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Land of Hope ... and Glory

There are some pieces of music which are iconic, and for me that includes not just rock and pop but also the occasional piece of 'classical' music.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a classical buff ... I don't listen to a lot of what might be described as 'classical'  music, but I do enjoy the occasional iconic tune.

So I was interested when I discovered that On this Day - October 19th - in the year 1901, a piece of music which would become one of the most well-known in Great Britain at least, was performed in public for the first time.

The Pomp & Circumstance March No 1 is perhaps best known because it includes the tune which is the song Land of Hope and Glory. which is especially well known in the UK because it's a highlight of 'The Proms'. otherwise known as the 'BBC Proms' because the series of mostly classical concerts are shared with the world by that broadcaster. The march and the tune is traditionally also an integral part of the Last Night  of the Proms concert.

Edward elgarThis iconic piece of music is the creation of Sir Edward Elgar and many of his works are part of the British and international classical concert repertoire. Apart from the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, another of his best-known orchestral compositions and works is another favourite of mine -  the Enigma Variations - but he's also well known for concertos for violin and cello, and two symphonies. Elgar also composed choral works, including The Dream of Gerontius, chamber music and songs.

Elgar is often regarded as a typically 'English' composer but the most interesting thing I've learned about him is that his musical influences came not from Britain but from continental Europe. He also felt like an outsider including musically - this was a time when music was dominated pretty much by academics and Elgar was a self-taught composer. Now THAT'S astonishing!

Socially Elgar also felt out of place.  He was a Roman Catholic in a largely Protestant Britain, and as a result some people were suspicious of him. He was from humble origins but lived in a very class conscious society in Victorian and then Edwardian Britain. He apparently was sensitive about his beginnings even after he gained recognition.

And another interesting point about Elgar - his major success didn't come until he was in his 40's ... 

That's encouraging I think ... it's never too late!

Just a note about the Pomp And Circumstance Marches - full title Pomp and Circumstance Military Marches. Although No. 1 In D and March No. 2 premiered today in 1901, actually they are a series of five (or six) marches for orchestra. The first four were published between 1901 and 1907, when Elgar was in his forties, but the fifth was published in 1930, a few years before his death and a sixth march was compiled after his death, from unpublished sketches. This was published in 1956 and in 2005–2006.

But back to Marches No 1 and 2. Both compositions were played two days after the premiere in Liverpool, at a Promenade Concert - a 'Prom'  - in the Queen's Hall in London. It was  conducted by Sir Henry Wood, who is synonymous with the annual promenade concerts. Wood actually conducted The Proms for nearly half a century and introduced  hundreds of new works to British audiences, and after his death in 1944 the concerts were officially renamed in his honour as the "Henry Wood Promenade Concerts".  In 1901 he conducted Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1  second, after March No 2, and Wood later recalled that the audience  "...rose and yelled... the one and only time in the history of the Promenade concerts that an orchestral item was accorded a double encore." (Henry Wood, My Life of Music p. 154)

And a final point before I leave you and you can enjoy this presentation of the iconic piece ...  The piece now known as Land of Hope and Glory in its original form was just a tune.

It was a big hit, including with the new British monarch - King Edward VII - who happened to mention to Elgar that he thought his March No 1 tune would make a great song. So when the composer was asked  to write a work for the King's coronation, he worked the suggestion into his Coronation Ode, with words written  by the poet and essayist A. C. Benson. Unfortunately the coronation was postponed because the king was unwell, so Elgar created a separate song, which was first performed by Madame Clara Butt in June 1902. And part of that original work - the first of the seven stanzas of the Ode's original final section - is now a feature of the Last Night of the Proms, and has become an English sporting anthem and a  general patriotic song.

Final thoughts on all this - apart from the fact that some people are just brilliant Elgar teaches me that sometimes we have to wait for things to happen for us. And sometimes what we create turns into something more wonderful than we might ever have imagined or dreamed.

How wonderful!

 

 


Celebrating Kindness!

Today in Jersey in the Channel Islands we will celebrate Kindness!

Kindness Festival Sept 2021It's the fourth biennial Jersey Kindness Festival - previous events happened in 2015, 2017 and 2019 - and it's a celebration of all the people here in our lovely island who live lives of kindness. Simple really.

At the beautiful harbourside in the village of St Aubin around 30 charities will set up stall to show off what they do, to chat to people, to have fun, and to show how every day their acts of kindness are making a difference to those living in our island and to the world.

Each of the charities has been tasked with bringing something fun to the party - so there are competitions and face-painting, arts and crafts, sculpting, yoga, hand reflexology and lots of conversations to be had.

It'll be educational as well. There's a chance to walk through a giant inflatable bowel - yes, you heard right - and to see how a specially adapted car works for disabled people.

And, one of the most favourite fun things to do, I'm sure, will be free pats with a Therapy Dog.

In the St Brelade's Parish Hall which is also on the harbourside there's an Affordable Art Show, with all the proceeds of sales going to the charities involved in the Kindness Festival.

Because of the COVID19 pandemic, lockdowns and restrictions, for the charities taking part, this will be the first time many of them will have had a chance to meet the public face-to-face and there will be loads of smiles all round.

Now, you might be wondering why I know so much about this event.

Well, it's because over the past few months I've been helping the organiser, Brian Clarke, to promote the event. And I shall be there, in the sunshine, to help out!

As you'll know if you've been following my daily blog since the start of the year, at the end of March I lost my job with the BBC so I've been doing a few writing and PR jobs in the past months. And the Kindness Festival popped up quite early. In my previous life as a radio producer and presenter I worked with Brian and covered the three previous Kindness Festivals, including interviewing and reporting from the festival itself.

It's been fun being involved again, from a different perspective, and it also fits in perfectly with another new project that's on the cards for me.

A few years ago I wrote a fun book with a friend of mine - Debbie Duncan. 'Lifelines' is the story of two friends sharing laughter, challenges, and cake and now I'm writing another book with Debbie ... and it's all about ..... KINDNESS!

Forgive me if over the next few months as I enter the final quarter of this year-long blog, I mention kindness a few more times.

I'm doing lots of reading about kindness and doing interviews and chatting to people, and in fact today at the Kindness Festival I'll also be doing just that! What a great opportunity to have loads of kind people in one place to chat to!

Kindness is freeIf I didn't know it already, I'm learning kindness is something that really defines us as humans. Anthropologists believe kindness is the strongest possible proof of our common humanity. Co-operation is the reason why, anthropologists believe, humanity has evolved and developed over more than 600 centuries.

All the science aside, of course we also know that kindness makes a difference, not just to those who are on the receiving end of kindnesses, whether they are 'random' acts or not, but also it affects the person who is GIVING the kindness. 

When you do something good for someone, it makes YOU feel great. To see someone else's smile is amazing.  Hopefully we're not kind to others to make OURSELVES feel good, but it can be a side effect.

Performing acts of kindness, with no thought of a return will, bit by bit, act by act, prove life-changing for giver and receiver alike.

We can all make a difference – and we can all help to change to the world! 

Today we'll celebrate kindness, and all those people who do so much to share kindness and make our world a better place, but kindness is something we can all do ... it costs nothinbut it is a great gift!

Be Kind to each other everyone!

And it you're in Jersey today ... we'd love to see you at the Kindness Festival!

 

 


Wellbeing Wednesday

How are you feeling today?

Is this a Wellbeing Wednesday for you?

I'm reminded that for a few years when I was the presenter of the BBC Radio Jersey Afternoon Show, an hour every Wednesday was devoted to subjects related to our  health and wellbeing. It was a really interesting hour, with different subjects and guests talking about all sorts of issues.

We covered physical as well as mental health, and explored alternative medicines and measures that people employ to keep themselves well. I learned a lot.

When you are working on a daily show, I soon discovered that to sustain the programme day in and day out, I needed some sort of  'structure'.

Planning ahead is vital. It can be unbelievably exhausting if you arrive at work every day with no idea about what is going to happen and how you're are going to fill your programme. If every day of the working week is a struggle to fill space, it's just so stressful! Andin the long term, that's certainly not good for your wellbeing! Putting a little plan together can actually keep you well!

It's also depressing if you keep getting knock-backs and disappointments, but the truth is ... ringing possible guests and contributors at say 10am asking them to chat to you live on the radio at for example, 3pm, can result in constant refusals. Believe it or not people have lives and work, and not everyone can just drop everything to have a chat with a radio host, not unless they have an urgent need to do so.

Yes I'm aware that lots of media people think the world revolves around us ... why WOULDN'T everybody just pause their lives to be on the radio in half an hour's time? But the truth is, life is not like that! We have to work around others. 

Yes, there's always flexibility, of course, because it might be something happens that day that you need to respond to during the show. But mostly you can plan most of your guests and subjects in advance and work around them if you need to.

The trick when you're working on a long running production - and I have worked for many years not just in radio but in (live and recorded) television so I think I know what I'm talking about - is to have a plan and even a 'schedule'!

You can look ahead and see if one day in particular is an important date or anniversary  in the calendar ... you could book guests to reflect that. You can source guests who might have an event planned, and you can think of ideas for what we call 'stranding' - subjects which pop up regularly which you can plan in advance, featuring issues you think might interest your listeners. These can be pre-planned.

This 'stranding' also means that people tuning in to your show may feel that they have an 'appointment to listen' if they want to. They know that a subject may be coming up at a certain time, on a specific day of the week. If you're running a 'series' you may want to run it around the same time every week so that people know to listen in!

I know what you're saying ... 'well you can always play another song or run some sort of survey or competition where it's mostly YOU chatting'?

Yes, that's true, but BBC local radio in the UK is supposed to be predominantly 'talk' and based in the community, featuring local conversations which interest local people. Well that was the original intention and aim anyway. The BBC is not a' commercial' station or set of stations which rely on mostly music. 

Anyway, although I loved playing music on the radio, when I was presenting I'd much rather chat to someone else who is far more interesting than me rather than just wittering on into the microphone about myself, the things I've been up to, the people I've met, the places I've visited or are connected to and the things I'm interested in. Giving a little of yourself is important, but not too much I always think!

We can all  be rather self-centred, it's true, and we would often rather talk about ourselves than let others speak. Maybe many of us would rather push our own ideas than listen to the other person. If you're at a party, how often do you find yourself chatting about what YOU are up to, or YOUR opinions on a matter, rather than being quiet and letting others talk and finding out about what they are doing? It's all part of the skill of  'Active Listening' which I was blogging about last week.

And as I said at the top, apart from anything else, when you talk to different people, you learn SO much! 

And I believe it's never too late to learn!

It takes a lot of work to put together an interesting radio programme every day, especially when you're working either alone and producing your own show or working with a very small team. Researching subjects so you can ask sensible questions is important, I think.

Some presenters don't do that. They go into an interview rather unprepared, relying on stuff they 'think' they already know,  and so often it can become more about pushing their own thoughts on the issue. It's more about THEM than the subject and the person they are talking to! 

Wellbeing Wednesday acrosticAnyway, back to Wellbeing Wednesday on the radio!

This acrostic reminded me of it and today I share it with you ... and hope you will be inspired.

Wellbeing Wednesday on the radio wasn't MY idea, rather it came from a fabulous young producer who I was working with at the time - Emma-Jayne - and she did most of the legwork on the series, booking guests, compiling those all important notes, introducing me to some of the wonderful people in Jersey who are part of the 'wellbeing' community. 

Of course, lots of people choose to concentrate on this issue in the middle of the week ... which for many is also called 'Wellness Wednesday' ...  so it was a great fit.

It was a lovely time for me, working with EmJay ... what a privilege to share office and studio space and ideas with someone so fabulous!!! We bounced off each other and it was glorious!

The Afternoon Show as originally envisaged (1-4pm) is now no more ... the schedules have changed, different people are in place. Actually the focus of BBC local radio is changing in some respects although I hope the 'localness' will never be entirely lost.

But I will always remember Wellbeing Wednesday with fondness and in fact the idea did gain another life, because until the COVID19 pandemic hit us, every Wednesday a group of  local wellbeing practitioners were setting up stall in Jersey's main town of St Helier, sharing their expertise and experience.  All under the 'Wellbeing Wednesday' banner!

And who knows, that idea might continue yet? I haven't given up on it entirely ... 

Maybe .... Watch this Space!

Meanwhile, if you have a moment,  I invite you to read the attached message. Perhaps read it a few times and feel inspired and motivated.

Have a Well Day everyone!

 

 


Active Listening

A few years back I was working full time at a BBC local radio station - BBC Radio Jersey in the Channel Islands - and I was privileged to present and produce the Afternoon Show.

It was a live three hour programme Monday to Friday and it was really all about music and local conversations. I loved it.

I chatted to people every day about things they were doing in our island, those making a difference in our community, hearing people's stories. Perfect.

SO - here's a question - what do you think is the solution for a good, or even a great interview?

Well, good presenters and interviewers don't just chat to people, they also LISTEN.

As part of my BBC training, we were encouraged to become 'ACTIVE LISTENERS'!

'Active Listening' is a communications technique which can be employed in all sorts of settings including counselling, training, and solving disputes or conflicts. It needs concentration, and it requires the listener to pay attention, try to understand, respond and remember what is being said in a  conversation, not just in the language and spoken word but also in the intonation of the speaker's voice and visual, non-verbal cues ... body language. That can reveal so much about a person.

For journalistic purposes, it's really about developing the skill to ... well ... LISTEN! 

Yes, of course you go into an interview with a fistful of questions, based on your research of the subject, but actually the most interesting interviews often result when the presenter or reporter responds to something that the interviewee might have just said. And that means you have to listen carefully to the guest and allow them to explain more, not just move onto your next question which drives YOUR news agenda.

Apart from anything else, when you don't listen to your guest, you miss opportunities to explore issues you never thought would crop up. And that's exciting! Well I think it is. I love doing interviews which go to places I hadn't prepared for. Then it DOES become more about the subject rather than the presenter, because if you are exploring a subject, you are doing that along with your listeners.

It means you have to sometimes stop asking direct and possible confrontational questions and ask more 'open' questions, perhaps more rhetorical questions which allow the guest to explain rather than just discuss. Phrases like 'can you explain that a bit more to us?' or 'how does that work?' or 'what might happen if ...?' are those types of 'open questions' and you'll only get to those if you listen REALLY carefully to what someone is saying. 

Of course, there are times and there are programme which do require a slightly more confrontational approach. Maybe calling people in power, including politicians, to account. News programmes often do that - short interviews where the presenters just fire questions at the interviewees. But even then there's opportunity for listening.

How many times have you been watching or listening to a news programme and the guest has said something really interesting which then appears to be completely ignored by the host? It probably means the presenter is running out of time to ask all their pre-prepared questions ... the questions they think are most important, and those which they hope will get them a 'newsline' which they can put into the news bulletins later.

When it comes to Active Listening, not every broadcaster gets it, or wants to get it.

Being an Active Listener and responding to your guests means that you may have to relinquish your own personality and your own agenda to some respect and allow subjects to flow. To recognise that actually the interview is more about the guests and their experiences, rather than YOU.

Not every presenter will want to do that because they truly believe that the listeners tune in to hear THEM rather than their guests. Well, maybe some do listen in to 'celebrities' but my experience is that most people out there quickly tire of the mouthy, self opinionated broadcasters. 

The joy of the Afternoon Show on BBC Radio Jersey for me is that we had TIME to discuss issues. We could drop a song if the conversation went down another road and became more interesting.  And every day I tried to practice 'Active Listening'.

Active listeningAnd the skill can also inform your daily life.

We can all be 'Active Listeners'.

If we stop making it all about US and perhaps a little bit more about listening to others, we discover more about others. We may actually learn things we didn't know.

More importantly, there are many people who are alone, who rarely talk to others, and sometimes those people want and need to talk, to express themselves, tell someone else about what they've been up to, and maybe to share their ideas, or even their fears. The elderly and others who maybe live alone who want to talk not just be 'talked at'.

If, when we meet them, we just impose our own opinions on them and don't allow them to express themselves in any meaningful way, we rob them of the joy of conversation. 

'Active Listening' does mean giving something of ourselves away. To maybe allow silence between us ... that's hard because we don't like silence, we think it needs to be filled. But when you allow someone to maybe stop and be thoughtful, and pick up their thoughts without interruption ... it can be really rewarding for everyone.

When you actively listen you maybe have to deliberately stop yourself jumping in to close the gap in conversation, or to give your own opinion. You might have to stop yourself saying stuff like 'oh that's just like me.' or 'yeah, that happened to me too...' followed by YOUR story rather than allowing them to tell you THEIR story. 

It doesn't mean we have to become completely passive, or even stifle our own personality. It doesn't mean we shouldn't take people to task if they are saying something that is unacceptable, unhealthy, disrespectful or 'false'. It just means allowing others the privilege of talking without interruption. 

We are all inclined to be a bit self-centred and to believe that our stories or thoughts or opinions are more important than anyone else's. So becoming an 'active listener' can be hard work. It goes against our natural inclinations.

But when we start, I believe a whole new world of communication opens up.

So today, if you're up for it, maybe give it a go.

Why not try to be ... an 'Active Listener'?

 

 

 

 

 


Flowers Flowers Everywhere

Today in Jersey should have been Battle Day.!

Let me explain. Today the seafront in our main town of St Helier should have been crowded for the annual Jersey Battle of Flowers, a spectacularly colourful parade featuring dozens of 'floats' all covered in flowers, along with dancers and music, costumes and smiles.

Battle of FLowers Prix d'Honneur 2019I first went to the Battle parade as a child and later in life I would not just attend, but work at it for the local Jersey media - writing for the local newspaper, recording for the local TV station and latterly, I was down in the arena broadcasting live to the island via the local BBC radio station! What a joy!

The history of the parade goes back to 1902, when a parade was organised to  celebrate the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. It was so popular that the event was repeated the following year and then it became an annual event and a great tourist attraction. It's a Jersey tradition!

The best thing about the Battle is that it's 'homegrown'.

Over the years I've spoken to masses of people who give their lives to the parade, spending many months of the year planning and building the gorgeous floats, organising costumes and dances and music, ordering flowers and then covering every millimetre of those fantastic constructions with the blooms - most real, some paper - in preparation for the big day.  For many people, Battle is a way of life especially in the Jersey parishes, who create the biggest floats which sail up and down Victoria Avenue on the day and who compete for the big prizes! Yes it's beautiful and it's competitive! 

For many years it's not just been the Afternoon Parade on the second Thursday in the month of August, but also a Moonlight Parade on the Friday, when the flower festooned floats are re-imagined in colourful lights. Now that's a spectacle to behold. It's just awe-inspiring!

This year, however, for the second year running, the Battle of Flowers is off, thanks to the COVID19 pandemic. Previously it was war that prevented the parade, now this ghastly virus not only prevents us gathering in huge numbers safely to celebrate Battle, but it also means that the people who MAKE the parade and the floats haven't been able to meet across the year to plan and build.

I know the Jersey Battle of Flowers organisers desperately hope that we will be back on track next year, so let's pray for that!

So I'm thinking about flowers today, and this fabulous quote which is attributed to Lady Bird Johnson

Where flowers bloom

"Where flowers bloom, so does hope,”

We can't but help feel happy when we see and experience flowers, especially colourful blooms. The spectacle of those flowery floats IS the most amazing feeling. Knowing that people have created the exhibits with such love is also inspiring!

Flowers represent life and energy, and love.

Why is it that often if we want to show our love, we buy flowers or blooming plants? It's because they remind us that life is good, there are better times ahead. Whatever life may throw at us, the flowers in our lives WILL  bloom again, and we will come through the trials.

The Battle of Flowers WILL be back, the colourful floats will grace the seafront in St Helier again, the people who love the tradition will once again produce those wonderfully ornate and imaginative creations!

Roll on August 2022!

Oh - and if you want to see what the parade was like last time it was held ... on the second Thursday in August of 2019 ... here's how the local ITV station reported it! This programme includes some of the people who make the magic, as well as the parade itself. Ok, so the weather was a bit dull, but it was still a wonderful day!  

 


A Dark Day in History

Today I'm turning back the hands of time 81 years to June 28th 1940. 

It's not a date that you may know as important in history but for the people of the Channel Islands, and for Jersey and Guernsey in particular, it's a significant day.

It was a Friday and since September 1939 Great Britain, including the British Crown Dependencies - the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey, and the Isle of Man - were at war with Germany.

The first months of what is now known as the Second World War (1939-1945) is known as the 'Phoney War'. Relatively little happened in the way of conflict but it was in that time that Hitler began working seriously on his plans for world domination. Nazi influence grew in the homeland, and  troops began to flood across Europe, gradually encroaching on France. On May 10, 1940 the Nazis invaded the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium in a 'blitzkrieg' (German for “lightning war”) and then their sights were set on France.

Allied troops based in Europe were moved back by the advancing enemy and by the end of May 1940 many thousands of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and other Allied troops were cornered in or near a small coastal town in the top most northern point of France near to the border with Belgium. Between May 26th and June 4th 1940 during what has become known as the Battle of Dunkirk (Dunkerque) an estimated 338,000 Allied forces were evacuated from Dunkirk, across the English Channel to England, as German forces closed in on them. The massive operation, involving hundreds of naval and civilian vessels, became known as the “Miracle of Dunkirk”.

With the defences now virtually non-existent, on June 22nd 1940 France surrendered, or at least agreed to an Armistice with German forces which came into effect after midnight on June 25th. As far as Hitler was concerned, next it would be Great Britain.

If you know where the Channel Islands are and the history of the time, you'll know what comes next. 

The Channel Islands are actually VERY close to France. The islands sit in the Bay of St Malo, and Jersey is the nearest to the French mainland - just 14 miles (or 22 km) away. On a good day from Jersey's East Coast we can see not just the French coast, but even houses and wind turbines on the French side of the small channel which separates us. 

By the end of June 1940, after months of anticipation, it had become clear that occupation of the islands was inevitable. The Germans were just across the water!

In summer of 1940 Hitler seemed unstoppable as he raced through Europe and was now almost in waving distance of the British mainland from northern France and the Low Countries. For Hitler, taking the Channel Islands was a big deal. Invading and occupying Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark would be a PR coup and, he hoped, strike fear into the hearts of the British people and their government in London, headed up by Winston Churchill.  It's reckoned he thought invading the Channel Islands would be a signal that he was on his way! Soon he would be marching through London in victory!

It was on July 1st 1940 that the Germans DID invade the Channel Islands - actually the only place in the British Isles to be invaded and occupied by German Nazi forces - and so began five long years of Occupation.

In the final weeks of 'freedom' confusion reigned. Many people with means and/or family in the UK had already left but now many thousands decided to evacuate, not wanting to hang around for the Nazis. The British government had made the decision that, to save lives, it would be best not to engage in military conflict with the Germans when they eventually came. There had been some British forces based in the islands, but by June 20th, any remaining military personnel had been withdrawn, so leaving an 'open door' for the enemy to invade.

Unfortunately no one told the German High Command.

Viscount's Inquest BookOn June 28th, being unaware that the islands were undefended, there was a German bombing raid on Guernsey and Jersey in which 44 islanders were killed  - nine in Jersey and the remaining poor souls in Guernsey. There was a desperate scuffle to inform the enemy of the situation, including a belated message on the BBC that the islands had been declared "open towns". Later in the day the BBC reported the German bombing of the Channel Islands. on June 30th the deaths of the islanders killed in Jersey were reported at an inquest and recorded in the Viscount's (the senior law officer) Inquest Book, which is now part of the Jersey Archive.

The islands would be occupied until May 9th 1945 and it was in the run-up to the 75th anniversary of that Liberation (Liberation75), while working at BBC Radio Jersey. that I recorded a fascinating project which would run for a whole year right though to May 9th 2020 and beyond.

I worked in partnership with the Jersey Archive, part of Jersey Heritage, with the experts there selecting 50 objects from the collections in the Archives and the Jersey Museum through which we told the story of the Occupation and Liberation of Jersey. The series ran from May 2019 through to June 2020 and we produced 50 short features each one focussing on one object from the collections that tell us a specific story about that part of our history. 

The features ran every Friday morning just after 0830 on the BBC Radio Jersey Breakfast Show. We ran the first on Liberation Day (May 9th) in 2019 and then we picked up the series on June 21st and ran a feature every day until Libertion75 and beyond.

Object Number 3 in the series happened to land on Friday June 28th 2019 ... exactly 79 years on from the bombing raids on Guernsey and Jersey which heralded the start of Occupation.

And so it was on that morning we heard from Linda Romeril, the Head of Archives and Collections at Jersey Heritage,  who brought out the object which tells that story ... that Inquest Book.

And so, as I said, let's turn back the clock 81 years to June 28th 1940 ...

50 Objects - No.3 from Jersey Heritage Vimeo on Vimeo.

I loved doing this series and I learnt so much. Each of the features is on the BBC Radio Jersey website under 'Breakfast' or various presenters, but Jersey Heritage/Archive also placed each feature on Vimeo - the whole series is there!

If you want to listen to this on the BBC Radio Jersey website - click on the link below

James Hand - 50 OBJECTS - the story of Jersey's Occupation and Liberation 1940-1945 told through 50 objects held by Jersey Heritage - BBC Sounds - Object 3 - 28 June 2019.

 

 


The Story of Brave Men

This week has been an exciting one in Jersey.

Among other things, we had a Royal Visit.

HRH The Princess Royal (Princess Anne) did a whistle-stop tour of our lovely island. And although we've had a very damp week, actually on Thursday we were blessed with glorious sunshine, so that was brilliant especially for all the islanders, including hundreds of children, who came out to greet her.

The Princess Royal opened our newest school (the fabulous Les Quennevais School) and a new sports training facility, and visited the Jersey Zoo ... she's the patron of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.

Waterloo memorial St Saviour's Church JerseyBut for me, her most important duty during the day took her to St Saviour's Church where she unveiled a very special memorial plaque in the church.

In St Saviour's Churchyard in Jersey there are many interesting stories. In 2018 I spent many months wandering around the graveyard with the then Rector of St Saviour, the Rev Peter Dyson, who was investigating the people laid to rest there.

This resulted in a series of 26 episodes broadcast by BBC Radio Jersey and it was fascinating. I learned so much.

As a result of his research, Peter found many dozens of men who are connected to the Napoleonic era... the Napoleonic and Peninsula Wars, including the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Men were found who fought on the British side and even one who fought under the French emperor. It's thought St Saviour's is the resting place of more Napoleonic and Peninsula Wars veterans than anywhere else in the world. It's astonishing that so many veterans of these campaigns eventually found their way to Jersey.

In 2020 a book was published which outlines their stories - 'Napoleonic War Veterans Buried at St. Saviour’s Church, Jersey' edited by one of the world's leading experts in the period, William Mahon.

Napoleonic & Peninsula Wars memorial Oct 2020In Autumn 2020, a memorial was placed in the north Lady Chapel of the Church but the unveiling of the plaque was a year delayed because of the COVID19 pandemic. Finally, this past Thursday, June 24th 2021, that memorial was unveiled by The Princess Royal ... there was a special church service and colourful celebrations including lots of children and members of the Jersey community.

In October 2020, just before Rev Peter Dyson retired as Rector of the parish, I returned to the churchyard at St Saviour's Church to talk to him about the memorial, some of the stories it told and the importance of the research.

This was played in two parts on the BBC Radio Jersey Sunday Morning Breakfast show on October 4 2020.

Here is the complete story. 


*images from St Saviour's Church Jersey Facebook Page

 

 


A Voice from the Past

Happy Liberation Day!

If you live in or hail from the Channel Islands you'll know why I'm greeting you like this today.

Here in the islands, May 9th is a day for celebration and commemoration every year and has been since 1945, the day that Jersey and the other Channel Islands gained their freedom after nearly five long years of Occupation by German Nazi forces during what we now call 'the Second World War'.

Usually, when we aren't living under Covid19 pandemic restrictions, it's a day packed full of events including luncheons for people who lived through the war years, parades and fun, as well as commemorations and thanksgiving including special church services.

Last year was the 75th anniversary of the Liberation - Liberation75 - and all the commemorations had to be online or virtual.

Object 50 - Welcome Home JsyHeritage copyrightThis year it's a little more relaxed, although there are none of the usual large gatherings planned. For instance, there will be no re-enactment of the Liberation of Jersey on May 9th 1945, that moment when British troops came ashore at the harbour in St Helier, marched the short distance to what is now called 'Liberation Square' and were welcomed by thousands of islanders who saw the British Union Jack raised on the Pomme d'Or Hotel. After five years of the Nazi Swastika flag on local flagpoles, that must have been an incredible moment.

For the residents of Jersey who had lived through nearly five years of Occupation, since German Nazi forces invaded the island on July 1st 1940, this was a moment to be not just celebrated but cherished and remembered. Annual events keep the Occupation in the mind of Jersey residents, children learn about the period not just through their families but also at school. As those who lived through the era gradually leave us, their legacy is ensured by the annual commemorations and the guardians of our history.

In 2019 and 2020 I worked with the experts at Jersey Heritage to create a radio series which would tell the story of the Occupation and Liberation of Jersey through 50 Objects which are held in the collections at the Jersey Archive and the Jersey Museum. The series was broadcast on BBC Radio Jersey on the Friday morning Breakfast Show on May 9th 2019 and then every week from the end of June that year up to and beyond Liberation75 on May 9th in 2020. This was part of our contribution to Liberation75, and I was privileged to learn that it became part of the official online commemorations.

During the making of the series we looked at documents, official and personal, diaries, posters, registration cards, items which told how the islanders lived under increasingly difficult conditions, made do with what they could lay their hands on to put food on the table and survived the deprivations of Occupation. We heard how children grew up in that period, how they played and how adults kept themselves busy, including having fun in local amateur dramatic productions. We explored transport and medicine and all the shortages which gradually began to show themselves as the war progressed, as Germany began to lose ground and headed towards ultimate defeat.

Our 50 stories included Jews who lived in fear and secret and we heard about those individuals who resisted the enemy forces and those, including families of English origin, who were sent to work and internment camps in Europe, some never to return. We also heard about those who collaborated with the enemy, and we heard the harrowing stories of slave workers who built massive fortifications as the Nazis under Hitler desperately hung on to the islands. We even heard the tales of some of the Germans who were based here and how they lived.

SO many stories, all wrapped up in objects and documents held in trust by Jersey Heritage. It was fascinating and I learned so much about that period of history in my home island. I developed a new appreciation for the resilience of the Jersey people, including members of my own family who lived through the Occupation years. 

As I said, our 50 Objects series didn't end on May 9th 2020 because, actually, Liberation wasn't done and dusted on that day. It was just the start of a period of readjustment for those who had lived through the days when they were imprisoned and controlled by the enemy within the confines of this small island.

And for some 'liberation' would come later. Guernsey was also liberated on May 9th 1945, Sark on May 10th but in Alderney, the most northern of  the Channel Islands from where pretty much the whole population had been evacuated in June/July 1940, their 'Homecoming' would not be until December 1945. Alderney residents had to wait until the end of the year before they could return, mostly because their whole island had become one big German defence base and after May 9th 35,000 mines had to be removed, with some casualties, before the population could safely return. Homecoming in Alderney is now annually celebrated every December 15th!

For many thousands of Channel Islanders who had left their homes before the Germans invaded in 1940, there was a gradual return after May 1945. 

The evacuation of civilians from the Channel Islands in 1940 had, as I just said, seen the evacuation of virtually the entire population of Alderney ( 1,500 people). In Guernsey around one third of the population left the island in the run up to July 1st 1940 when the Occupation began. That was around 5,000 school children and 12,000 adults out of the resident population at the time of 42,000. In Jersey, although 23,000 civilians registered to leave, the majority of islanders followed the advice of their island government and remained. Only 6,600 Jersey residents out of 50,000 left on the evacuation ships in summer 1940, just before Occupation.

For some islanders, of course, the move away would be permanent. Although they were 'evacuees' many settled well in various locations in England and other parts of the UK. Some got jobs, got married, had children. And they would not return. 

But once the war was over - VE (Victory in Europe) Day was May 8th and Liberation was the following day - islanders scattered across Great Britain started to think about and plan their homecoming.

This week in my blog I decided to dip into my 50 Objects series ... I hope you've enjoyed listening to some of the stories. Just seven, and there are 43 more if you feel you'd like to go to the Jersey Heritage pages on Vimeo.

And so today I turn to the final feature in the series - Object 50 - which isn't actually an 'object' at all.  

It's a voice, a voice from the past, the voice of one of those returning evacuees.

Nelley Lebredonchel (née Hotton) was a child when she was evacuated and when she returned with her family. By all accounts she was quite a character, as Senior Archivist at the Jersey Archive Stuart Nicolle discovered when he interviewed her for the 60th anniversary of Liberation. She and her parents and siblings spent the war years in the north of England, as many islanders did, and they returned to Jersey and the family here in September 1945 just a few months after the original 'Liberation Day'.

Her story and her voice is now part of the Archives ... and it was to Nelley that Stuart turned for our final feature...

50 Objects - No50 from Jersey Heritage Vimeo on Vimeo.

If you want to listen to this audio feature on the BBC Jersey website click on the link below

Breakfast on BBC Radio Jersey - 50 OBJECTS - the story of Jersey's Occupation and Liberation 1940-1945 told through 50 objects held by Jersey Heritage - BBC Sounds - Object 50 - May 22nd 2020

*image copyright Jersey Heritage


The Ralph Mollet Diaries

On the eve of Liberation Day in the Channel Islands I'm continuing to dip into a radio series I recorded in 2019/2020 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of this momentous historic day last year.

It was a brilliant experience for me, as I worked closely with the experts at Jersey Heritage who selected 50 Objects from the collections at the Jersey Archive and the Jersey Museum through which we told the story of the Occupation and Liberation of Jersey.

Objects selected told us so much about living life under German Nazi occupation. How the population kept food on the table, made do and mended, resisted the enemy, lived day to day life. We heard how life was for German soldiers based in Jersey, and how islanders entertained themselves and there were documents that showed the plight of islanders' health and food supplies, and official documents showing how the German forces kept control over the islanders - registration cards, posters warning against sedition.

If you read this blog yesterday, you'll know that we heard the tales of slave workers brought to the island as forced labour on numerous fortifications which Hitler ordered to ensure the British and their Allies were unable to win back the islands, if they had invaded. There were stories about people who were sent off the island to work and internment camps, some of whom never returned. And we learned about the lives of groups like Jewish people who lived in fear throughout the occupation.

I learned so much about that period of Jersey's history including some of the 'big events' during the era starting with the German bombing raids on June 28th 1940 which killed islanders just before the enemy invaded the island on July 1st that year.  Jumping forward more than four and half years we re-lived the arrival of the Red Cross ship 'Vega' with vital food parcels and supplies for an island that had been cut off from the rest of the world since D-Day in June 1944. By the end of that final year of the war, Jersey and the rest of the Channel Islands were in a desperate situation and the Red Cross parcels really were a life-saver.

Our 50 Objects included official letters and private documents and even diaries and, for this penultimate 'dip' into my series, which ran weekly on BBC Radio Jersey for a whole year in the run up to and as part of our contribution to Liberation75 on May 9th 2020, I'm turning to a diary.

Object 47 - RALPH MOLLETT DIARIESAnd not just any ordinary diary. This was the personal journal written across the Occupation by one Ralph Mollet, who was the Bailiff's secretary during the period.

The Bailiff in both Jersey and Guernsey is the chief justice and also the president of the legislature or States Assembly of elected representatives. The role goes back to the 13th century, Bailiffs are appointed by the British monarch and they undertake official and ceremonial duties.

Before the invasion by the German Nazi forces in July 1940 there would also have been a Lieutenant-Governor in both jurisdictions, but as the official representative of the British monarch it was thought best for them to leave the islands before occupation. So the Bailiff role became even more important. He was the main point of civilian contact for the German Commandant and the occupying authorities. The Bailiff also represented the interests of islanders to those authorities and got involved in diplomacy and negotiation, pleading causes, including the supply of food and medicines. In fact, it was the Bailiff of Jersey who intervened in winter of 1944 and eventually managed to persuade the Nazi German forces of the need for the Red Cross to sail into Jersey on Dec 31st of that year with those vital supplies.

From 1935 to 1961 the post of Bailiff in Jersey was held by Alexander (later Lord) Coutanche, and working alongside him was Ralph Mollet, attending many of those official meetings and engagements. Throughout the 1940-45 period Mr Mollet kept journals and they really are a window on his world, as he stood on the sidelines of history. 

Linda Romeril, Archives and Collections Director at Jersey Heritage, opened Ralph Mollet's diaries for us ....

50 Objects - No47 from Jersey Heritage Vimeo on Vimeo.

Ralph Mollet also documented his experiences just after occupation in Jersey Under The Swastika.  But his original diaries are held in the Jersey Archive. They are a phenomenal documentation of the era and an important and fascinating record of the time that Ralph and his fellow islanders spent under enemy occupation.

If you want to listen to the feature on the Ralph Mollet diaries via the BBC Radio Jersey website please click on the link below.

BBC Radio Jersey - Breakfast on BBC Radio Jersey, 01/05/2020, 50 OBJECTS - the story of Jersey's Occupation and Liberation 1940-1945 told through 50 objects held by Jersey Heritage - Object 47 - 01 May 2020


A Slave worker's Shoe

All this week I'm looking ahead to Liberation Day in the Channel Islands with a dip into a radio series I made in the past couple of years which tells the story of the Occupation and Liberation of Jersey.

It was in early 2019 that I met with the archivists and experts at the Jersey Archive and explained that I had this idea for a series which would take objects from their collections through which we could tell the story of that period of our island's history.

I have to admit it wasn't entirely an 'original' idea, but fortunately the guys at the Archive were aware of another series which was on BBC Radio 4 some years ago - 'A History of the World in 100 Objects' made in partnership with the British Museum - so they knew exactly what I was after.

The Archive experts selected 50 Objects from the Jersey Heritage collections held in the Jersey Archive and the Jersey Museum, and then we recorded in batches across more than a year. The features ran every Friday morning on the BBC Radio Jersey Breakfast Show starting on May 9th 2019 and then picking up at the end of June and running right through to and beyond the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Liberation on May 9th 2020.

Liberation75 could not be publicly celebrated because of the Covid19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions which were in place at the time, but I'm pleased to say our '50 Objects' series was included in the 'official' commemorations.

Although I know a lot about the Occupation, recording the series taught me so much more and one of the subjects we featured was heart-breaking and also served to uncover the brutality of life for many under the Nazis.

When you visit Jersey, and indeed the rest of the Channel Islands, you will notice that there are lots of concrete structures which were built during the Occupation in the years 1940 to 1945.

If you've been reading this blog over the past few days you'll be aware that the German Nazi forces invaded and occupied the islands on July 1st 1940. Hitler was cock-a-hoop that he had invaded a part of the British Isles and in fact, he saw it as a first step into the invasion of mainland Britain. 

That didn't happen, the British fought hard against it, including during the period known as the Battle of Britain  (this included the German night time bombing raids which became known as The Blitz) from July 1940 to June 1941.

But as the tide of war turned against them, the Nazis were determined that the Channel Islands would not be taken back so they set about building fortifications - look out points, gun emplacements, tunnels and bunkers where German soldiers could defend the islands against British and Allied invasion.

What many people might not know is that the Germans didn't build those concrete defences and walls and bunkers themselves, rather they were largely built by forced labour and what we now recognise as 'slaves'. This was part of what the Germans called 'The Atlantic Wall', and in the Channel Islands it resulted in the construction of fortifications, roads and more between 1940 and 1945. This was overseen by the Organisation Todt. which was a civil and military engineering organisation in Nazi Germany that operated between 1933 to 1945. It was named after its founder, Fritz Todt, who was an engineer and a senior Nazi.

Object 23 - slaveworker's shoeOrganisation Todt was actually responsible for a huge range of engineering projects both in Nazi Germany and in their occupied territories during World War II - from France to the Soviet Union and, of course, in the Channel Islands.

Although some people were 'employed' to work on the projects, Organisation Todt increasingly used forced labour and, especially from 1943 until 1945 as the Third Reich came under pressure, this effectively meant that slaves were brought in to construct their defences. In the Channel Islands this included many hundreds of prisoners of Russian, Polish and other European heritage for whom life was just appalling.

And so to today's 'object' from the 50 Objects series. A few of the objects we looked at highlighted the plight and lives of those poor men who were brought to the islands to work on the fortifications, who were often treated brutally, with little food and shelter, no clothes and dreadful working conditions. Some were worked to their death. 

When Val Nelson, Senior Registrar at Jersey Heritage, pulled out today's object ... it made my skin crawl and my heart break...

50 Objects - No23 from Jersey Heritage Vimeo on Vimeo.

This was Object Number 23 and if you want to listen to Val talking about a couple of other objects which document the lives of the Operation Todt slave workers in Jersey you can also listen to Object 21 - a Russian Toy and Object 22 - Bill's cap.

If you want to listen to today's clip on the BBC Radio Jersey website click on the link below.

BBC Radio Jersey - Ashlea Tracey, 15/11/2019, 50 OBJECTS - the story of Jersey's Occupation and Liberation 1940-1945 told through 50 objects held by Jersey Heritage - Object 23 - 15 November 2019