ARCHIVISTS have begun the ‘overwhelming’ task of preserving the hundreds of tributes from the Shoreham Tollbridge.
The West Sussex Record Office now holds all of the messages, which were coming under threat from the autumn weather.
“You might say why is this important? But it’s a record of an emergency – a really bad terrible tragedy – in West Sussex,” said county council leader Louise Goldsmith today (September 28).
“In the future we will have that community record for people and families.”
She described it as ‘history in the making’.
“When I was first on the bridge, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced something quite so emotional in my life.”
When I was first on the bridge, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced something quite so emotional in my lifeLouise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council
She said she was so thankful to all the community for all the tributes and said it was a privilege to conserve them for future generations to remember.
“This is living history. This is history in the making. For us to be able to record it is an absolute privilege.”
She particularly thanked all the volunteers involved and said her thoughts were very much with the families affected by the tragedy.
“It’s almost indescribable what they must be going through at the moment. We’re there to support them and help them. I do hope in time they will come to the record office and this will provide some comfort for them.”
She particularly highlighted a message from the Rising Sun pub in Upper Beeding – which was written on a card that had been dried out at the record office.
The call has gone out from the record office for members of the public to take part in the unique community archive following the air show tragedy.
County archivist Wendy Walker said she had never been involved in anything like this before and said it was the Shoreham Recovery Group who had approached the record office asking if they could help store the hundreds of tributes.
The archive will also include the books of condolence and other items.
Memory sticks are available to members of the public so they can add their own photographs and other documents to the archive. They can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
The archive will be held at West Sussex Record Office in Chichester in safe, environmentally-controlled conditions.
Archivists at the Record Office are expertly drying and conserving the hundreds of tributes. The archive will then be catalogued and will be available in the public search room for people to see and use both now and in the years to come.
It is expected to be ready to view next year, although family members of the 11 victims will be able to view it sooner.
Local media organisations are also being invited to add newspapers, film, photographs and other footage to the archive.
For more information about the archive contact West Sussex Record Office on 01243 753600 or see www.westsussex.gov.uk
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