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Of particular interest to the Friends is a report about one of the projects we have funded: Rebels in the Records, and the mention of Friends volunteering to help digitalise archive records.

Rebels in the Records

In support of education resources at Kew, FTNA agreed last year to fund a series of short films produced by students for audiences of their contemporaries. Using documents at the archives, they set out in July to tell the stories of unsung individuals who stood up to authority on matters of principle. Further pandemic disruption caused delays but last month the six completed films produced under the supervision of Nigel Kellaway were launched. Andrew Payne, head of the Education Department, said they demonstrated yet again how much creativity is inspired by the range and depth of collections at Kew; human stories are tucked away in every corner. He went on to say: “We couldn’t do it without the Friends.”

All six films can be seen on YouTube. As a keen storyteller myself, I was particularly impressed by two of them. The first is on Constance Markievicz, the Irish republican campaigner who became the first woman elected to Westminster.

The second features Samuel Sharpe, leader of the 1832 slave rebellion in Jamaica.

Friends volunteering

Mention has been made here before of the invaluable work done by Friends volunteering to help digitalise archive records, so it was gratifying to see this acknowledged in the form of an award to three of these unsung heroes involved in cataloguing 169 boxes of First World War medical records contained in the MH 106 series. As well as their hands-on labours since 2020, Peter and Dee Helmore and Gareth Keller suggested a means of streamlining and improving the work, as a result of which they recently received the Best Team prize in the London Volunteer Heritage Awards. Peter has spoken to me about the project, which is demanding on his time but brings the thrilling reward of discovery. The appreciation for such efforts demonstrated by staff at TNA is a reminder that we can serve our treasured institution in ways other than funding.