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Like many others, I have been immensely touched by the outpouring of emotion and interest displayed by so many people across the country to this month’s commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. A celebration of both the achievements of those pilots and a commemoration of the sacrifice that was made to ensure victory. The sheer volume of people who queued for hours to catch a glimpse of the famous Spitfire flypast last week is testimony to the gratitude felt by very many today towards those who gave so much in order that the United Kingdom we live in today has remained the land of our forefathers.

 b2ap3_thumbnail_Spitfire_20150922-150801_1.jpgFrom May to September 1940, the German Luftwaffe threw its might into an intensive attack on strategic British infrastructure and air defenses, in preparation for a full scale land invasion endeavouring to secure air superiority to ensure safe transit over the Channel for the invading land forces. The response of the nation’s aircrew - in reality only about 3000 men, drew on extraordinary reserves of bravery and selfless altruism.  Those young men, supported by both men and women of the ground support crew, flew raid after raid, often so tired they could barely stay awake, engaging the waves of enemy bombers and often heavily outnumbered. It was not uncommon for only a handful of Spitfires to take on 50 or 60 german bombers, flying in formation.   


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Testimonial from those young pilots shows them to have displayed an almost unimaginable  (to our eyes anyway) bravery. Many were sent up to do battle after only ten hours of solo flying, very much ‘by the seat of their pants’. Resources and training were in incredibly short supply and evidence shows that there was a general lack of facilities including a shortage of aircraft to be used as practice targets. Many had not even had any weapons training and thus were handicapped by an inability to shoot their weapons very effectively. Loss of life and crash landings were a fact of life and they simply had to put it behind them and obey the next order to ‘scramble’ when it came.

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In the famous words of Winston Churchill: "The gratitude of every home in our island, in our Empire and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen, who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the world war by their prowess and devotion. "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

 

My generation, born just after the end of the war, was one which did not actually experience the war but we are children of those who did and thus the stories and history have a personal resonance which can be lacking for generations who come after. It was amazing then to find that people of every age, young and old came together last week to celebrate the effort made by those brave young pilots 75 years ago. The sight of those old Spitfires flying across the English countryside certainly brought a tear to my eyes and brought back many memories to my 90 year old father. From pride and patriotism to deep sadness and horror  - most of us cannot help but to try to imagine what it must have been like to have both been part of that age and to empathise with the feelings and thoughts of those left behind - the mothers, wives, lovers, sisters and brothers. Like many, I wonder how I would have dealt with trials and the loss of that era. 

And yet coupled with that is a massive sense of pride that our little country rose up and selflessly gave of its finest in order to protect the values which we held and indeed still hold dear.

Definitely worth a visit is the moving Battle of Britain Memorial Trust  at Capel Le Ferne in Kent (http://www.battleofbritainmemorial.org/), a dedicated site in tribute to the bravery and sacrifice shown by the aircrew who fought and died for their country.

So, I hope you enjoyed following the coverage of events last week and if you feel inspired to try and find  out the stories that shaped your family’s history, why not give it a go? And when you’ve got those stories and photos together, send them to us and create a special family history collage http://collaggecompany.co.uk/collage-for.html to keep those memories alive.

Good luck and happy hunting!

Just send us your family photos & memorabilia, call us on 01420 562208 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - we would love to hear from you!

                                                                      www.collagecompany.co.uk

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Watching a really interesting documentary on the social history of women the other week, I was struck again forcibly by how truly humungous have been the changes in both the role of women in our society, and in attitudes towards them, over the past 100 years. Reading the wealth of material which has been floating about recently in commemoration of the anniversary of the First World War, it strikes me that my generation of late 50‘ish (aargh...nearly the big 60!)  women are probably the generation who truly had a foot in both the old world and the new.

Most young women today can sort of accept that full voting equality was only achieved in 1928 (although that seems to them a date in a history book rather than a time which was well in living memory when I was young) but simply stare at you in disbelief when you point out  that in my youth, the vast majority of women not only were unlikely to have had a career that was not menial, but also would have had no money of their own. It was not until the 1970’s can you believe, that a woman was able to take out a mortgage on her own without having to provide a male relative as a guarantor - and that was when she wished to pay the mortgage herself! It was also only at this time that the first Acts begun to be passed to enforce parity of pay between the sexes. A woman’s role was that of a subservient home-maker whose job it was to look after a husband or parents and not to express opinions about anything which really mattered. I recall my Grandmother (born in 1898) telling me never to express a controversial opinion nor to mention sex, religion or politics - frankly about the only subjects I find interesting! By law women were required to divulge any income they may possess to their husbands, whilst men, on the other hand, had no requirement to divulge any information pertaining to their financial affairs to their wives at all. Her income was his but his was most certainly not hers! Furthermore, no man in those days would have dreamed of undertaking any housework or childcare, both of which remained clearly the female preserve until well into the late 20th Century.    Womens Lib, social change, social history, women's rights, photos, billboardsWhilst the two wars had originally brought about striking changes in the work place with women stepping into the working world by necessity, the impact did not seem to sustain past the end of the war as many had hoped and the vast majority of women until the middle of the Century reverted back to subservient roles and would only find employment in low paid shop and factory work or caring positions. Women were few and far between in professional careers and generally were not encouraged into further education.

 

In real terms therefore, it is only in the last 50 or 60 years or so that the vast majority of the massive change in social attitudes has come about. Many of the young today simply do not have a clue about the huge strides which have been made in terms of equality and attitudes, nor about the massive effort which it took by legions of women who fought to create a world with more balanced gender opportunity. It would be simply unthinkable today to encourage a boy to strive to gain a university degree and not suggest the same route for a girl, nor to advertise a job which specified one sex or another. Likewise women have rapidly gained traction in many professions previously seen as male preserves such as medicine, scientific research and other bastions including engineering and manufacturing.It is heartening to see the confident, bright and educated young women of today aspiring into all career sectors, regardless of sexuality and not even thinking about accepting any personal relationship where the two parties are not equals. The young of today simply expect to share chores and childcare, to pursue the career which seems likeliest to succeed and to partner each other in a much more meaningful way than was the case last century. 

Women's Lib, social history, social change, photos, protest, demos, women's rightsLest we get too complacent though, there is still a way to go. Depressing statistics remind us that attitudes still need to change further: women only hold 20% of powerful political offices globally, while female representation on corporate boards averages a measly 12% and, frighteningly, 95% of domestic violence victims are women.

 

As I say, a way to go but let us not forget the progress made to date and I for one am so grateful that my daughter is able to reap the benefits of a much healthier and balanced society than the one I grew up in. 

The Collage Company creates bespoke photo collages of your own special memories.

Just send us your family photos & memorabilia, call us on 01420 562208 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - we would love to hear from you!

www.collagecompany.co.uk

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Even though I am not exactly young any more (well OK, definitely well past middle age!), I still love and get excited by birthdays! So I am thrilled to tell you that we have nearly reached The Collage Company’s 4th birthday - yippee and nearly Happy Birthday to Us!!!

As ever, the last year seems to have flown past and we have achieved a lot both in developing the brand and building sales - so a massive thank you to all our clients past and present. We love getting feedback from our clients and hearing wonderful comments such as “ I can’t tell you how thrilled I am”...or “the product was just fantastic” is just brilliant! Please keep them coming!

Thoughts of birthdays led me to wondering what celebrations we should plan (more of this later) and to exploring a few of the weird and wonderful ways in which people around the globe celebrate their birthdays, other than the obvious balloons, bunting, streamers and cakes!

For instance, only in America (I think?!) does the latest craze seem to be ‘smash-cakes’ - cakes smothered in  icing and decoration  purely for the toddler to destroy and make as much mess as they wish??? Other rather odd (well, to me anyway!) customs include being soaked to the skin and having flour thrown all over you (Jamaica why??), birthday nose-greasing (Canada - weird!!) and having your face pushed into your cake (Venezuela)  which strikes me as a tragic waste of rather yummy birthday cake! In Vietnam New Year’s Day is everybody’s birthday and children celebrate the year and the lunar symbol under which they were born - certainly wouldn’t feel like your special day would it?!

b2ap3_thumbnail_usa-smash-cakeweb.jpgCaribbean Flour faceVenezuelan Cake Plunge!

And what about presents? I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I do get rather excited about presents on my birthday - and surprises are definitely the best type! But I would definitely have a sense of humour failure if I were to receive the gift that one friend’s brother-in law received from his wife for his birthday - a plot in a graveyard!! Other odd gifts I have come across included an urn with relative’s ashes in it (?!!), an ironing board (do you think he is still alive?!) and a case of Spam...definitely NOT the thought that counts!

Luckily, the next time you are stuck for what to buy for that difficult person who has everything or the elderly relation who doesn’t want more ‘things‘ - think unique photo collage and your job is done! Our beautiful montages are the most personal of presents and will bring a smile to the face of just about anyone!

Just send us your pics, call us on 01420 562208 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. -and the job is done - we would love to hear from you!

www.collagecompany.co.uk

PS. Why not follow us on Pinterest?!! www.pinterest.com/emmycollageco and on Twitter @CollageCompany 

MAY 2014

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Waking up this morning on Anzac Day to see the moving images on the news of Prince William and Katherine attending a pre-dawn ceremony to commemorate Anzac in Australia, got me thinking about the incredible bravery of all the troops who fought in the Great War and particularly about those who enlisted from what was then the British Empire, many of whom were from Australia and New Zealand.

On this one hundred year anniversary of the First World War, our lives today seem a million miles from what those young men and their families experienced. What must it have been like for them - most of whom would never have travelled overseas before - to join up to British Forces, be transported to the other side of the globe away from family and familiarity and fight for a King and Country who must have seemed a far-distant concept?b2ap3_thumbnail_images-1.jpg

 

 They were then launched into the disastrous Dardanelles campaign, with the main landing taking place at Gallipoli, one of the worst failures of the war and the scene of some of the most terrible losses. On just the first day of the campaign, over 900 Australian troops were lost. After eight months of savage fighting and huge casualties (on both sides) from both the battles and disease, the campaign ended in failure and the invasion force was withdrawn to Egypt.

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Having spent a happy afternoon setting up my new Pinterest account (more of what this is about in a moment for those of you saying “what on earth is Pinterest!”) I have been pondering on the whole phenomena of social media and the massive changes which have taken place in only a few short years.

How we communicate and, more importantly almost, what records we leave behind for future generations, have both changed so momentously and with such speed that is must represent one of the greatest social changes ever known to mankind.

For those of you still wondering what Pinterest actually is, I would say to go and have a look! (www.pinterest.com/emmycollageco ). It is like a global online picture pinboard which anybody can add to or view. You can find inspirations, quirkyness, ideas and much much more. The whole of life is there in pictures, from the weird and whacky to the practical and everything in between.  b2ap3_thumbnail_Screen-Shot-2014-04-16-at-16.30.12.pngBut this really did get me thinking (in a somewhat Luddite way!) of how will future historians and social chroniclers manage to research our lives today? From Roman times, it has been possible to search through letters, diaries, musings and art to delve into peoples’ lives and attitudes and build pictures of those who are long dead. Where will this information now be found? Will our blogs still be in the ether in a hundred years time? Who  will be still looking at Pinterest and what will it tell them in the year 2093?!

Whilst I feel that there may be a major issue for historical chroniclers, more importantly, what about our own personal histories - the stories of our families and our forebears? Our memories and heritage remain key to our identities and it is vital that these are preserved for the generations to come.

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How better to keep these family stories and memories alive than by reverting to a marriage  of the good old fashioned medium of print, with modern software which enables us to create digital photographic collages using photos old and new. These unique memories will then be there for your children and their children to enjoy for years to come.b2ap3_thumbnail_Nicola-RobinsonBlack-paint.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

The next time you would like those memories enshrined in a unique photo montage of your family story - just send us your pics, call us on 01420 562208 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - we would love to hear from you!

 

 

 

www.collagecompany.co.uk

PS. Why not follow us on Pinterest?!! www.pinterest.com/emmycollageco

April 2014

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