We were thrilled when children’s author, Tom Palmer, contacted us with an offer to write a short story connected with our exhibition The Boys: Holocaust Survivors in the Epping Forest District.
Tom’s book After the War tells the story of the Boys and their arrival in England to begin their journey to recovery from the terrible experiences of the Holocaust on the shores of Lake Windermere.
Tom researched material for this story, speaking to historians such as Trevor Avery of the Lake District Holocaust Project, as well as local people who still remember the boys to make sure his story reflected their lives and experiences with as much historical accuracy as possible. It was important to Tom to do justice to the story of the boys this way. He includes photographs he used in his research in his book so you can see the evidence for yourself.
The three main characters in After the War are Yossi, Mordecai and Leo. They are composite characters, but elements of their lives are all based on what happened to the real boys.
Tom wanted to write a story about one of the actual boys for us and we decided to focus on Sir Ben Helfgott, whose story is so incredible it is almost hard to believe it is true. Ben survived the Holocaust, describing himself as a ‘walking skeleton’ when the war finally ended, and the camps were liberated. Yet, within ten years of his arrival in Britain he captained the British Weightlifting Team at the 1956 and 1960 Olympic Games. And, even more incredibly, in 1948 he found his sister Mala had also survived the Holocaust and they were reunited.
We had the privilege of meeting Ben, Mala and their families at reunion of the Boys held at the museum and at Holmehurst, the house where Ben and his friend came to stay in the district. We are very grateful that Ben and his family gave us permission to tell his story, to keep inspiring future generations with this story of survival and hope.
You can read Tom’s story His name is Ben on our website and find out more about Tom and After the War on his website
Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) takes place each year on 27 January. We remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of other people killed under Nazi Persecution and in genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
The museum will be hosting a special exhibition The Boys: Holocaust Survivors in the Epping Forest District from 8 May to 4 September 2021. This will tell the incredible story of the young Holocaust survivors, young men between the ages of 16 and 21, who came to stay at Holmehurst, a house on the borders of Buckhurst Hill and Loughton from December 1945 to January 1947 as part of their recovery. We think up to 30 young men came to Holmehurst, and they became known as the Loughton Boys.
The Loughton boys were part of the first group of around 300 young survivors who were brought to Britain after the war. A total of 715 children eventually came to Britain. They are collectively known as ‘The Boys’ as, despite the mix of genders and ages in the group, the majority were teenage boys.
You can find out more about them and their incredible personal stories of recovery in the new education resource packs available on our website, which include profiles of each boy.
HMD is for everyone. Each year across the UK, thousands of people come together to learn more about the past and take action to create a safer future. We know they learn more, empathise more and do more.
If you would like to take part in Holocaust Memorial Day, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s website has suggested activities you can do at home to mark the day.
The Holocaust threatened the fabric of civilisation, and genocide must still be resisted every day. Our world often feels fragile and vulnerable and we cannot be complacent. Even in the UK, prejudice and the language of hatred must be challenged by us all.
Where’s Wally? Spooky Museum Search – find Wally in Epping Forest District Museum!
This Halloween, Wally, the world’s favourite children’s book character – wearing a red-and-white striped shirt and black-rimmed specs – will be travelling the country, appearing in museums, including Epping Forest District Museum in Waltham Abbey. Families will be able to join the search for Wally at Epping Forest District Museum as part of the Where’s Wally? Spooky Museum Search, organised by Walker Books and Kids in Museums, to celebrate the release of the new book, Where’s Wally? Spooky Spotlight Search.
Over 75 museums around the UK have signed up to run the promotion,which is perfectly timed for Halloween. The activity will run in participating museums from 9th October – 1st November 2020 and will be tailored within each museum to comply with their social distancing measures. Additional online activities will be available for those families choosing not to visit museums in person.
Families will be able to visit their local participating museum to hunt for Wally amongst their collections, as well as spell out a spooky phrase with letters hidden alongside mini Wally standees, and receive a special “I found Wally!” bookmark on completion of the search, as well as the chance to enter the Where’s Wally? and Kids in Museums grand prize draw competition to win an ArtFund Family Membership and a bundle of Where’s Wally? goodies.
Walker will provide participating museums with an array of supporting print and digital materials including mini standees, activity sheets, posters, bookmarks, pin badges for staff and social media assets.
Alison Bowyer, Executive Director of Kids in Museums, said:
“We’re thrilled to be working with Walker Books again this year. The last few months have been a challenging time for the heritage sector so we are pleased to support even more museums to hold a fun and safe activity this October. We hope to encourage families back into heritage sites and help them enjoy all the rich experiences on offer.”
For more information on the Where’s Wally? Spooky Museum Search at Epping Forest District Museum, call 01992 716882 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
This week’s family fun art activity also comes from Leanne and the Art Resource boxes. This time, all you need to do is take a sheet of a paper and fold it into quarters. Unfold it again, then in one box draw circles, in another draw wavy lines, in a third draw a spiral then in the fourth try a scribble. Add colour to the spaces you’ve created with your lines. The artist Paul Klee talked about drawing as being like taking a line for a walk – this activity is a great way to practice this!
We are sorry not to be welcoming you to the museum for our annual Easter Egg Hunt. However, we thought we’d share some alternative chocolate-free ways of doing Egg Hunts that we enjoy.
Have a go at our Easter Egg Letter Hunt – there are 9 eggs, each with a different letter on them. Cut out the letter clues and hide them in different places, or if you haven’t got a printer just cut egg shapes out of paper or card and write letters on them.
The challenge is to find the letters around your home and garden and rearrange the letters to see what word it makes!
There’s some blank eggs so you can have a go at making up your own trail based on different words.
Another fun thing to try is an Easter scavenger hunt – this really gets your brain working! Think of a word that suits this time of year – it could be anything like bunny, spring, daffodil etc. Then try and find things in your house that begin with each letter of that word. I’ve had a go with Easter and managed to find …
Egg, Apple, Snake, Triceratops, Envelope, Rock
Don’t forget to share a photo of your word and objects – we love to see how creative you can be.
We are sorry not to see you all at the museum for our Easter Family Fun activities. We thought you might be missing the museum as much as we are so why not have a go at the Easter Activity at home?
If you would like to have a go at one of the activities at home, here’s the Easter Bunny Mask Template 1 for our Easter Bunny Mask – it’s simple and fun to make at home.
Resources you’ll need
sheet of paper or card
printer (if not you can draw out the template
cotton wool and any other materials to make your bunny as fun as possible.
string or strip of card
All you need is a sheet of paper or card. You can print the template off, colour it in and cut it out. If you don’t have a printer just have a go at drawing it yourself – you can even fold the paper in half lengthways so you just draw half the bunny face, then cut it out while still folded to give you the whole mask!
If you have glue you could add cotton wool and any other materials to make your bunny as fun as possible. Just tie on some string or staple a strip of card from a cereal box on the side to make a handle to hold the mask in front of your face! Happy Easter!!
On Wednesday 20 November, year 8 students from King Harold
Business & Enterprise Academy, took over the running of the museum as part
of Takeover Day.
Visitors took part in a tour, activities and a trail all
devised and led by the students, and were in charge of our Twitter and Facebook
accounts for the day.
Three students were even interviewed live on BBC Essex radio
– something they only found out about an hour before going on air.
The 10 pupils worked with staff, in a series of preparations
days, to learn more about the day to day running of the museum; they were given
a behind the scenes tour, handled objects from the collections, created posters
and content for their tours.
They themed their take over around climate change, linking
it to the current Ice Age exhibition; this period was a natural form of climate
change, comparing it to now as more manmade through global warming.
One gallery had been declared a ‘no go zone’ to represent
how, through climate change, parts of the world will disappear and be submerged
in the oceans. Another gallery was filled with one week’s worth of rubbish to
show how much waste each household has and to encourage visitors to recycle as
much as they can.
One activity the year 8s run was to make little trees from
cork, a cocktail stick, beads and ripped paper. Each tree represented a real
endangered tree and was given a label with details of where the tree currently
survives and why it is under threat of extinction. This small forest of trees
will be on display until the beginning of December.
A word from the
We asked the pupils what they did as part of Takeover Day,
what they enjoyed and what they learnt that surprised them about working in a
museum – here are their answers:
Mark: I did the tours [and enjoyed] all of it.
Rhianna: I was posting on social media updating Twitter and Facebook for the public and update our #takeoverday . I enjoyed making captions and doing the social media.
Obinna: I did a tour, [and enjoyed] doing tours and being on the radio.
Dmithry: I did the tours with Mark, [enjoyed] all of it and [learnt that working in a museum] is really fun.
Joni: I took part in the tree activity. I enjoyed making trees and helping others make them. I was surprised that I was going to be on the radio.
Louie: I advertised outside, I had a go at a tour, I spoke to the chairman and helped people make trees. [I enjoyed] speaking to the chairman 1 on 1 (I found that really exciting). I’m quite good at advertising and drawing people in.
Lilly: We learnt about climate change and we done tour and other jobs that people who work here do. [I enjoyed] everything. I learnt a lot about climate change and how people work in the museum.
Rhiannon: I was posting on social media updating Twitter and Facebook about our takeover day. I enjoyed making the different captions for our tweets and taking the pictures, I also enjoyed spotting our woolly mammoth. I learnt how much work, effort and time goes into the takeover day.
Archie: I made trees, helped with snakes and ladders and made a poster. [I enjoyed] making trees. [I learnt working in a museum] is easy.
Takeover Day is a
national celebration (created by Kids in Museums) of young people’s
contributions to museums, galleries, arts organisations, archives and heritage
sites. It’s a day on which they work alongside staff and volunteers to
participate in the life of the organisation or venue.
Where: St John’s C of E Primary School, High Road, Buckhurst Hill, IG9 5RX
When: Saturday 29 September
Time: 3pm – 7pm
Price: Free (some activities may be charged for; all money raised will go to the school)
Epping Forest District Council’s Museums, Heritage and Culture team and St John’s C of E Primary School, Buckhurst Hill are hosting an event to celebrate the life and work of local artist Walter Spradbery.
In 1938, Spradbery and his wife Dorothy held an ‘Open Air Social’ with stalls, sideshows, donkey rides, traditional dances and art displays. This will be recreation of that event on its 80th anniversary.
There will be a specially choreographed dance performance by Flux Dance Collective who has been working with pupils from the school to create a piece inspired by Spradbery. A historical interpreter will play the role of Walter Spradbery, leading tours into the wilderness to visit the site where the house once stood. The day will end with a fun performance by Impropera, the world’s only improvised Opera Company. Buckhurst Hill Community Association will have an art display, and there will be a small exhibition about Walter Spradbery.
He lived next door to St John’s C of E Primary School, in a house known as ‘The Wilderness’ from 1929 – 1969. The site is now part of Epping Forest and a stone plaque marks where the house once stood.
This event is part of a programme of activities for the ‘Walter Spradbery, Artist in War and Peace’ exhibition, at Epping Forest District Museum, Waltham Abbey; on display from Saturday 21 July to Saturday 22 December 2018. For more information visit http://www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/museum
Spradbery is best known for his poster designs for London Transport, one of which was recently used on the new signboards marking the boundaries of Epping Forest. He and his wife, opera singer Dorothy D’Orsay, also held many musical and opera performances in the gardens of ‘The Wilderness’ for the local community.
Spradbery was also a committed pacifist. He served in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War, receiving the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his bravery in rescuing injured comrades under intense enemy fire.