‘Talking Syria’ – Wins National Award

The Community Archives and Heritage Group (CAHG) today announced at itsannual conference in London the winners of its annual Awards forExcellence.



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‘Talking Syria’ – the Voice of the Voiceless Displaced - Wins National Archiving Award

Other Category Winners: Black Country Visual Arts, Lodsworth Heritage Society, Morecambe Bay Partnership.

The Community Archives and Heritage Group (CAHG) today announced at its annual conference in London the winners of its annual Awards for Excellence. CAHG is part of the Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland), the sector’s leading professional and membership body. CAHG’s annual Awards are highly competitive and receive nominations from across Britain and Ireland.

Overall Winner

The overall 2017 winner, Talking Syria (www.talkingsyria.com), also won the Most Innovative category in this year’s awards. In reaching their decision, the judges commented:

Talking Syria is an extra-ordinary example of an archive both preserving the voices of displaced and fractured communities for the future and acting as an engine of community resilience in the present. This is an archive at its best: raw emotion, portraying real life and its impact on individuals and families, community leadership and involvement, a focus on tomorrow - the younger generation - and an excellent website for outreach and advocacy. This archive will become an outstanding research tool for the future. But it is also – evidently – succeeding in its principal short-term goal of community building. We also commend the Talking Syria website and encourage everyone to take a look. The use of large apps gives a wonderful simplicity and clarity. From the first click, we all felt compelled to keep reading.”

Talking Syria began in 2013, aiming to be a voice for Syrians displaced around the world, including in the UK. The project encourages Syrians of all denominations and perspectives to write stories containing memories or special moments that enable them to reconnect with their human side and their heritage. The focus is storytelling, art and culture as the building blocks for longer-term community resilience. Talking Syria also runs an informative blog which is also non-political and non-religious.

Impressive Runners-up

There are three close overall runners-up this year that take the honours in the other three award categories. Winner of the ‘Best New Group’ is Black Country Visual Arts (Wolverhampton) for its Apna Heritage Archive. The judges commented:

“The Apna Heritage Archive run by Black Country Visual Arts (BCVA) is an outstanding example of collaboration capturing vitally important local heritage, in this case photographs and memorabilia on the migration of South Asian Punjabis to Wolverhampton from the 1960s to 1980s. The project has a strong educational element, including local schools (and the teaching of photography) and Wolverhampton University. We noted the involvement of a Gurdwara, the city council and others, as well as the supportive role of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). It is great to see HLF becoming more involved in community archives, and we hope that this presages a more strategic approach to the sector.”

BCVA Co-Director Anand Chhabra, said:

“We are delighted to receive this recognition from colleagues in the archives and records sector. It is testament to the energy and commitment of everyone involved in the Apna Heritage Archive: members of the local community, our local partners and, of course, the support and help provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund.”

Further information is at: http://www.bcva.info/about-2/

 Winner of the ‘Best Website’ for 2017 is Lodsworth Heritage Society (West Sussex). The judges commented:

“The Lodsworth website stood out for its all-round design, accessibility and quality. It is evident that a lot of thought has gone in to using easily-available templates and functionality, with clear links to the society’s research into local history and encouraging local residents to take an interest. Events pages are kept well up to date and the whole site contains a real community feel. While some websites focus on visual impact alone, the Lodsworth just seemed rooted in offering a quality experience.”

See www.lodsworthheritage.org.uk for more details.

Winner of the ‘Most Inspiring Community Archive for 2017 is Morecambe Bay Partnership (Oral History Volunteers). The judges commented:

“This is a model community partnership aimed at recording the distinctive economic and social history of Morecambe Bay, its unique inshore fishing communities, dialects and environment. An excellent team of twenty volunteers have been trained to collect oral history from interviewing local people using evident best professional practice and building local interest. We were delighted to see that project has plans to deposit its material in the Cumbria and Lancashire Archives services, to ensure its wider dissemination and preservation.”

See www.morecambebay.org.uk/BaysPast/projects/FishingOralHistories for more.

Notes for Editors

The Community Archives and Heritage Group (CAHG) Awards are organised, judged and presented by the Community Archives and Heritage Group, a special interest section of the Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland), the main professional body representing archivists, records managers and archive conservators in Britain and Ireland. For more on the ARA, see www.archives.org.uk

2017 is the sixth year of these awards, which will be presented at the CAHG annual conference at University College, London on 11 July 2017.

More information about the Community Archives and Heritage Group Awards 2016 is available from Jon Elliott at the ARA on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please also contact Jon Elliott for photographs of the winners receiving their awards at the CAHG annual conference.