Give a brief outline of what you will be working on over the coming year.
I am working on a project celebrating the work of the Pulhams of Broxbourne, key landscape designers of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. I will be developing a touring exhibition and marketing this to potential host venues. The exhibition will launch at Lowewood Museum in January 2017 and be available for tour from May 2017. I will also be organising an event program to accompany the exhibition, and producing interpretation signage on the former Pulham factory site, the remains of which are being conserved as part of the project. The whole project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and is being delivered in partnership with Broxbourne Borough Council and B3Living.
What is your favourite thing about working in Museums?
That moment when a visitor discovers a famous, personal or local history link to a museum object that makes them go ‘oh wow’. Inspiring and enthusing people of all ages with the collections and the areas of history covered by a museum is the most rewarding part of the job. Plus the chance to get involved in lots of different activities, get dressed up in historical costumes for events, and generally have fun all in the name of the job!
Share one piece of advice for those interested in working in the Museum field.
Think outside the box. The role and work of museums is constantly changing, so be flexible and don’t be afraid to put forward your ideas, whether you are volunteering or at a job interview!
Which historical figure would you like to meet and why. What would you ask them?
John Ray, the 17th Century father of natural history, who worked out the first scientific definition of a species and catalogued thousands of plants, animals, birds, fish, reptiles and insects during his life. The sheer scale of his works amazes me. He also wrote very advanced papers for the 17th Century on adaptation and the origins of fossils. However, sadly he is not that well known despite his ground-breaking contributions. He lived in my former home village of Black Notley in Essex so I guess I would probably ask him – ‘What was it really like to live in Black Notley in the 1690s?’
Where would you choose to go/visit if you could go anywhere in the world for a day?
New Zealand to see the Lord of the Rings sets
What was the first music track or album you bought?
Ronan Keating’s album Ronan
A museum’s mission is to be at the heart of the local community. Lowewood Museum’s Development Officer, Carly Hearn, gives an insight into the creation of memory boxes – which when used as part of reminiscence therapy can help reconnect a person with their identity. The project was supported through funding by Broxbourne Borough Council, Epping Forest District Council and Hertfordshire Association of Museums.
Have you ever visited your local museum? Do you know what services they provide for older people? Lowewood Museum in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, is one of many museums playing a supportive role to residential and nursing homes providing outreach work which uses their collection in productive and meaningful ways. In 2015, the Lowewood Museum launched a set of memory boxes containing nostalgic objects for local care homes and community organisations.
Memory boxes are often used for reminiscence therapy, helping to reconnect a person with their identity and to improve communication, mood and overall wellbeing. Reminiscence therapy encourages social interaction by giving people the opportunity to share stories and experiences through a fun and stimulating activity. It also helps to bring together people of different backgrounds and generations, often helping to improve relationships between carers and the older person. The Cochrane Collaboration Review on reminiscence therapy for dementia showed that for 144 of the participants studied, there was evidence to show that reminiscence therapy improved cognition, mood and general behavioural function.
Lowewood Museum is not alone with this as many museums across the country offer memory boxes which are often free to hire. These easy to use low-cost boxes, filled with memory-jogging objects, can have a significant impact on someone’s wellbeing and evidence has also shown that reminiscence therapy can also significantly reduce care-giver strain when family carers are also involved (Thorgrimsen, 2002).
Joint reminiscence work involving people with dementia and their family care givers is a good example of relationship-centred care (Wood B, Spector AE, Jones CA, Orrell M, Davies SP, 2005) and evidence has shown that reminiscence therapy can assist in the reduction of depression in older people without dementia. (Bohlmeijer, 2003). Involving carers and older people without dementia in both the development and delivery of the boxes was vital for Lowewood’s project, as from the outset it was essential to recognise the central role played by volunteers and carers in nursing and residential care. With the ever increasing demand on care home staff, the Museum offered a base for community groups to work together producing a set of memory boxes which they could take ownership of, helping to promote to more individuals.
For Lowewood’s project, volunteers from the Lea Valley University of the Third Age (U3A) were recruited to help develop the boxes, working alongside staff from local nursing home, Quantum Care’s Belmont View, flexi care and independent living provider, B3Living, visual impaired organisation, Vision4Growth and speech and language therapy group, Cheshunt Aphasia, helping to ensure the boxes met the needs of their residents and group members. By working with Visual Impaired Organisation, Vision4Growth and speech and language support group, Cheshunt Aphasia, the Museum ensured expert advice was sought for residents in care who had suffered strokes, or other causes of speech and sight impairment. All those involved received training from a reminiscence specialist on how to use reminiscence therapy in person-centred care.
The final result produced four boxes which incorporated objects from the 1930s onwards appealing to both men and women, arranged in themes including Home Sweet Home, Out on the Town, When We Were Young, and Happy Days. Each box also comprised a support pack for care staff, which includes cue cards for discussion prompts and feedback sheets for sharing reminiscence session ideas between care homes. Popular items within the boxes that have helped to un-lock memories and stimulate discussions include cat’s cradle, Dinky Toys, a school milk bottle, Punch and Judy puppets, seaside postcards, dress and knitting patterns, sunlight soap, men’s razors and ladies hair curlers. We were also careful to include more recent items from the 1970s and 1980s for use with younger residents and people living with early onset dementia. All items were relatively inexpensive, sourced online or through car boot sales and local donations. Within three months of their launch the boxes were fully booked by local care homes and community groups, used in reminiscence sessions by over 300 people. Lowewood Museum has built on this initial success to develop new reminiscence based resources and support for care homes, including reminiscence sessions and tea and chat sessions at the Museum.
‘Home Sweet Home worked very well with our residents and staff alike! Our residents shared their memories as the items prompted long forgotten thoughts. There was much laughter at some of the stories told. The residents enjoyed talking to the younger members of staff and teaching them about life in past times – that was empowering for them. Thank you.’
St Catherine’s Care Home, Broxbourne, Hertfordshire. Lowewood Museum’s Home Sweet Home Memory Box.
One of the care homes making use of the boxes is St Catherine’s in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire. Activity and Lifestyle Facilitator, Carol Kerr, first used the boxes in a group setting, sitting with residents and selecting objects one at a time. Carol spoke of how the objects prompted many memories with the residents, with many stating, “I had one of those” and “‘I haven’t seen one of those for years”. Carol also said that ‘some of our younger member of staff had never seen some of the items before and so it empowered our residents, to be able to explain to them what their uses were’. Carol went on to explain how the room was filled with laughter and how a lovely afternoon was spent reminiscing and sharing stories.
Carol also used the memory boxes with individuals in a quieter setting. Ellie who is 87 prefers to sit in a quiet lounge and carers often find it hard to interest and engage her in any activity. However, when a member of staff walked into the lounge wearing the old fashioned apron, (or pinny as they called it!), Ellie threw her head back and laughed. “I used to wear one of those” she said, and remained cheerful and was happy to look through the box. The staff found this very rewarding.
Lowewood Museum’s memory boxes are available to hire for groups. They can be borrowed free of charge – for more information contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01992 445596.
Using memory boxes in person-centred care is an inexpensive resource offering meaningful results. With the ever-increasing pressure on care home staff to fulfil their daily tasks, it is perhaps their local museum who can offer the support in the development of reminiscence resources. If you haven’t visited your local museum, why not find out where it is and see what they have to offer in terms of resources and support for your care home? A museum’s mission is to be at the heart of its local community, as a main hub helping to bring together local communities, groups and individuals of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. Museums should exist as a place to offer all individuals the opportunity to explore and re-connect with the past and thus can play a crucial role in supporting nursing and residential care homes with the objects they collect and the vibrant outreach work they offer.
Wood B, Spector AE, Jones CA, Orrell M, Davies SP (2005) Reminscence Therapy for Demntia. The Cochrane Collaboration Review.
L Thorgrimsen, P Schweitzer, M Orrell (2002) Evaluating reminiscence for people with dementia: a pilot study. The Arts is Psychotherapy.
Bohlmeijer E, Smit F, Cuijpers P (2003) Effects of reminiscence and life review on late-life depression: a meta-analysis. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
Museum of Liverpool (2012) An evaluation of National Museums Liverpool: Dementia Training Programme
“tomorrow Hartley goes into a ward and Nicholls takes his place – so our happy little family is broken up – fortunately Nicholls is a good chap (a man from Hitchin) and we shall get on all right together”
Thursday December 2
“an unusual thing happened today – we had two very easy operations simultaneously – one a secondary haemorrhage which lead to the arm and punctuation of the leg – this seemed a nasty wound in the back punctuating the pleural cavity. We extracted bits of rib and a piece of army shirt – as would naturally be expected, practically all gunshot wounds contain bits of clothing”
Saturday December 11
“I fear that this diary has of late become rather dull and I expect that in places I have repeated myself but it is difficult always to remember what one has already written or to make ones ordinary work appear rather attractive in black and white”
Wednesday December 15
“Vol. II of my diary! Where shall I be when this book is finished! I don’t think I ever really contemplated reaching into a second volume”
Friday December 17
“more trouble in the barrack rooms – the major came round the other day and complained that they were not sufficiently tidy – hence everything except one small box for cleaning tackle is to be or has been swept away to our disgust”
“I also had the worst case of trench foot that I have so far seen – at the top joints of the legs on the right foot having mortified and so might be cut off”
Saturday December 18
“afternoon off today so went with Evelyn to Beauton – we got a lift in a passing cart driven by a man whose home was at La Bassee – his wife and children were in the hands of the Germans and he had heard nothing of them since October 9th!”
Saturday December 25
“how today – X-Mas day – we have a breathing space with no operations. As such a landmark in the year comes round the feeling of ___ , being in a horrible dream strikes one afresh. What am I out in France as an orderly in a hospital for? Why am I doing it?”
“I will tell the story of the sergeant’s turkey : Lounds, the x-Ray man, was going down to the barrack rooms and saw the sergeant’s orderly carrying the cooked turkey in a dish across the road – a wet night and tarred road did the rest! The turkey landed heavily on the road. The orderly stooped down and lifting the bird by one leg, examined it all over. Then, glancing around and thinking himself to be alone, drew out of his pocket a handkerchief and carefully removed the mud! The turkey was replaced on the dish and so far we have not heard that the sergeant complained of his meal!”
“we have just got over our 200th operation since the hospital opened”
Thursday November 18
“I had the chance of seeing a human heart and brain this morning in the lab, as the result of a postmortem – both healthy. The man had died from a bullet passing through his skull and splintering some bone which had injured the brain”
Tuesday November 23
“in some cases we use adrenaline and 10percent cocaine. I have been told that we have what is necessary for the storaine-billon treatment but it had not been needed yet – sister tells me that she is glad this is so because it frequently brings about subsequent paralysis”
“hydrogen peroxide (4 1/2 oz) we use very little in the theatre but a good deal in the wards”
“we were just in the middle of a fairly simple operation when Major Maynard-Smith came in to say that he must have me in theatre for a sudden haemorrhage of the common carotid artery! This was clearly tricky to operate and we got to work as soon as possible – 4 doctors on the job with myself helping one to give an intravenous saline injection – we fought hard for a long time but it was not to be”
Wednesday October 6
“the second operation was a good deal more interesting as it consisted of the extraction of a bullet which had situated itself over the left eyebrow, passed through the skull at the base of the nose and lodged on the inner side of the right orbit, immediately behind the right eye”
Wednesday October 13
“Pt. Dawson of the Northumberland Fusiliers was operated upon. The operation was successful for the patient and so. Back to the ward with what appeared to be a good clean wound – by 11.00 the next morning to lunchtime dressing was done, it was found badly gangrenous! On October 13 he had to have his leg amputated”
“the first batch of sisters arrived this afternoon – among them Miss Meadows who was acting matron at Beachborough when Miss Machmahon left. She was surprised to see me and was quite pleasant – but I could not forget that time when I had nicknamed her ‘sour face'”
Friday September 3
“Lovett was depressed this evening so to cheer him up I offered to give him the satisfaction of beating me at draughts – however I beat him twice so that the cure was not effected!”
Sunday September 5
“5.00pm official notice given to authorities that hospital was ready to receive patients – I am detailed for night duty in ward JH”
Thursday September 9
“Pt. Raine who had a bullet go through the back of his head in a line with the tops of his ears. Brain matter came out under tension and portions of bone were removed. He seems to be trifle better though still only semi-conscious”
“what a thing it is to be soldier! Talking of food, a staple diet with no ____ is machanochie’s rations (a restch firm) these rations are tinned meat and vegetables which came to the table in the form of a messy stew”
Sunday September 12
“some of the nurses had letters from home today saying that a zeppelin has found London to some purpose at last and has done some damage to Liverpool Street and in Threadneedle Street”
Wednesday September 15
“today just as we were about to start upon a simple operation of incisions for drainage of some shell wounds, the other orderly was suddenly called for and brought back back a man from ward F (this ward so far had had the largest number of operations and most of them serious) suffering from a surrounding haemorrhage – the original truth was a gun shot wound in the thigh just above the right knee resulting in a contaminated fracture of the femur”
Monday September 20
“we received a visit from the Queen of Portugal (the widow of King Carlos) 47 – Thursday September 23 “some of them were so delighted at the thought of going to England many were on stretchers and some were so young to be returning home with only one leg or one arm as the case may be”
Saturday September 25
“rumour has it that all the hospitals in the neighbourhood have been asked to take in, if possible, more than they are supposed to have. If this be so, then the struggle at the front must be titanic”
Wednesday September 29
“what grand news from the front! The 3rd German army corps surrounded – but at a great cost”
In 2014 Lowewood Museum marked 100 years since the start of the First World War with an exhibition displaying objects and stories connected to the Borough of Broxbourne.
Exhibits included a collection of diaries written by Stephen Warner, the great grandson of John Warner of Hoddesdon. During the War, Stephen served initially as a Private in the Royal Army Medical Corps, but after a time there he felt that he could not let others bear the brunt of the battle and so became 2nd Lieutenant in the 9th Battalion Essex Regiment where he was served with distinction and was awarded the Military Cross.
After the war, he wrote and illustrated a number of books, many of which are now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. He died on 24 June 1948, leaving his wife Winifred Warner. They had no children.
The diaries which are part of the Museum’s collection provide an insight into an individual’s experience of the First World War. For the first time these diaries will be shared online.
Follow the blog page and Lowewood Museum’s Twitter page to read extracts from the diaries and follow Stephen Warner’s journey through the First World War.