D-Day 70 in Droxford  – A Week of

Commemoration  in June 2014

The Friends of Droxford Church (FODC) presented an Exhibition of events and memories about Droxford in June 1944, leading up to D-Day. The Exhibition  was displayed in Droxford Church and focused on the visit of Winston Churchill to Droxford Station and his meetings while staying there for three days.

With the support of the D-day Museum and Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), we researched these events and displayed the results on 5 graphic panels, with a sixth reserved for the Droxford Junior School D-Day project, and these will remain on permanent display.  A major focus of the research was to compile an Oral History of eyewitness accounts of the War, and particularly D-Day in Droxford and the Meon Valley.  A DVD, ‘These are their Memories’, featuring 26 participants, was played in the church during the exhibition and has been highly acclaimed.  Copies are available for purchase.  Additional temporary exhibits featured the Meon Valley Railway, Churchill’s correspondence for the train, diaries and photographs of D-Day preparations in the Meon Valley and Portsmouth. A model of Droxford Station was built near the entrance to the Church.

 

Budget and Funds raised

Our budget was based on total expenses of approximately £9,600, most of which was covered by grants, principally from the D-Day Museum (via HLF), and Hampshire County Council.  Income from Ticket sales amounted to over £4,000, donations (to date) are over £3,000. Including other income, total funds retained by FODC were approximately £8,500.  We are very grateful to all who have donated.

 

Visitors

Our largest one day event in Droxford is the annual Country Fair held on Saturday 7th June. This year we opened the Fair with a D-Day re-enactment, and estimate the number of visitors to the Fair at 3000, approximately double the normal number.  The queue around the Exhibition in the church was almost continuous for four hours.  Over 200 people attended our two talks in the Church in the week before; and 150 came to the Tea-dance in the Village Square. We estimate about 1,200 people visited the Church in the opening week.

 

The Exhibition was open for 8 hours a day from 29th May to 12th Septemebr and the Church was rarely empty.  The Church is on the Wayfarer’s Walk long-distance path and is a favourite stop for ramblers.  Visitors included the Fareham Society, Alton Carers, and others from beyond Hampshire, and as far as Holland and the Falkland Islands, with many repeat visitors.  We estimate a further 1,200 have visited the exhibition during the three summer months, for an overall total of 2,400.  There are many comments in the Church Visitors book – they tend to be one word, ‘superb’, very good’ etc.

 

Significance

Droxford D-Day 70 has demonstrated that there is a strong appetite in the local community for well researched and displayed Heritage.  Each of our talks filled the Church to capacity with over 200 paying visitors, and the ongoing Exhibition has continued to draw new and diverse visitors into the Church. Voluntary contributions have been very significant both in time and money, and we are very grateful.  This experience will be analysed and used to inform our Activity Plan in the next Phase of our Application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for funds to restore the fabric of the Church.