People have a very different understanding of the term Oral History which vary from a very formal rehearsed account of the past to informal conversations about the halcyon days amongst family, friends and co-workers also recorded interviews with people deemed to have an important story to tell.
My understanding of the term is that every single person has THEIR story to tell – we are actually all important which may sound trite but it is true! How many times I wish I had spoken to my father about his experiences and then it was suddenly too late – his story vanished into the mists of time.
We learn from written stories but an oral history can actually represent the person giving their memory of their experiences. When that person is no longer around, it is our memory of them that keeps them alive in our minds.
This is partly the reason why I am passionate about capturing as many oral histories or to be more accurate have chats with people about their memories. My father only talked about the tests in the last two years of his life and it is the only time I have ever seen him cry.
Our Nuclear Test Veterans, widows and descendants have very important memories or experiences that should not fade away – they deserve to be shared with the next generation and beyond. School students should be aware of these stories.
The BNTVA is working to record the lasting impact created by the participation of British service personnel, AWRE scientists and civilians, in the British and American nuclear tests and clean-ups from 1952-1967.
The BNTVA Living Histories’ Project is wide reaching, and a major part of the BNTVA’s strategy over the next three years. Not only do we want to hear from those situated at the tests, but their wives, widows and descendants too. The sort of stories we are interested in include life and duties at the tests, experiences of witnessing a bomb blast and the effects of fallout, and how these experiences have impacted your life to date, if at all.
We would be grateful if wives, widows and descendants want to talk to us about the first time your loved one talked about participating in the tests, how they described events, and, in what ways, if any, that these experiences affected your life and experiences as a family. Did these experiences bond you as a unit, cause strain or have any other impact that you may wish to share?
On a charity basis, we would also like to make use of our chats as part of our virtual archive and this can obviously be done anonymously if that is your wish.
Please if you are a veteran, widow or descendant and are even vaguely interested, don’t hesitate to contact me either via firstname.lastname@example.org, via our social media pages or by telephoning me, Michelle Harding on 07591 833 856.