West Cheshire Museums First World War Curator
1045. Nigel Meyrick
Nigel Meyrick, from Chester, curates major First World War exhibitions at ‘West Cheshire Museums’ and engages his community by displaying their personal stories from the war.
Nigel first got involved by participating in the ‘Cheshire’s Great War Stories’ exhibition, collecting and recording stories, images and documents from more than 500 local people. Following this success, Nigel curated two further exhibitions using objects from the community which have been attended by more than 12,000 visitors: ‘Salt from the Somme’, which took place in 2016 to commemorate Cheshire’s contributions to the First World War, and ‘Letters Home: Communications on the Front’, which has run from July this year and finishes this November. Nigel also personally collated the material gathered from the exhibition roadshows to make them nationally accessible, involving archiving 2,216 photographs and documents, half of which have now been added to the Imperial War Museum’s online archive.
Nigel’s award was presented at the Cheshire Military Museum in Chester by Leader of Cheshire West & Chester Council, Samantha Dixon (pictured above).
In a personal letter to Nigel, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“The success of the exhibitions you have curated at ‘West Cheshire Museums’ is a testament to your historical expertise and remarkable dedication to sharing important local heritage with your community. In the centenary year of the Armistice, your archival work and public outreach has been truly invaluable in ensuring remembrance of the First World War continues for future generations.”
Councillor Samantha Dixon, Leader of Chester West & Chester Council, said:
“Nigel Meyrick’s commitment and dedication to telling the story of the First World War in Cheshire is inspirational and I am delighted he has been recognised by this prestigious national award. As a result of his unstinting efforts, people across the county now have a greater appreciation of the poignant human stories behind the Great War.”
“I only became interested in the First World War after researching my wife’s great grandfather about 15 years ago. He was a Gunner with the 106th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. He went to France in 1916 but sadly died of his wounds in 1917 at the Battle of Passendaele, and is buried in Belgium in Dozinghem Military Cemetery. I owe everything to Reginald Peers, as without the birth of his only son, my Wife and Children would not be here. After researching Reginald, I thought I wanted to help other people looking for their lost relatives from the First World War.
“Over the last four years my First World War work has involved me working with various Cheshire towns and villages, helping organise roadshows, extensive research and putting together exhibitions, much of which I have constructed with friends and family, such as the mock up of a First World War trench for the Lion Salt Works ‘From Salt to the Somme’, and at present ‘Letters Home’.
“During the last two years I have also visited local schools with another volunteer, Colin Mann, to bring the soldiers’ stories to life. It is time-consuming work as I also have a full time job as an electrical project engineer, but it immensely rewarding when you see people connecting to their past and taking pride in the history of their area. My work has also unearthed artefacts that might never have come to light and these have now been recorded for future generations. The award is a huge honour and I am delighted to receive this recognition for my work.”