Sixth form students from St Aidan’s Church of England High School recently treated a group of local older people to an afternoon tea with a historical flavour.
The guests, who are all clients of local charity the Harrogate Easier Living Project (HELP) Opening Door’s service, were invited to share their memories of Harrogate in years gone by over tea and home-baked refreshments, prepared and served by sixth form Food Technology students
They were joined for tea by a group of A level history students who were keen to hear the guests’ stories from the past. The guests, who were all over the age of 65, covered topics as diverse as their experiences in wartime, advances in medicine and the creation of the NHS and changes in attitude towards education and careers.
Just some of the fascinating insights to come out of the conversations were tales of an abandoned parachute being made into silk underwear for all the ladies in a rural Yorkshire village, as well as postmen who dropped in for tea and a chat on their daily rounds.
Despite the many differences identified between the past and present, students were able to draw some parallels too. One student who lives in a rural village was interested to compare his experiences of rural life with a guest’s memories of growing up in a village with little provision in the 1940s. Whilst both experienced a lack of facilities and transport connections in their villages, in the past this meant shopping and socialising were far more difficult than they are today.
The idea for this intergenerational project came about at a tea party held to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday in April this year. The event gathered 70 Opening Doors’ clients together, six of whom shared their year of birth with Queen Elizabeth. The tea party evoked many memories of how times had changed over Her Majesty’s reign.
Christine Turner from the Harrogate Easier Living Project explained: “We know that our clients, many of whom have lived in Harrogate all their lives, have fascinating stories to tell. In today’s busy world, people often don’t take the time to listen or indeed ask about their stories. We thought it would be a great idea to approach St Aidan’s so that these stories are shared and enjoyed by younger people.”
Hannah Strickland, teacher of History, added: “Having studied social history throughout the year, it has been a very valuable experience for our students to hear these tales first hand. The guests’ experiences of historical events, such as wartime evacuation, has brought history alive for many of our students who until now had only read about these events.”
The students are now busy collating the photos and stories of the day to create a montage of their work, which will be displayed in the school library.