Sharing Heritage: “The Early Pestalozzi Children: Healing by Remembering & Recording”
A research project designed to recover the lost heritage of the European and Tibetan children who lived at the UK Pestalozzi Children’s Village in the early 1960s has received a boost with a £9,900 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) ‘Sharing Heritage’ grant. This exciting venture, entitled “The Early Pestalozzi Children: Healing by Remembering & Recording”, is to be run by the Early Pestalozzi Children Project, which was established by two of the original Pestalozzi children.
Between 1959 and 1965, some eighty children from refugee and other disadvantaged backgrounds across Europe and from Tibet had the unique opportunity to grow up in a safe and caring environment in the Pestalozzi Children’s Village in Sedlescombe, East Sussex. For many of these children, Pestalozzi and Sedlescombe became a surrogate home. Local schools – in particular Claverham School in Battle – also helped with their integration into the community.
But as time moved on, information about the early years of Pestalozzi was lost or forgotten. Project Co-Organiser and early Pestalozzi child Len Clarke says, “Half a century later we discovered that, beyond our personal memories, little of our early history was known. For the benefit of our families and those who cared for us – and for the many thousands of people across the UK who supported us – we want to record the experiences of those early years and facilitate a healing process for those of us who remain.”
To achieve this, the Project will interview surviving early Pestalozzi children and former staff to gather their recollections. They are also keen to hear from anyone who remembers this era – as a staff member, a volunteer, a supporter or as a friend of one of the children. Contributions of photos, documents and memorabilia are also being sought.
Co-Organiser, William Eiduks, says, “We are thrilled to be awarded this grant, which will allow us to start the recovery of our early Pestalozzi story. Pestalozzi, Sedlescombe, Battle and Hastings were a central part of our lives. This is also a wonderful chance to share our heritage and history with these communities.”
The Early Pestalozzi Children Project was established in 2013 by William Eiduks and Len Clarke to collect, preserve and relate the story of the children who came to the Pestalozzi Children’s Village between 1959 and 1965, by conducting oral history recordings, researching archives and personal records. The EPCP archive will be housed at the Planned Environment Therapy Trust Archive and Study Centre (PETT) in Toddington, Gloucestershire.
The EPCP expresses its sincere gratitude to PETT and their Archivist, Dr Craig Fees; the Pestalozzi International Village Trust and their CEO, Sue Walton, and the Child Care History Network (CCHN) for their encouragement and support of our grant application.
Special thanks also go to Dr Jonathan Williams for his assistance.
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Heritage Lottery Fund – Sharing Heritage information
Sharing Heritage is for any not-for-profit group wanting to explore their community’s heritage. With a commitment from HLF of £3m each year, Sharing Heritage grants between £3,000 and £10,000 are available to groups who want to discover their local heritage. Projects can cover a wide spectrum of subject matter from exploring local archaeology and a community’s cultures and traditions to identifying and recording local wildlife and protecting the surrounding environment to managing and training volunteers, and holding festivals and events to commemorate the past.
About Heritage Lottery Fund
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk @heritagelottery