Who We Are...
The people who influence HRGS...
Chair & Research Project Co-ordinator - Richard Emmett
I have a background in Emergency Planning, but seemingly always had a passion for history, particularly military-history. Most recently, I have been involved in taking part in a variety of archaeological excavations, such as the Randall Manor project at Shorne, the Thames Discovery Programme and the Digging Dad's Army project. Although, my main interest area is 20th century conflict archaeology, which allows a fresh interpretation on events. If you would like to know more about me check out this link - Get to know your Chairman
Vice Chair - John Beaumont
John is actively involved with various archaeological groups, including Bredhurst, Shorne, and Wychling. John is never happier than being in a test pit!
Treasurer - Theresa Emmett
The Treasurer's role is to ensure the smooth financial affairs of the organisation. Paying bills, and balancing the books with our membership fees, donations, book sales and fund raising monies, to enable the accounts to be signed off by the HRGS accountant.
I have a banking background, previously working for Lloyds Bank for 18 years. Whilst I enjoy playing with spreadsheets and looking at investments, my real passion is for history. I have been involved with projects such as MOCO (Mass Observation Communities Online) as well as Digging Dad's Army which gets my hands dirty and involved in conflict archaeology. My interest in history is far reaching, and any kind of view into the past which helps us make sense of the present interests me.
Events Secretary & Assistant Treasurer - Jenny Kearney
Jenny became a member of the group in 2014 - through the Bredhurst 'diggers'. She enjoys the outdoor archaeological opportunities the group offers, as well as getting involbed with the WW1 memorials project by researching the background of fallen men. Jenny has been the Assistant Treasurer since 2015.
Secretary, Editor, Printer, and Researcher - Pat Robinson
Pat was known as Dr Bellingham when she wrote her book 'An Illustrated History of Sittingbourne and Milton' and has always been interested in the history of the town in which her mother was born and where she was also brought up. She has been actively involved with the group since 2013, and is currently involved in the WW1 Memorials Project. In 2016 she wrote 'A Town at War', published by HRGS, which tells the story of Sittingbourne and Milton during the First World War. She now holds several jobs on the committee and has previously been the Membership Secretary.
Membership Secretary - John Weeks OBE
John has been a member of HRGS since 2009, and a committee member since 2015, and is very interest in Aviation History, and local history. He is an avid model airaplane flyer and a past president of the Sittingbourne branch of Probus. John was awarded an OBE for his services within the Civil Service before he retired.
Archivist & Chronicle Keeper - Janet Halligan
Janet has a wealth of knowledge about Sittingbourne and Milton Regis, as she and her family have lived in this area for many generations, and has her own personal Archive records which are very useful to our researchers.
Webmaster - Peter Hudson-Paige
Peter became the HRGS webmaster from September 2015 taking on the responsibility of its maintenance and the publishing of 'the fallen' names in remembrance of all those that lost their lives during WW1, on the centenary of their death. A keen history enthusiast since his youth in the 1960's, he spent 13 days experiencing his first archaeological dig at York in 1974 - whilst on holiday with his parents!
Although never far from his mind, his involvement in all things historical ceased when he married and had a family. Now with less family commitments, he is again immersing himself in the world he most loves. Peter is now an active member of the group and became a committee member, also in September 2015.
Peter is a serving councillor for both Bobbing and Borden Parish Councils, and a former Executive Member to the Kent Association of Local Councils.
IT Support - John Townsend
John has been a 'digger' at Bredhurst for the last 6 years and enjoys both the delicate work as well as the 'harder digging jobs'. He has a technical engineering background, which has meant that he was able to build his own resistivity meter to help identify potential archaeological areas on site. He has been the Chairman, Membership secretary and Treasurer for his radio club.
Heritage Hub Support - John Cockrell
John has been a volunteer in the Heritage Hub before HRGS took over the running of the exhibition. John will turn his hand to anything from painting the walls to dressing the windows. He joined HRGS committee in 2015, and volunteers for many other organisations as well. John has been nominated for the Swale Volunteer Awards in March 2017 (Good luck John!)
Heritage Hub Shop Manager
Media and Press Officer - Tony Gray
Tony re-joined the group in 2016 and offered to help with administration for the Heritage Lottery funding feedback; and then offered to become the Press Officer when the position became vacant. Tony has expanded the role to include social media and has been instrumental in moving HRGS into the world of Twitter.
HRGS' Honorary President - Paul Auston Esq. - Deputy Lieutenant
The hand-over ceremony took place on Saturday 20th May 2017 and Paul said that it was a "great honour" and that "he felt humbled to be asked to become President of the group and to take over the role from Bill." He ended by saying that he would do his best to be a good President, and he was very interested in and supportive of what HRGS is doing and wanted to "see the group prosper for the long term”.
Paul is Kent based, and has also served as Trustee and Chairman of many worthy charities, including Demelza House, a children's hospice based in Kent, Sussex and South East London. On retiring he was elected honorary Vice President and he continues to support the work of the charity.
He was also instrumental in setting up 'Classics on Track for Children', encouraging fellow motor sport enthusiasts to use their classic and GT sports cars on circuits in Southern England to raise funds for local charities. He is a trustee of The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Children's Fund based in Portsmouth, and is actively involved in raising funds and awareness in the wider community of the needs of families and children "The forgotten casualties of conflict". He also serves on the development group raising funds for the restoration of Canterbury Cathedral.
He has three children, one of whom is Chief Executive of the Checkmate Lifting and Safety business at Sheerness, a family business that is the proud recipient of two Queen's Awards for enterprise in the fields of export and innovation.
And click here to see all our valuable volunteers
Get to Know your Chairman...
Did you know this about....... Richard E. Emmett MSc GCGI PGDip – Archaeology
Essex, Hampshire and City of London
Richard was born in St. Osyth, in 1956 and attended the Plume School Maldon, Essex. He was a cadet with his local Squadron of the Air Training Corps, gaining his ‘gliding proficiency certificate’ and achieving rank of cadet flight sergeant. He realised his career path and joined the Hampshire Constabulary as a police cadet in 1974 and on turning 19, he graduated into the regular police force. Then in 1978 Richard transferred into the City of London Police.
During his spare time, he volunteered to run cadet detachments with the Army Cadet Force in London as an instructor and was commissioned with them in 1979. In 1988, Richard took the Queen’s commission once again, serving as movement control officer in 162 Regiment Royal Corps of Transport then the Royal Logistic Corps, Territorial Army (TA). During his service with the TA he achieved the rank of Captain. In 1991, he took three months away from his job to lead an ‘Operation Raleigh’ expedition for ‘young venturers’ to Chile, South America. In 2005, Richard returned to the TA as a liaison officer, with the District Reinforcement Team, HQ London District.
Richard enjoys scuba diving recreationally and eventually became semi-professional trainer as a Course Director/Master Instructor with the Professional Association of Scuba Instructors (PADI), and also trained as a first aid Instructor Trainer with Emergency First Response. He has received a total of three certificates for scuba training excellence and has come to the aid of two members of the public by successfully performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on them.
From 2002 until he retired from the police in 2005, Richard was seconded to the London Resilience Team working on emergency planning management across London. During his 30 year police service, he has received two Commanders commendations and a Chief Superintendant’s certificate of merit. He has completed three London marathons, and in 2007 he was made a Freeman of the City of London.
Kent and Sittingbourne
In 2004, Richard met and married Theresa, moving from Essex to Upchurch. Here he completed his Masters of Science degree (Emergency Planning Management); graduated with the City and Guilds Institute in (Leadership and Management); and graduated with a Post Graduate Diploma in archaeology.
In 2009, Richard joined the Historical Research Group of Sittingbourne and in 2010 joined the committee. He retired from the Territorial Army in 2011, and in 2014, Richard was elected chairman of HRGS. He has successfully facilitated the groups research room move into a shopping unit and oversees a team of volunteers who man a historical/archaeological exhibition called the Heritage Hub. In its first year alone, the exhibition attracted over 7000 visitors.
Projects and Talks
Richard leads on several of the group’s projects – Bredhurst archaeology, Rose Hill archaeology and the Sittingbourne War Memorials projects. He actively fundraises for HRGS and other history groups. In 2016, Richard was runner up in the ‘Swale Volunteer Awards’ for volunteering contribution to creativity, culture or heritage. Additionally, Richard finds the time to champion Swale and Sittingbourne’s heritage by being the Deputy Chair of The Swale Museums Group, core member of the ‘Wheels of Time’ initiative, a member of the Swale Borough Council World War One commemorations steering group, Kent Archaeological Society Field Work Committee, Sittingbourne Museum and Heritage Centre Working Group and a War Memorials Trust learning volunteer. Richard regularly provided illustrated talks for the HRGS and to numerous local groups, on topics of local history, military history and archaeology. He believes that HRGS does ‘Bring History Alive’ for the community.
HRGS & The Local Community
The HRGS was originally set up to assist those wishing to understand their local history and heritage. From the beginning we have worked with local schools, giving them copies of all of our publications and our magazine, as well as providing talks and tours to the students. The library manager of each of the local secondary schools has been our main point of contact and invited to accept our offer of honorary membership, giving them access to our meetings and resources.
Primary schools have taken part in our tours of Milton High Street and the Court Hall as well as other special events at the schools themselves, including archaeology mornings and old map sessions, or tours of the local church and grounds.
We have also run several twelve week courses on local history and archaeology. The courses are designed to be accessible with no previous experience required and informal but informative.
To help with our lectures, tours and courses we have purchased a number of personal portable hearing loops that can work with hearing aids or through a set of earphones. This has allowed many people with hearing difficulties to take an active part in our activities. Even our publications use a format designed to make them more accessible, such as using a clear bold type and comb binding to keep unruly pages under control!
We also provide support and advice for members of the public undertaking their own research. We get asked some very strange things sometimes but if there is something we do not know we can certainly help find it! We can even help a researcher put their findings into print in either The Archive or as a special publication (see Bibliotheca). The magazine and the website both provide a simple way of finding new information. We receive many letters from the public asking for leads, sharing a new discovery or even asking how their road got its name.
We also undertake research of our own, such as the Medieval Church Graffiti Project, which not only discovers many new things about our area, but allows people to get involved with real research under the guidance of an experienced local historian.
This aspect of our work is to receive a real boost with the advent of the new HRGS Research Room. Here our members and the general public will be able to have access to a dedicated local history library, maps copies of manuscripts as well as micro film copies of many old documents.
From time to time, during our many projects, we come across things that need a little more than study. During our work on the ancient church in Murston the churchwarden showed us a Victorian drawing of the site. It had fallen into disrepair and needed urgent attention to keep it on view, HRGS member Chris Porter carried out the repair and added a new frame and backing. It is now as good as new and on display in the church. We have also donated funds towards the repair of the WWI War Memorial board, now hanging in Milton Court Primary School, and to the new memorial monument planned for Milton Regis churchyard. We were also pleased to help the Salvation Army 'Tsunami Appeal'.
The Bibliotheca project was set up by the HRGS to allow anyone that wanted to write local history to publish their work in a simple and cost effective way. Once the work has been set out electronically it can be saved to a PC or other storage media, and produced in very small numbers (batches of 10 minimum) as required. This means that the writer does not need to print the large numbers usually required by commercial printers which not only cost a great deal in one lump sum but require a lot of storage too! A simple email to us is all that is needed to print off the next batch as and when required. Alternatively, a writer can simply pass on the study to the HRGS and receive twenty free copies of the finished publication in return. The monies raised will help the HRGS fund further local history research.
Thanks to grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Kent County Council and SITTINGBOURNE, KEMSLEY AND MILTON REGIS UNPARISHED AREA GRANTS COMMITTEE of Swale Borough Council, money was raised to buy a quality printing unit. This unit allows the HRGS to produce The Archive magazine as well as local study books such as The History of Paradise Chapel, The Sittingbourne Anomally, and The History of Cryalls House .
The books we publish come in three basic formats.
Parvulus - Smaller publications of up to 12 A5 pages can be produced with A4 paper folded and stapled into an A5 booklet.
Tantus - Larger publications of up to 28 A4 pages can be produced with A3 paper folded and stapled into an A4 booklet.
Ingens - The largest publication, those beyond 28 pages, can be produced with A4 paper comb bound with an acetate front cover and card back board.
The type font used is always 12 point Calibri as this is the most accessible style and size for those with sight problems. The comb binding system is used because it allows the book to be laid flat on a surface to read, making it easier to handle for some disabled readers and those students undertaking research and taking notes at the same time; a tricky business with ordinary books which always try and close unless pinned down! It should be noted that the comb binding is not designed to be bent back on itself and may become damaged if this is done.
As many photographs and pictures can be used as required in any publication and are always reproduced to a very good standard (dependent upon the quality of the original). However, to keep costs down all publications can only be produced in ‘Grey Scale’, not colour.
The Heritage Hub
Please pop in to Heritage Hub, at Unit 17, The Forum, Sittingbourne, ME10 3DL. This is the new home of the HRGS ‘Research Room’ (which may be used by members by prior appointment). The ‘Exhibition Space’ is a collaborative project involving CSI Sittingbourne, Amtec, Canterbury Archaeological Trust, Sittingbourne Heritage Museum and the HRGS.
EXHIBITION - FREE ENTRY - OPENING TIMES:
Tuesday 10:00 – 16:00
Wednesday 10:00 – 16:00
Thursday 10:00 – 16:00
Friday 10:00 – 16:00
Saturday 10:00 – 16:00
These are normal opening hours but may be subject to change.
Currently on display are:
Artefacts from The Meads excavation
Visitors to the exhibition will have the chance to see a selection of conserved finds from the Meads Anglo-Saxon Cemetery excavation, which was carried out by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust.
Exhibition of the Rose Hill excavation
Anexhibition by the Archaeological Field Unit of HRGS (Historical Research Group of Sittingbourne) of the Hidden Histories Community dig undertaken in June 2015 of Rose Hill (Gore Court). This is an on-going project of the neo-classical house that once stood on the Hill over-looking the A2.
Sittingbourne War Memorials Project
A digital Roll of Honour of local men who fought in the First World War, funded by the HLF’s ‘Then & Now‘ programme. The hi-tech touch screen from (InfoAktiv) contains hundreds of names and images. It is situated alongside a life-size replica of a First World War trench, created by students at the University for the Creative Arts. The project hopes that visitors from Sittingbourne and the surrounding area will be able to view, share, and preserve their family’s memories and heritage of the First World War, and the people who lived through it. If you have family or local photos, or you think your family name might be on the touch screen, please pop in and see us.
The Hub is open for enquires, and has a small selection of local history, archaeological and WW1 related books for sale.
Copies of the HRGS’s magazine ‘The Archive’ can be purchased at the shop.
Who We Are...The HRGS is a non-profit-making organisation dedicated to understanding our history and heritage and helping others to do the same. Much of our history has been lost or forgotten over the years. We cannot change the past but we can learn from it. The HRGS is working hard to research, record and publish as much of our heritage as possible. To this end our group began, recruiting members and sponsors from the local, and not so local, community.
The only qualification needed for membership is a love of history and whilst the members range in experience, their co-operative and supportive attitude is constant throughout. We are a proactive and interactive group in which new members are warmly welcomed and invited to take part in our many activities at whatever level they wish.
We encourage questions and help find answers. We believe in involving the whole family and run special historical events such as ‘Treasure Hunts’ to include members of all ages. We hold regular monthly meetings at various sites and museums, run training courses for those who would like to learn how to research for themselves, offer supported projects for members to work on in a small team and a friendly environment to do it all in.
The administration of the H.R.G.S. is undertaken by unpaid volunteers who wish to see the group fulfil its aims. Nevertheless the group has numerous costs i.e. insurances, meeting rooms hire, inks, paper, payment of external speakers and the purchase of documents, books and equipment.
The more significant items of equipment and documents are funded from grant monies applied for by the group’s committee, all other items and the day to day running expenses are paid for from the members’ subscriptions and the donations of many local businesses without which the group would struggle financially.
In December 2014 HRGS took on the role of running a local Archaeological Exhibition in the Forum at Sittingbourne. Over the next year we set about expanding the exhibitions, and as at January 2016 the Exhibitions include 2 local community digs: Bredhurst and Rose Hill as well as the Meads which was undertaken by Canterbury Archaeological Trust. The purpose of the Exhibition is to encourage local people to learn about Heritage and to have an opportunity to become involved in the research and the various projects we are championing.
The HRGS is a voluntary group - we couldn't function without the constant hard work and effort of our committee and members. So much goes on behind-the-scenes that many people are unaware of. We're always looking for people who are interested in getting involved.
For information about people already involved please see Who We Are....
If you have an interest in history and would like to become involved in some shape or form, please complete the Application Form we would be pleased to make you very welcome to our group.
Please send completed forms to:
Mr John Weeks,
HRGS Membership Secretary,
c/o Unit 17,
The Heritage Hub,
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