The HMS Leigh – Guardian of the Thames project is a brilliant attempt to bring together lots of different parts of our community around a subject that not many people know about, but that we all have in common. Everyone has a relative who was alive on Victory In Europe Day 1945 – or VE-Day as it is known, so it’s a common link that we all share. Mix that with the amazing history of Southend Pier – somewhere we all know and most of us have visited and you have a recipe for some great engagement with both young and old. We had rumblings of difficult times ahead in January and February, but to be honest, we had to keep going and it was the right thing to do given the advice at the time. Sadly now the situation has gone from bad to worse and we are in lockdown, so how the heck are we going to make HMS Leigh work? The answer is going to have to be online and virtual. At the moment this is a work in progress and we are pulling our resources together to see what we can provide for our community both young and old to engage with their heritage and learn together about some truly remarkable local history. Is it stressful? Yes, it is. Is it was stressful as working in the NHS? No of course not, but trying to keep out team safe and trying to keep our families safe and trying to communicate and not shout at each other because we are frustrated or scared or lacking sleep isn’t exactly what I thought we would be having to cope with right now.
Working from home is cool and I’ve done it for over 10 years so I should be used to it. Working from home with a full house, 2 working in food shops at various hours, with a project that simply can’t happen how we had planned for the last year isn’t so usual and to coin a phrase ‘it’s doing my head in’. But we will make HMS Leigh work, we will provide learning materials and heritage engagement and gather stories and memories from the 2nd World War and we will do the very best HMS Leigh - Guardian of the Thames we can by combining our team strengths and helping each other through our weaknesses because we believe this work is important and worthwhile and makes a difference to peoples’ lives. So watch out world, HMS Leigh is still afloat and is coming your way.