (the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association). The group was formed in the hope of fundraising for the SSAFA organisation. Hence the SSAFAgettes were formed. So far the ladies have raised over £5000.00!
They came in and had a talk about the ARC and everything that it does, followed by a tour and an exploration of some of our wonderful treasures. This was followed up by a delicious afternoon tea, enjoyed by all!