Penistone oral history project to keep local memories alive

April 7, 2017 | Community News

Steve Dobson (left) and Cera O’Rourke, volunteer presenters at Penistone FM with (centre) Lewis Stokes of the Banks Group

A year-long oral history project designed to capture and preserve decades of local memories from a South Yorkshire community is moving forward after winning backing from a renewable energy firm.

Community radio station Penistone FM has begun interviewing the first of what will eventually be dozens of older local people about their personal recollections of growing up, living and working in the town and its surrounding communities, and how these places have evolved over the last 60 years.

The interviews are being played out as part of the radio station’s programme schedule, and plans are also being put in place to eventually make them available to everyone through the Penistone Library.

A £3,000 grant from the community benefits fund linked to Banks Renewables’s nearby Hazlehead Wind Farm has been made to the radio station to fund the purchase of the recording and editing equipment required for the project.

And having had lots of positive feedback on the interviews that have been broadcast so far, the radio station is hoping to find more local interviewees to take part in the project.

Founded in 2009, Penistone FM is not-for-profit venture run by a team of over 40 volunteers, and broadcasts around 112 hours of programming every week to local communities, delivering local news and information, as well as supporting local community and voluntary groups in the promotion of their work.

Anyone over 14 years old can join the radio station as a volunteer after completing induction and training, and the station has trained more than 70 people in the last few years, as well as working with local primary schools on projects for news and weather production.

Steve Dobson, the presenter at Penistone Community Radio leading the project, says: “Community history is a popular topic in our broadcast area, and with so much having changed in Penistone and the surrounding communities over the last 50 or 60 years, there’s a huge amount of personal knowledge out there for us to gather.

“We wanted to make sure that the memories and personal experiences of people who had lived through these times could always be retained, so that everyone in our community had access to first-hand knowledge about how it had evolved into what it is today.

“We’ve had some wonderful memories coming from our interviewees so far, and the feedback we’ve had on the interviews that have gone out on the airwaves has been really pleasing.

“The funding we’ve received from Banks Renewables is ensuring that we get clean, high quality recordings of our interviewees that will stand the test of time, and we’re now looking at other ways in which we can get them out into the local community for everyone to hear when they wish.

“We’re keen to hear from even more local people who want to share their memories about our community, and can even carry them out anonymously if anyone doesn’t want to give their name.”

The Hazlehead Wind Farm Community Benefits Fund was set up to enable Banks Renewables to support a range of community and environmental improvement schemes in partnership with local people using revenues generated by the wind farm.

More than £24,000 has so far been awarded to a range of local groups from the fund, and at least £6,150 will be added to the fund every year during the remainder of the wind farm’s 25-year lifespan.

Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at Banks Renewables, adds: “This is a fantastic project that will preserve so much invaluable community knowledge that might otherwise be lost, and we’re very pleased that revenues from the Hazlehead Wind Farm are being used in such a creative way.”

Anyone interested in taking part in the Penistone Community Radio oral history project can contact the station on 01226 764646 to find out more.

Eligibility for funding from the Hazlehead Wind Farm Community Benefits Fund is normally restricted to schemes within the parish of Dunford, but projects outside this area may be eligible if it can be shown that they benefit people living within it.

Groups interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.

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