Part of the Sound Collection held at the Archive Centre

Thanks to funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Leonard Cheshire Archive is set to digitise hundreds of sound recordings, some of which date back to 1950 and cover the impact of the Second World War, the disability movement in the UK and the development of disability charities globally. The project is running from 2019 to 2021.

The need to digitise the sound collection is an urgent one. Tapes within the collection are at serious risk of decay due to their fragile nature. Without this project, there is a possibility that the tapes may become unplayable, meaning the hidden but important histories they have captured could be lost forever.

The history contained in the sound collection includes Group Captain Cheshire’s wartime experiences, the development of the charity Leonard Cheshire, and a general history of the disability movement within the UK and internationally. The recordings range from Leonard Cheshire’s experience of being an observer at the 1945 bombing of Nagasaki to oral history interviews with residents and staff at Leonard Cheshire Homes from the 1950s onward.

Colin Hyde, from East Midlands Oral History Archive said:

‘If the subject were just Leonard Cheshire’s wartime experiences then it would be interesting enough, but the longer story of seven decades of support for disabled people and all this has entailed is remarkable.’

Anne Jenkins, Director, England: Midlands & East, The National Lottery Heritage Fund said:

‘These sound archives provide an important insight into the history of the disability movement in the UK.

We are proud that National Lottery funding will safeguard them for the future, and that they can be shared for generations to come who can continue their legacy.’

Resonate will undertake four main areas of work over 18 months;

• digitising, transcribing and interpreting of the sound collection.
• allowing the sound collection to be accessed online, such as through a volunteer led podcast.
• training volunteers so they will learn new skills and be engaged with heritage.
• hosting a community event to celebrate completion of the project.

The project intends to provide opportunities for service users, volunteers and staff to earn new skills and be engaged with heritage. They will be centrally involved in transcribing, editing, presenting and exhibiting the digitalised collections.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for the project, please see https://www.leonardcheshire.org/volunteering-opportunities/project-resonate-digital-volunteer

Michael Ruddy

Project Resonate Officer