The Prime Minister has recognised Nigel Meyrick, from Chester, for curating exhibitions to ensure the history of the First World War is not forgotten. Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements as an outstanding volunteer, who is making a change in their community and inspiring others. Nigel Meyrick receives the award for Friday 9 November, the last working day before the Armistice Centenary.
Nigel has curated major First World War exhibitions at the award-winning Lion Salt Works Museum, part of West Cheshire Museums and engages his community by displaying their personal stories from the war. Nigel first got involved by participating in the ‘Cheshire’s Great War Stories’ exhibition, collecting and recording stories, images and documents from more than 500 local people. Following this success, Nigel curated two further exhibitions using objects from the community which have been attended by more than 12,000 visitors: ‘Salt from the Somme’, which took place in 2016 to commemorate Cheshire’s contributions to the First World War, and ‘Letters Home: Communications on the Front’, which has run from July this year and finishes on 16 November at Northwich’s Lion Salt Works Museum.
Nigel also personally collated the material gathered from the exhibition roadshows to make them nationally accessible, involving archiving 2,216 photographs and documents, half of which have now been added to the Imperial War Museum’s online archive.
The Points of Light certificate was presented to Nigel Meyrick at the Cheshire Military Museum in Chester by Leader of Cheshire West & Chester Council, Samantha Dixon.
Councillor Samantha Dixon, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “Nigel Meyrick’s commitment and dedication to telling the story of WWI in Cheshire is inspirational and I am delighted he has been recognised by this prestigious national award. As a result of his unstinting efforts, people across the county now have a greater appreciation of the poignant human stories behind the Great War.
In a personal letter to Nigel, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“The success of the exhibitions you have curated at ‘West Cheshire Museums’ is a testament to your historical expertise and remarkable dedication to sharing important local heritage with your community. In the centenary year of the Armistice, your archival work and public outreach has been truly invaluable in ensuring remembrance of the First World War continues for future generations.”
Nigel Meyrick said: "I only became interested in the First World War after researching my wife's great grandfather about 15 years ago. He was a Gunner with the 106th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. He went to France in 1916 but sadly died of his wounds in 1917 at the Battle of Passendaele and is buried in Belgium in Dozinghem Military Cemetery. I owe everything to Reginald Peers, as without the birth of his only son, my wife and children would not be here. After researching Reginald, I wanted to help other people look for their lost relatives from the First World War.
"Over the last four years my First World War work has involved me working with various Cheshire towns and villages, helping organise roadshows, extensive research and putting together exhibitions, much of which I have constructed with friends and family, such as the mock up of a First World War trench for the Lion Salt Works 'From Salt to the Somme', and at present 'Letters Home'.”
“During the last two years I have also visited local schools with another volunteer, Colin Mann, to bring the soldiers’ stories to life. It is time-consuming work as I also have a full-time job as an electrical project engineer, but it immensely rewarding when you see people connecting to their past and taking pride in the history of their area. My work has also unearthed artefacts that might never have come to light and these have now been recorded for future generations. The award is a huge honour and I am delighted to receive this recognition for my work."
Nigel is the 1045th winner of the Points of Light award, which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA. Over 6,000 Points of Light have been awarded in the USA, and former Presidents have publicly supported the partnership with Points of Light UK. There is a similar cross-party approach to the UK programme and MPs from different parties often present their constituents with their Points of Light awards.
Regardless of whether it is a doctor restoring local monuments in her free time, a father teaching young people life skills, or a local musician giving a voice to lonely people, the Points of Light award honours shining examples of volunteering across the UK.
Photo caption: Nigel Meyrick receiving his ‘Points of Light’ certificate at the Cheshire Military Museum from Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, Samantha Dixon. They are pictured by the reconstruction of a WWI trench.