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O-12 Hospice heritage stories: making every memory matter
  1. Sarah Beer
  1. St Helena Hospice, Colchester, UK


Background As we approached a key anniversary, we found our timeline lacked real people’s stories of our hospice’s origin. The number of surviving founders was dwindling so we risked losing first-hand accounts. We also respected the value of our current stories. We applied successfully to The National Lottery Heritage Fund to support the project.

Aims Preservation of our hospice heritage through recording memories of people involved from its inception in 1979 to the Royal opening of our day centre in 1988, and to add to historical research of the hospice movement. By sharing past and present stories throughout the project, and curating the collection for an online archive, an exhibition at the hospice, and a mobile exhibition including to local areas of deprivation; we are aiming to engage, educate, inspire, and dispel fear about hospice care. Aimed to record 20 heritage stories and 15 stories of current patients, families, staff and volunteers.

Methods Conduct and record oral history interviews digitise images and VHS film footage; use digital and traditional media to invite reminiscence and share stories; build heritage area on website; present the heritage stories through exhibition; deposit oral histories with records office.

Results Currently in the last stages of the project, preparing the collection for: online and physical exhibitions; book of heritage stories; podcast series; repository. Throughout the project social media engagement with our heritage stories is showing that we are inspiring pride in our heritage; opportunity for reminiscence; inclusive access for different audiences. Recorded 21 heritage and 30+ current stories. Data from digital analytics, exhibition visitor numbers and feedback will be collected for evaluation.

Conclusions Heritage and current stories are generating positive hospice public relations and marketing opportunities; preserving memories before they are lost to benefit wider historical research of the hospice movement; giving people a voice.

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