History being brought to life at War Years Remembered

Scott and Jay Richmond at the official opening of the War Years Remembered exhibition. INNT 37-001-PSB
Scott and Jay Richmond at the official opening of the War Years Remembered exhibition. INNT 37-001-PSB

The manager of a newly-opened museum in Ballyclare has spoken of his happiness after seeing the project finally coming to fruition.

The War Years Remembered museum was officially opened by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for Co Antrim, Mrs Joan Christie, OBE, on Saturday, September 10.

Drew Thompson in uniform at the official opening of the War Years Remembered exhibition. INNT 37-002-PSB

Drew Thompson in uniform at the official opening of the War Years Remembered exhibition. INNT 37-002-PSB

The museum, which houses thousands of items relating to both military history and social history from the First and Second World War’s is operated by a team of dedicated volunteers.

Speaking to the Times, the War Years Remembered manager, David McCallion said: “The opening ceremony was brilliant and very well supported. War Years Remembered was founded 22 years ago as a non-profit organisation and became a charity three years ago.

“It has definitely been a journey and at times an impossible task, but I have followed my heart and my dream and the museum is now up and running.”

Mr McCallion added: “The museum remembers the sacrifice of the men and women who fought for our freedom. I am proud of the new centre and proud of the volunteers who help to commemorate the war dead and veterans.

Brian Calden (centre) a director with War Years Remembered, pictured with Sam Cameron (left) ex Inniskilling Dragoon and Eddie Reid ex Inniskilling Fusilier. INNT 37-004-PSB

Brian Calden (centre) a director with War Years Remembered, pictured with Sam Cameron (left) ex Inniskilling Dragoon and Eddie Reid ex Inniskilling Fusilier. INNT 37-004-PSB

“At the opening ceremony we were joined by a number of Chelsea Pensioners and war veterans. Saturday was their day and a chance for us to also thank the people who have supported us over the years.”

Over the years, the collection of artefacts has been increased by generous donations from the public. One such recent addition to the collection is a wedding dress. The dress, which was donated to the team at War Years Remembered by a Ballyclare resident, was worn by the mother of the owner in 1941. The team have created a prominent display, featuring the dress on a ‘female manikin’ alongside a ‘male manikin’ in military fatigues, similar to the uniform worn by the owner’s father in the wedding photo which is beside the display.

Before the museum officially opened, the First Minister, Arlene Foster paid a visit to the site.

Commenting on this occasion, David added: “It was brilliant to have Arlene Foster, the leader of our country coming to visit the museum.

Volunteers, Paul McCann, Maggie Brown and Alan Hamilton. INNT 37-005-PSB

Volunteers, Paul McCann, Maggie Brown and Alan Hamilton. INNT 37-005-PSB

“She was sincere and genuine and it was good to have her here as we continue to mark the decade of remembrance.”

David would like to thank the director of the museum, 82-year-old Herbie Park MBE, and dedicated volunteer, Melville Patterson.

There is no admittance fee for the museum as the charity relies on donations. However, booking is required to view the historical exhibitions.

For details of news and events at the museum, which is located in the Dennison Industrial Estate off the Mill Road in Ballyclare, check out the War Years Remembered Facebook page.

Volunteer, Shanna Blair in costume for the official opening of the War Years Remembered exhibition. INNT 37-006-PSB

Volunteer, Shanna Blair in costume for the official opening of the War Years Remembered exhibition. INNT 37-006-PSB

If you would like to visit the museum or are interested in volunteering with the charity, call 02893354125 or email admin@waryearsremembered.co.uk

Eva McCamley (centre) with Micah and Aidan Shields. INNT 37-007-PSB

Eva McCamley (centre) with Micah and Aidan Shields. INNT 37-007-PSB

Barbara and Brian Walker from Dance Unlimited. INNT 37-008-PSB

Barbara and Brian Walker from Dance Unlimited. INNT 37-008-PSB

Jessica McCallion presents David McCallion with a cake, baked by Mrs M's Cake Boutique, at the official opening of the War Years Remembered exhibition. INNT 37-003-PSB

Jessica McCallion presents David McCallion with a cake, baked by Mrs M's Cake Boutique, at the official opening of the War Years Remembered exhibition. INNT 37-003-PSB