Monday, 8 March 2021

New stories of local World War One heroes

 It's two years now since the centenary of the end of World War One. But our research on uncovering local stories continues. Keep up-to-date with developments on our dedicated website Heart of Conflict.

We've recently found more descendants of men who signed up for the Royal Army Medical Corps under Dr William Blackwood of Camborne.

And discovered some heart-breaking stories of young Cornishmen who signed up for the Canadian Expeditionary Force and were killed on the Western Front.

Click here to visit

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

"We're never doing an anti-immigrant story again"

Very good to hear about a total change of direction at the Daily Express BBC Radio 4 - The Media Show, "We're never doing an anti-immigrant story again"

In the programme: "Daily Express editor Gary Jones is Labour-voting, backed Remain, and wants his paper to reflect multicultural Britain. He tells Amol Rajan how he effected a complete change of direction at the tabloid, once known for its dodgy weather forecasts and anti-immigrant stance."

When we started work on migration-related issues in 2006, the Daily Express was one of the tabloid newspapers fuelling anti-immigration feeling with a stream of stories and incendiary headlines.

Hats off, Gary Jones.

Friday, 22 January 2021

An interesting read ....

 A big thank you to Keno Toriello, who sent me a link to this article in the Guardian: This is what it's like to be an intensive care unit nurse right now.

It's by 'Anonymous' - and a good read. Especially when you get to the powerful and moving final paragraph that rounds it off:

"I’m an EU migrant, like a vast number of people working in intensive care. Many of us were working on New Year’s Eve when the law changed, and we went from being residents of this country to being guests with settled status. When all this is over, I hope there is an acknowledgement that we didn’t leave this country; we didn’t leave our posts, even when it felt like Britain abandoned us. The Brexit vote was about taking back control of our borders, but it turns out they were worried about the wrong kind of foreign invader – it was the virus that was the problem. I hope people will remember that when it came to it, it was those people who chose to make this country home who kept the lights on."

Surgical theatres and recovery departments being into intensive care wards for Covid patients. What would the NHS do without nurses like the author?

Keno Toriello, originally from Chile, is working with us on I PACKED THIS MYSELF, our work to break down prejudice against people from overseas living in Cornwall and often playing a vital role in the local economy.

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Imperial War Museum blog

 Great to see our work in Cornwall on the World War One centenary featured on the Imperial War Museum blog...

Click here to read more and scroll down to discover a really good spotlight on the various projects we delivered - all under the umbrella of our Heritage Lottery funded project 'Heart of Conflict'.

Wednesday, 2 December 2020


 We're continuing our workshops on the workers from overseas who play a vital role in the Cornish economy. The aim is to highlight the role that they play and the issues they might face when making the huge life decision to leave home and create a life elsewhere.

Most recently we Zoomed in to Mousehole Primary School where children afterwards created wonderful suitcases illustrating important journeys they have made in life.

Tess drew a picture of her much-loved horse (she told us on Zoom that if she had to leave home she'd take her horse with her). And also recalled a journey she made at the age of three when she went to visit her grandmother in Norwich. Her grandmother often comes down to Cornwall but this was the only time she has ever visited her grandmother's house.  She doesn't even really remember this trip. But the idea of it is important to her.

Flora remembered a 'research' trip. Her favourite animals are wolves and on a holiday to France her family visited a wolf park - where they also saw vultures. This was a voyage of discovery for Flora.

We've also recently delivered a workshop to more than 20 curates training to be vicars in the Diocese of Truro.  Our Romanian volunteers Dragos and Mirabela joined the workshop and talked about their lives.

This was a large audience and there were some interesting reactions...

Good ideas to emerge: the idea of putting up notices in church porches to welcome workers from overseas. We can help by providing templates for that: anyone interested should email

At the same time, the curates also had another important thought: it would be important to combine this invitation and poster with some 'in-house' training so that congregations offered a real and heartfelt welcome.

We all agreed: the prejudice and difficulties that workers from overseas can face is not unique to Cornwall: far from it. It happens all over the country - and the world.

The workshop also threw a spotlight on the fact that Dragos and Mirabela's journey was life changing. They not only changed countries, they changed jobs and were faced with the immediate challenge of integrating into an environment that was inevitably alien, initially.

This is very different from the journey of a professional from one country to another who would find a lifestyle very similar to their home country. This is a journey of discovery into the unknown, and it's not always easy.


Monday, 9 November 2020

Remembering Arthur Harris from Camborne


Remembrance Sunday 2020 brought some fresh news of events of 100 years ago.

The great niece of one of the men who joined the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) under Dr William Blackwood in 1914 came forward with information about Arthur Harris, her great uncle, who was sadly killed on 8 July 1917.

Arthur, a miner, was one of the men from Camborne and Redruth who joined Dr Blackwood in the RAMC after war broke out. These men were in St John Ambulance teams at the mines.  Dr Blackwood  - a popular local figure - had helped to train them so that they could provide much-needed emergency medical care there when needed.

After signing up, the men became part of the RAMC’s 25th Field Ambulance, a unit made up of about 250 men from Cornwall and Devon.

In September they left Camborne for the Western Front. They trained on Salisbury Plain then camped in Winchester with the rest of Kitchener’s Army before embarking for Le Havre on 4 November 1914.

They first headed for Estaires in northern France where they were stationed for the first 15 months of the war, engaged in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle and Aubers Ridge. The following year they travelled south to the Somme then in 1917 back to Belgium for the terrible battle of Passchendaele.

Passchendaele was one of the most horrific and bloody battles of World War One and Arthur Harris sadly lost his life at the start of it.

Passchendaele is notorious for the number of men who died. It is also remembered for the conditions in which men fought – the seas of mud that were created by the endless (and unexpected) rainfall that fell that July.  Men fought and died in the mud: many drowned in the mud and their bodies were never recovered.

Arthur Harris died on 8 July 1917, a few days after the battle started. He was not the only man in the 25th Field Ambulance to die that month.  The unit had gone through the Battle of Neuve Chapelle and then the Somme with little loss of life.

But at Passchendaele, their luck turned.

On 7 July 1917, Oliver Allen, a young gardener from Porthleven, was killed. His father J.R. Allen back home was a fish buyer and curer.

The following day Arthur Harris was killed and his grave is close to Oliver Allen’s in Menin Road South Military Cemetery. Here's some footage of the cemetery from December 2019. Men were buried where they fell. The busy road nearby leads down to the Menin Gate in Ypres.

Thanks to Arthur's great niece, Elaine Haddon, we now know a bit of his background.  He was born in Beacon and in 1911 living in Union Street, Camborne.

Several of the men in the 25th Field Ambulance were originally from Beacon – friends perhaps from childhood.

Other west country men in the 25th Field Ambulance who died that month were Private S. Walters (age unknown) of Plymouth who died on 30 July of his wounds;  and on 31 July 1917 Private William Cooper (age and birthplace unknown),  Private John Evans of Exeter and Private S.G. Martin of Plymouth were killed.

Laying a wreath on Dr Blackwood's grave in Camborne


Remembrance Sunday 2020: laying a wreath on the grave of Dr William Blackwood in Camborne - a World War One hero by anyone's standards.  Click here to watch.

In 1914 Dr Blackwood led a group of local miners out to the Western Front. They served throughout the war in the 25th Field Ambulance (Royal Army Medical Corps). Dr Blackwood ended the war as a Lieutenant Colonel and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) with a bar. In WW1, 9,881 DSOs were awarded but only 768 with an extra bar.

We researched Dr Blackwood and Cornish World War One history as part of our project Heart of Conflict.

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