All trained up and ready to go!

Anita Broad, Oral History Trainer, front left, with some of the workshop participants

In early August 2023 a group of SMTC members took part in our special 'Memory Catcher Workshop’ with Oral History Trainer, Anita Broad. They learned invaluable techniques for collecting and preserving captivating stories and cherished memories from the past, and will be putting the training to good use in the coming months as we roll out our Centenary Oral History Project, made possible by players of the National Lottery.

SMTC, previously known as Shrewsbury Amateur Operatic Society (SAOS), has graced the stage in our county town for the past 100 years. As 2023 commemorates a century of extraordinary performances, we have been granted funding by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to celebrate the milestone and explore our past with this unique history project.

Whilst the workshop primarily targeted SMTC members, the funding enabled us to make it open to the wider community. Several individuals from outside SMTC enthusiastically took part and gained valuable insights into the art of oral history interviewing, all at no cost. They have exciting plans to use these newfound skills for their own projects, including family history research and documenting a segment of motoring history.

Anita's expertise extended beyond interview techniques; she also provided hands-on experience in using the relevant recording equipment, and participants learned all about the associated data protection compliance and how to document recordings. Project leader and training participant, Karen Muxworthy, commented, “There’s so much more to Oral History than I first imagined, but Anita made the two day workshop relaxed and unintimidating. It’s good to know that Anita is on hand at the other end of the phone and email for continued guidance, if needed.”

The small team of trained ‘Memory Catchers’ we now have will play a vital role in safeguarding first-hand experiences of SMTC members and stories passed down through the generations, ensuring that future generations can enjoy and learn from these remarkable narratives. Interviews will be deposited at the Shropshire Archives. Some will also feature in an exciting new exhibition at Shrewsbury Museum, opening in September, celebrating 100 years of musical theatre performance in our town.