At The Heart of The Community, by Museum Director, Mary Godwin.
One of the key aims of our museum is to be at the heart of the community. The barracks has played a huge part in the life of the town over the past 150 years but our building is now the only one remaining that the public can visit. The recent redevelopment of the Barracks’ parade ground immediately behind The Keep has thrown this into sharp focus, with numerous new houses, some overlooking our boundary wall, almost ready for people to move into. Happily, the new development has adopted street names that refer to the heritage of the site, including ‘Parade Square’ and ‘Bugle Way’, but we will need to keep working hard to ensure we can stay in our historic home and keep the Barracks’ history alive.
Being an active part of the community also means working in the spirit of collaboration and partnership with other organisations to benefit the town. We believe that by working together to gain more recognition for Bodmin as a brilliant place to visit, we can benefit the museum and everyone who lives and works here, supporting the local visitor economy and making everyone proud of what the town has to offer. This year we’re planning lots of joint marketing with other attractions and we’re branching out with a Bodmin promotional stand at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) Travel and Tourism Show in March. Our major World War 1 project, The Trench, is also a collaboration with our neighbour the Bodmin and Wenford Steam Railway and many community volunteers.
Another project dependent on community involvement is our handmade poppy tribute. In November we’ll be mounting a spectacular display of 9,687 handmade poppies, representing each of the DCLI (4,282), plus all Cornishmen from the other armed forces who died in the Great War. All these poppies are being made by people in the community, young and old, and it’s proving to be a great opportunity for us to build a new community of people who value the museum. We’re over half way to our poppy target now and the display will be in place in time for the armistice on 11th November.
But our community isn’t just about geographical proximity, it also includes people all over the country who have served with the Light Infantry. This year marks the Regiment’s 50th anniversary and to mark the occasion we’ll be opening a new exhibition on the day of our LI reunion in September. This will incorporate the personal testimonies that we’re collecting from Light Infantrymen as part of our exciting ‘Voices of the Light Infantry’ project. We hope that it will make a fitting tribute in this important anniversary year.