I don’t have a military background, yet have always been fascinated by history. My parents survived occupation of their homeland during the Second World War and moved to England.
Having got into museums by chance, I worked at the Imperial War Museum for close to ten years, gaining an interest in the objects in its vast collection and the stories they told.
Before this, I attended art school and trained as a product designer. This meant learning that objects have a history. They are either discovered, invented or evolve over time, with use, practice, ritual and tradition. Many will gain significance beyond what that actually are or do. If I wasn’t designing new things, I reasoned the next best was to look after old things. Understanding what museums were about. Looking after their collections. That’s how I began volunteering. At the Design Museum, then the National Army Museum followed, and now on a collections move project at the Fusiliers. A large part of its collection has been kept in storage, so this presents a great chance to discover and research the everyday unique, the utterly bizarre and the ethnographically exotic, that has remained unpacked within an Army Regimental Museum with nearly 300 years of personal stories and heritage.
Innately curious, active and with a love for the outdoors, I spent a time travel adventuring abroad. Mountain biking in the High Atlas mountains of Morocco, the Colorado Rockies, New Mexico’s Sandia mountains, and following in the trails of Hannibal in the Alps bordering France and Italy. Seeking a new adventure, a Royal British Legion charity challenge caught my imagination. It meant trekking, not biking, but involved mountains I hadn’t seen, the Pyrenees. It also had a hidden real life story, of Second World War Allied service men being helped to get back home from the occupied countries of Europe. I’d be following in the footsteps of these evaders such as those trapped at Dunkirk, and the increasing number of airmen shot down in the latter war years over the Low Countries.
2018 marks the 25th Anniversary of this commemorative gathering, Le Chemin de la Liberté, translated as The Freedom Trail. Personally for me, this July’s “Home Run”, as they became colloquially known, will be my tenth attempt. Once more I will be inspired and humbled to reunite with an extended family of friends, many of whom have personal connection to the area and it’s history as descendants of Allied Evaders, POW Escapees and the untold Helper families of this Ariège region of Southwestern France.