Open your ears to the Hear and Now
From tales of life as a wartime evacuee to the remarkable world of a blind deep-sea diver, an exciting new radio project is recording the lives of Torbay’s residents to share online. Chrissy Harris speaks to Kate Rudman from Sound Communities to find out more. Read, listen and join in the story!
David Musgrove is talking in detail about diving 130 feet below the surface of the sea to explore a beautiful underwater world, bursting with life. What is incredible, however, is that David is blind. During a six-minute radio broadcast, he describes hearing the ‘crunch, crunch, crunch’ of wrasse as they chomp away at limpets and the loud clicks of snapping prawns.
David is just one of many Torbay residents who have taken the time to share their life experiences for a unique radio project. Hear and Now, organised by local radio broadcasting company Sound Communities, is a series of oral histories, collected by a team of mostly young volunteers from people up and down the Bay.
During recording sessions at key venues, including Paignton, Library, Torquay Museum and the Palace Theatre Arena, residents have talked about everything from seeing David Bowie perform at the Compass Club in Torquay to lucky escapes from falling bombs near the seafront during the Second World War.
These extraordinary stories from ordinary people are now being shared online, broadcast on radio stations and played at festivals, schools and community centres as a way of celebrating life in Torbay and bringing its generations together.
“The real highlight for me has been watching young and old people connect in conversation,” says Kate Rudman, a director at Sound Communities and project organiser. “Everyone is actually listening to each other and properly interacting.”
Despite our very visual age, Hear and Now has highlighted the importance of the spoken word and how useful radio is when it comes to discovering more about our heritage.
“I’m really excited about the potential impact this could have in terms of the future of audio,” says Kate, an experienced teacher and trainer who has a master’s degree in media education and radio production.
Some highlights so far from Hear and Now’s precious archive include recollections by Elizabeth Bradley. She describes the moment in 1942 when her mother pushed her against her baby sister’s pram to protect her when a bomb fell in Rosary Road, Torquay.
Elizabeth Janis remembers arriving in Devon as a wartime evacuee and Cyril Clark’s strong local accent has already made him a star of the project, which is set to run for two years.
“Oh Cyril! He is fantastic,” says Kate, adding that she has been asking people via social media to help decipher some of the Devon dialect he uses. “Everything he says is so lovely because it’s in that local accent.”
More recording sessions are planned throughout the year, including events next month to tie in with the Bay’s Sharing Stories Festival (see dates and places below). There are also plans to collect stories by visiting care homes and schools.
“We’re so pleased with how it’s going,” says Kate. “At Sound Communities we are always looking for projects that are going to extend the skills of our young people that we work with. The Hear and Now project just came about quite naturally.
“It’s been great for everyone involved so far. Up until now, there hasn’t really been that space for the generations to learn something from each other.
“I’ve feel like I understand and know Torbay a lot better now since we started the project in September.”
Former deep-sea diver David Musgrove says he’s delighted to have been a part of Hear and Now, which is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Ageing Well Torbay, Big Lottery Fund, Devon Community Foundation and Torbay Council.
“It’s a great project,” says David. “I enjoyed doing the recordings.”
Fellow interviewee Mervyn Toogood, 84, agrees it’s good for young and old to sit down and talk now and then.
“Everyone’s got a story to tell,” he says, before revealing that he has recently taken up keyboard playing and is available for parties and other events. “There’s always a little bit of something interesting about everybody if you take the time to listen.”
Here are the dates and places to get involved and share you story. The project welcomes all ages and backgrounds - you just need a story from your life to tell and Sound Communities will record it with you. Email or phone Kate from Sound Communities to book a time slot: firstname.lastname@example.org | 01803 84-982
1st March, 12-4pm at Brixham Museum
3rd March, 12-3pm at Torquay Museum
23rd March, 2.30-5.30pm at Paignton Library
23rd March, 7.30pm Palace Theatre Arena
27 April, 11-2pm Torquay Town Centre - Unit 28, Fleet Walk
4 May, 11-1pm Dunboyne Court St Marychurch Road, Torquay
Images & audio: Copyright 2018 Sound Communities