Rib Davis and students at Place Farm Barn

This week, an innovative project to connect generations within the local community gets underway at West Horsley Place.

 Our Stories – which has received support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund - is an intergenerational project through which young people aged 15-18 will interview older people about their memories of West Horsley Place and the surrounding area, to create an oral history. 

 The oral history will be accessible to the public as a resource to learn about the history of West Horsley Place and it will also be archived at Surrey History Centre.

 Through this project, young people will learn new skills and will learn about their local history, and older people will have an opportunity to share their stories and to create new connections. 

 Our Stories has been devised by West Horsley Place Trust to combat loneliness and to improve wellbeing, and it is part of a wider two-year programme of public consultation and activity that will, for the first time, enable a wide range of people from the local community to experience how heritage spaces can transform health and wellbeing.

 Jo Ellison, Community Engagement Project Co-ordinator at West Horsley Place, said:

 Students train with Rib Davis“We are delighted to be getting Our Stories underway this week, and to be welcoming participants to West Horsley Place. We have 14 young people who will be interviewing older local residents with memories of West Horsley Place, Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe and the surrounding area.  By bringing the generations together we will create new opportunities for learning and understanding and, collectively, we will discover more about our past. Our vision is that West Horsley Place will become a welcoming space for the community to share and enjoy, and Our Stories is an important part of this.”

 The project is being led by Oral history specialist, Rib Davis. Having been involved in the collection and use of oral history since the late '70s, Rib was appointed an accredited trainer in oral history on behalf of the British Library and the Oral History Society. He has given training to, amongst others, the Science Museum, London, the Royal Opera House, the National Army Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Britain and Oxford University Press. Rib said:

 “The young people are learning about careful and active listening and asking well-crafted questions, not leading the interviewee and not implying any judgements. They are also learning to overcome their nerves!”

 15-year old Jasi, a student at Howard of Effingham School, said:

 “Taking part in Our Stories is an opportunity to learn a new skill and learn more about the history of the place that I live in. This will help me to achieve my Duke of Edinburgh Award. I’ve always wanted to do it because my mum did it and it will look good on my CV.”

 Wendy Rumble, who has lived in West Horsley throughout her life and who is taking part in the project, said:

 “It is important for one’s wellbeing to feel one can share memories and be able to enrich the lives of others.”


Our Stories begins this week at West Horsley Place.  The project will run over a six month period, with weekly sessions held at West Horsley Place. 


Rib Davis is also Chair of the Environment and Climate Change Special Interest Group of the Oral History Society. 

Made possible with National Lottery Heritage Fund logo