VOLUNTEERS who are working to preserve thousands of Express & Star photographs from years gone by for future generations have been thanked for their efforts.
The digital Express & Star Photo Archive will see historical pictures of the public, architecture and events in the Black Country and beyond preserved safely online.
The project, which involves sifting through shelf after shelf of files to organise images for digitisation, has been transformed through the help of a group of volunteers.
Betty McCann, Kathy Hughes, Patricia Hughes, Christine West, Brian Lester, Ann Eales and Jackie Harrison, were among those who gave up a combined total of 260 days of goodwill time to help organise our physical archive ready for its transition to digital.
They were treated to a presentation at the Express & Star’s head office on how their work is helping to keep memories of years gone by alive, as well as a special lunch.
Back in 2014, little detailed information was known about our archive, which had become disorganised and in need of restructuring for transfer online.
So far, 65,000 photos have been sorted, mainly around the categories of war, changing landscape and industry thanks to the volunteers.
Sisters Kathy and Patricia Hughes both joined the project because of their interest in local history and played a key part in organising the collection.
They were among those to give the largest amount of time since volunteer work began in 2015.
Kathy said: “It is certainly in better shape now than when we first arrived but we are happy to help, I think it is fascinating.”
Brian Lester, from Kingswinford, said: “I think it is crucial that these great memories are preserved, the collection is so vast.
“I have worked in education in the past and I think that this will be a great educational tool for our young children in the future.”
Christine West, from Penn, said: “It was great for me to see all of these things from over the years like people’s parties and real close events that mean a lot to families.”
The initiative aims to carry out vital archiving work, digitise the collection and make the photographs available through a single web portal, allowing free online public access to the unrivalled images of local events, momentous and everyday, for the first time.
Chris Leggett, MNA Media director of marketing and communications, said: “We have a lot to thank our volunteers for and it was a pleasure to welcome them to the Express & Star head office to thank them personally for their incredible efforts and inform them of where this project is headed going forward.”
The long-term aim is to secure Heritage Lottery Fund support to carry out the digitisation work.