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MNH director joins Tell Me steering group 17 May 2010

Edmund SouthworthThe director of Manx National Heritage, Edmund Southworth, has joined the Tell Me Project steering group. Mr Southworth said Manx National Heritage recognised the value of its partnership status with the project and was keen to play an active role in its development. He added: ‘We share many of the same values and aspirations and believe we have much to contribute to the project.’

He said the Manx Museum had held ‘the national memory’ of the people of the Isle of Man for some 125 years, including original recordings of Manx Gaelic, and that the organisation was at the heart of preserving the memories of the community.

‘We also have technical expertise developed through working with the local community on oral history projects, while the access we have to archives and libraries in the UK and further afield allows us to keep abreast of what other organisations are doing and ensures the Isle of Man is not isolated from developments elsewhere,’ he continued.

Mr Southworth, whose wife Helen was a former chief executive of the St Helens branch of Age Concern, began his career as an archaeologist. He was previously director of Lancashire Museum Service, where he was involved in oral history initiatives, including an intergenerational study of the textile industry in the region that looked at the integration of the immigrant into the local community.

‘The Tell Me Project is very exciting,’ he said. ‘It’s well resourced, reaches a high number of schools and enjoys excellent links with Manx Radio.’

Mr Southworth said part of the project’s success was its balance between the special and the ordinary, rather then a reliance on ‘iconic’ events, such as the Second World War or just talking to famous people. ‘Manx National Heritage can offer the use of raw material - simple objects from the past, a bus ticket or a piece of knitting for example - that can serve as a “prompt” to help unlock older people’s long-term memories. Touch and, more especially, smell of flowers or herbs, for example, have been found to be extremely effective in triggering memory. I believe “reminiscence as therapy” - stimulating older people’s memories and drawing them into a more social environment where they can engage with others – has the potential to take the Tell Me Project into a new and exciting direction.’

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