Thursday, 18 December 2014

Christmas Party 2014!

16 December 2014

After over 15 months of research, Geocaching and adventures around Dorset, the group had a well-deserved celebration of their achievements. With plenty of delicious snacks going around and games of Charades and Pictionary, the WITS team enjoyed getting into the festive mood. We also had the return of volunteers like Jenny and Edward, taking a short break from their studies, to join in the fun!

Here are a selection of pictures from the event:

Press Release: Walking in their Shoes gets People Walking

18 December 2014

The Walking in their Shoes team, a youth-led project which brought together a mixture of 15-25 year olds to set an interactive history trail walking in the shoes of a First World War Soldier and the Anglo-Saxon monk, St. Aldhelm, are pleased to officially launch their collection of leaflets to promote their walks to the wider public and encourage them to walk along the route. The leaflets were designed by Wallis Agency in Poundbury, after the group received enthusiastic feedback from Geocaching participants about the contents of the history boxes.

The cache contents are all developed, researched and designed by volunteers in the project over the course of almost nine months. They feature a series of flashcards which contain detailed facts and stories about the life of a soldier from when he registered to join the frontline to the terrible realities of what life was like in the trenches. Participants can use a GPS device or a map and clues to locate the containers. Placed at specific locations relevant to this period in history, the caches will hopefully ensure that the memory of those who sacrificed their lives will be appreciated by people of all ages from our insightful walk through time. Dorchester Tourist Information Centre is the first in the county to distribute the leaflets designed to accompany the walk.

One Geocacher commented: “We enjoyed doing another one of this series: it is difficult to imagine what those first 2 weeks were like for soldiers. It is clear you have put a lot of work into this cache and series - you should feel very proud.”

Further positive feedback included: “The information on the cache page really brought the history of the soldier to life. I could picture what life would have been like. We are all so proud of all those who fought for us and it's a good time of the year to remember all who were involved and affected by all wars.”

Lorna Johnson, Project Officer for Walking in their Shoes, has been delighted with the feedback so far and said, “The young team worked really hard with partners at the Military Keep Museum and Bovington Tank Museum to put together a great walk. It is a great activity to do in Dorchester and Moreton and proves young people have a passion for their local heritage and are very successful at telling important local stories in new and exciting ways.”

The project is also launching its second walk in the county, and people will soon be able to walk in the shoes of St. Aldhelm, first Bishop of Sherborne. They shine a light on this important but little known Anglo Saxon hero from 705. oly man from 705HolHpplddHol;The trail will start in Sherborne and continue through Cerne Abbas, Wimborne Minster, Wareham and finish at St. Aldhelm’s Head.

Geocaching is an interactive and challenging activity where users go on an outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. For more information, visit

To find out more about Walking in their Shoes, visit our website and blog Follow us on Twitter @DorsetWitS.


About Walking in their Shoes
Walking in their Shoes is a group of 20 strong volunteers, aged 15-25, who have researched and designed new activities for members of the public to engage in the history of Anglo Saxon and First World War Dorset. The project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.


Lorna Johnson, Project Officer, Walking in their Shoes
T: 01305 757027

Match of the Century

By Jack Welch, Volunteer Press Officer

10 December 2014

As the First World War centenary commemorations continue, the team at WITS, having developed a strong reputation after their success of the Corn Exchange event (which you can read about here) were thrilled to be speaking at what was billed as Dorchester's 'event of the year'. The special football match, hosted at Dorchester's Avenue Stadium and played between soldiers versus Dorchester's Town FC, invited the group to read an opening narration of the scene where British and German soldiers called a one-day truce in Christmas 1914 and play a friendly game of football.

Jack played the role as lead narrator and Douglas and Kayleigh supported as German and British soldiers respectively. In the weeks running up to the event, the group taking part in the evening had a series of intensive rehearsal sessions, led by our Saxon expert, Pippa, in order to get prepared with the choreography and help with any issues the main actors may have had.

The evening itself presented its own challenges, as a chill in the air had made conditions outside less friendly and spots of rain began recurring. Moreover, our part in the show was the very highlight of the event, the pressure was on.  Being the professionals the group are though, we all made it with only a few blips that were easily taken care of.

Allen Knott, Chairman of DYA and Community Director of the football club, wrote praising the group's efforts on the evening and said "I have to say I was the proudest man on the field. Our young representatives, together with their leaders, were superb and the clear message they gave was well received by the crowd."
"We are all indebted to them for the work they put into the event and I add my personal thanks to each and every one of them."

P.S. Have you seen this month's Dorchester Life yet? Pick up December's issue to see an article, featuring us!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

World War One Leaflet

With thanks to the work of our Press Volunteer, Beki, and the Wallis Agency putting this together.

St Aldhelm Leaflet

With thanks to the work of our Press Volunteer, Beki, and the Wallis Agency putting this together.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Fixers Take Over

By Jack Welch, Volunteer Press Officer

4th October 2014

Taking inspiration from his time at WITS and the previous project, Dorset Youth Association, our long-serving volunteer Jack has been in touch with the national charity Fixers to lead on a new project all about youth participation in heritage based involvement. Fixers works with young people aged 16-25 across the UK to coordinate create their own resource to fix an issue within their own communities.

With a number of the WITS volunteers, plus some other young guests, we were joined by Fixers staff, Katie and Carrie, for Jack to lead a focus group on a series of questions on this subject. It allowed everyone to give an insight into what inspires them about taking part in these kinds of projects and what the consequences may be if heritage is not important for young people.
More updates and developments will follow from this meeting, so keep an ear out for what's happening next in this exciting project.

UPDATE: Jack has now been invited to do a broadcast film next year for ITV News West Country. Exciting stuff!

For more information on Fixers and how you can get involved, please visit

Awards Success Continues

By Jack Welch, Volunteer Press Officer

30th October 2014

After the tremendous success of the recent reception of our 'Inspiring Project Award' at Dorset Youth Association's AGM (read here for the full story), the WITS team were up for another accolade as we received the 'Volunteer Group of the Year' award from the Dorset Volunteer Centre. Hosted at Bridport House, the certificates for each volunteer was presented by the current Lord Lieutenant of Dorset, Angus Campbell, with the ceremony presided by DYA Chairman, Allen Knott.

Before collecting our award, the group were well-deservedly treated to an evening meal in the centre of Dorcheste, where Project Officer, Lorna, was presented with an ornamental cake stand and bouquet of flowers, as a token of the group's appreciation for her hard work this past year.

Congratulations to all the other fantastic individuals and groups who picked up awards on the evening. It was wonderful to have so much activity in Dorset recognised.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

AGM Highlights

22nd October 2014

By Jack Welch, Volunteer Press Officer

Michael receives the envelope which contains the certificate.
After what seems like only a short time ago since the launch of the project to Dorset Youth Association's last Annual General Meeting, the WITS team were back this year to present some of the highlights of the achievements and progress over the past year, which have not only been documented on its own channels., but also in local and national headlines. Attended by a number of volunteers, Jack, Rosie and Michael, the adult volunteer support team was also present for the official reception of the British Youth Council 'Youth on Board' Award for their 'Inspiring Project Award' certificate.

Presented by DYA Chairman, Allen Knott, and outgoing President of the charity, Pamela Seaton, who retires after an incredible 30 years with the Association, the group posed for a photograph to celebrate what has been a tremendous year of success it has been for the project. Delivering a short speech on presenting the record on behalf of WITS and the impact it has had on the community, Jack said "The project solidly proves the talents and abilities of young people in Dorset, who will help lead the way for future youth initiatives for many years to come."

Project Officer, Lorna, also thanked the contributions of the adult volunteers for their involvement in the project and praised the group for their efforts in making WITS a true success.

Dorset Echo article covering the award achievement.
An article was soon published in the Dorset Echo a few days afterwards, which shared the special occasion of receiving the award.

New Stories in the History Centre

By Jack Welch, Volunteer Press Officer

The team at WITS were proud, after weeks of intensive organising and file identification, to pass over their record of oral history interviews to the team at Dorset History Centre. Containing up to 16 interviews in total, the volunteers for the project have interviewed a variety of people in the Dorset public with memories of relatives who lived or remembered the events of the First World War.

Praised by Maria of the History Centre, she said that there will be more stories to add in the Centre's collection of existing stories by survivors of the period. In addition to the recordings, our current website and trail of history boxes will also be preserved for many years to come. Volunteers Julia and Rosie, who worked many hours in total on abstracts of these recordings, had the honour if handing it over. 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Our Website

Don't forget, for more details of our project, where you can find our walks and if you would like to feedback to us, just visit our new website:

Footsteps of a Saxon - Our St Aldhelm Update

By Jack Welch, Volunteer Press Officer

After the success of completing and holding our grand launch of the trail of our World War One walk, the WITS team have now moved forward to the second phase of their exciting investigation into the life and times of Dorset's first effective Bishop, St Aldhelm. Working alongside our resident expert in this area, Pippa, there are little known facts and plenty of stories about this mysterious man. With much of the information coming second hand from figures such as William of Malmesbury, a scholar Monk from Wiltshire, and classical writer Bede, the group are currently constructing a history of what we know so far and for that to be illustrated in the computer programme, Comic Life. Keep your eyes peeled for more exciting caches coming soon!

Meanwhile, some of the group have been making their way around key locations around Dorset to learn more about the potential journeys St Aldhelm may have made across the county and to plot the location for new caches. The first of these visits included a walk around the coastal scenery of Worth Matravers and ultimately up where St Aldhelm's chapel currently resides. Meeting with the loca
l Priest in the church of Worth Matravers, Gaynor Burnett, she was particularly excited to hear of what had been learnt so far and was happy for volunteers Edward and Ashley to plot a location for the cache. Interestingly, St Aldhelm's Point was only constructed many years after his own death. Believed to have been established around the 13th century, when St Aldhelm died in 709 AD, the building has many unusual features in comparison to a typical chapel. Taking a scenic, coastal path to reach the Point, both volunteers and staff found it quite a challenge to walk around some of the steep inclines on the route and proved to be a rather exhausting trek. With an easier alternative path to the area also available, this will be indicated to the walkers when the Caches become live.

More recently, members of the group were welcomed to the abbey of Wimborne Minsiter and to learn more about the life of Cuthburga, a relative of St Aldhelm, and the first Abbess of Wimborne. With Liz and Rosie in attendance, the visitors were given an insightful talk on the background behind the
Abbey and the underlying, including the Saxon Chest, manufactured from hollowed Oak, which is said to date back to 705 AD and is believed to have great healing powers associated around it. Also present is the astronomic clock, dating back to 1320 and designed to show the days when everything was said to revolve around the Earth.  It was fascinating to learn of the origins of the Abbey belonging to Cuthburga, who spent much of her years as Abbess devoted to her cause and the strict discipline that made the Abbey successful. She died in 725 and is also buried in Wimborne.

More updates to follow...

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Dorset Echo DT1 Column: Volunteers Unveil New Historical Walk

Dorset Echo
Published 27th August 2014

By Jack Welch from the Walking in their Shoes project

As the centenary commemorations of World War One unite the country in pride and sadness at those lost in the War, volunteers at Dorset Youth Association were proud to unveil a brand new historical walk.

Through the “Walking in their Shoes” project, members of the public can discover just what it was like to live as a soldier in Dorset during this difficult period as part of the Heritage Lottery-funded project.
Designed and led by young people who have given their spare time, the event at Dorchester’s Corn Exchange was a perfect example in which young people could show their enthusiasm and commitment for the heritage of their local communities.

Dorchester's Mayor Peter Mann meets young volunteers for the town's 'Walking in their Shoes' project commemorating WW1.Numerous boxes are placed across the walk through Dorchester, Moreton and Bovington, which allow treasure hunters to find boxes using GPS satellite signals or more traditional map clues to find and read the captivating stories.

Many of these tales come as result from the support we have had from The Keep Military Museum and The Tank Museum.

An app and official website for this part of the project will be available to allow people to interact with this trail.

Accompanied by the current Mayor of Dorchester, Councillor Peter Mann, and Chairman of Dorset Youth Association, Alan Knott, volunteers in soldiers’ uniforms and period dress took special guests to be the first finders of the hidden boxes around the town.
With the success of this and our showcase, the project moves into the next stage – following an Anglo-Saxon Monk.
For more details visit or follow us on Twitter @DorsetWitS

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Local plumber saves the day!

Dean Rawlings from Dorchester Plumbing Supplies helped us to create tubes for our Geocache scrolls. We needed small sections of piping which he kindly cut up for us. He offered the pipes for free as we are a charity but we wanted to pay as we have a budget. He was so much cheaper than another local supplier. 

Edward and Ashley with the plumbing merchant.

 Back at base we spent time putting together the pieces of pipe for the scrolls. We can't show you the finished pipes as it will give the game away.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Photos: Launching our Walk

Here are a selection of photographs taken on the day of our Launch. Thank you to all that came and took a leaflet about our walk - we are already printing more by popular demand! Huge thanks to the Bovington tank Museum and Dorchester Community Plays Association & the New Hardy Players for the loan of the costumes.

Courtesy of Dorset Echo

Courtesy of Dorset Echo

Courtesy of Dorset Echo