Volunteers to ‘trek to Normandy’ to raise funds for Ballyclare museum
Volunteers at Ballyclare’s War Years Remembered museum are undertaking an arduous trek of 602 miles, using treadmills, to replicate the distance from Ballyclare to the beaches of Normandy to raise funds to support the facility which has been hit hard by Covid restrictions.
They hope to raise much needed funds to secure the future of the museum, allowing them to continue their work in preserving the history, life stories and artefacts of many service personnel who fought for their country.
The pandemic has had a devastating effect on the museum, losing almost all of its annual income.
However, the team has continued to support anyone requiring research, including documentary makers, authors and families of veterans and veterans themselves.
They have done this free of charge. War Years Remembered has not received any government funding or support during the pandemic and have relied, entirely, on donations. The future of the museum is under serious threat and this has prompted the younger volunteers to stage the ‘In the Footsteps of Heroes’ fundraiser.
A spokesperson for the facility, based in the town’s Dennison Industrial Estate, said: “War Years Remembered is more than a museum, it is a complete learning experience and the volunteers are dedicated to telling the stories of veterans and in educating the community on the shared experiences of war.
“It was established in 1994 by David McCallion, who continues to curate the collection with passion and commitment. It has inspired young people to give their time to ensure these stories are told and it holds artefacts that cannot be found anywhere else, for example they are the custodians of the war chest and military possessions of Lt Col Robert Blair Mayne DSO(3 Bars).”
South Antrim MP Paul Girvan has encouraged the community to back the fundraising effort.
Mr Girvan said: “War Years Remembered based is a unique collection of memorabilia and artefacts, which is dedicated to protecting and promoting our heritage relating to the First and Second World Wars.
“The charity relies heavily upon visitors and mobile exhibitions to raise the vital funds required to store and transport this wonderful collection.
“The Covid-19 restrictions have devastated these income streams and has put huge pressure on the organisation.
“The ‘In the Footsteps of Heroes’ campaign will see supporters of the museum walk 602 miles, the same distance from Ballyclare to the beaches of Normandy.”
The DUP representative added: “The campaign has already raised over £7,000 and I would encourage all those who support the aims of the organisation to offer any support they can.
“It is vital that as a community we do all we can to protect and promote this wonderful collection for the next generation, to ensure the sacrifices of those who have come before are never forgotten.“
Over £7,900 has been raised at the time of going to print.
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The manager of the War Years Remembered museum, David McCallion, received a prestigious award from the former Prime Minister, Theresa May, in 2019.
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