At the AGM of the Dorset Museums Association held on 24 November Chris Stupples of Shaftesbury was honoured as one of the Dorset Museums Volunteers of the Year. Chris was nominated by both Shaftesbury Abbey and Gold Hill Museums, and received his award at the newly-opened Steve Etches Collection, a remarkable display of marine fossils at Kimmeridge. Chris has been a prime contributor to Gold Hill Museum’s Heritage Lottery Funded Shaftesbury and the Great War Community Project. From 22 War Memorials in the Shaftesbury area he has researched the backgrounds of 377 named individuals, 111 of whom have no known grave – 7 still remain elusive, perhaps because of discrepancies in military records. Claire Ryley (left) and Ann Symons gave a well-received presentation to their Dorset Museums colleagues on the growth of the volunteer-driven Project, which currently involves 190 local people and plans to make its findings generally accessible through the launch of a website in the spring of 2017.
A moving commemorative event organised on Saturday 12 November by volunteers of the Gold Hill Museum Shaftesbury and the Great War Community Project attracted over 130 people to St James Church. Against a background of images recorded during the Heritage Lottery Funded Project, relatives of World War One participants, Shaftesbury School students, and the Community Choir contributed readings and choral items, with music played by Heather Blake. Researcher Chris Stupples, at the lectern above, presented a roll of honour, held aloft by Project leaders Ann Symons and Claire Ryley, listing the histories of every individual on the St James War Memorial. The two minute silence was accompanied by the Last Post and Reveille played by Sharon Hawkes, and followed by afternoon tea. A retiring collection raised £380 to be shared between St James Church Refurbishment Fund and The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.