'Museum in a box' brings back amazing memories for Hebburn care home residents

Care home residents have been reliving the past thanks to a special ‘museum in a box’ bringing back memories from their younger days.

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 12:58 pm
Willowdene Care Home residents Maureen Ingram, 86, (L) and Margaret Frith, 81, looking through the reminiscence box from The Royal Mint Museum.

The Royal Mint Museum sent the package, which contains out-of-circulation replica and original coins, photographs, pamphlets and newspapers, to Willowdene Care Home in Hebburn, where it sparked some amazing memories.

The initiative was launched by The Royal Mint Museum to mark the 50th anniversary of Britain’s switch to decimal currency in February 1971 and gave residents the chance to handle the items, which were all fitted with a microchip that played audio detailing the history of the object.

The activity brought back special times for many of those living at the care home, some of whom can recall the change from the centuries old system of pounds, shillings and pence to a new currency based on 100 pennies to the pound.

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Willowdene Care Home resident Maureen Ingram, 86, looking through the reminiscence box from The Royal Mint Museum.

Resident Maureen Ingram, 86, attended a union meeting in Durham in the early 70s at which James Callaghan, then Home Secretary, was present to hear the concerns of employees at the shipyards, mines, and railroads across the North East.

“I introduced myself to him,” she said. “He asked where I was from and I told him Hebburn but that I was there representing Jarrow and South Tyneside. Then I was pulled away so other people could talk to him.”

Christine Chandler, activities coordinator at Willowdene Care Home, said the project had sparked an amazing response from residents.

“The museum in a box experience was so wonderful for the residents – many who can remember the switch to the decimal currency system in the early 70s,” she said.

Willowdene Care Home resident Margaret Frith, 81, looking through the reminiscence box from The Royal Mint Museum.

“It was around that time that our resident, Maureen, met the famous MP James Callaghan, whose picture was contained in the box from The Royal Mint Museum.

"She told us the fascinating story of her meeting the future PM at a union meeting when she was younger.

“We’d all like to thank The Royal Mint Museum for loaning us the museum in a box. Everyone at the home thoroughly enjoyed it.”

The museum’s well-being project is part of a national programme of activities with the aim of sparking memories of the currency changeover.

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