Media Release                                                                                28th September 2023                    

Be part of the story for a more inclusive society – a call for volunteers in Honiton and Ilfracombe for exciting new multicultural history project             

Devon Development Education (DDE), a global learning charity, is calling for volunteers in Honiton and Ilfracombe to get in touch to take part in an exciting new multicultural history project that offers high level training and the chance to meet like-minded people.

The Telling our Stories, Finding Our RootsDevon’s Multicultural History project promises to unearth exciting new, previously hidden archive and contemporary stories in the two towns revealing Devon’s long multicultural history, a history that’s currently not commonly known but indicators show it to be there.

Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund the project continues on from two similar projects in Exeter (2013), then Tiverton, Bideford and Okehampton (2019-2020).

Jess Huffman (Honiton) and Abi Obene (Ilfracombe) have been appointed as the Community Heritage Coordinators (CHCs) in each town to lead volunteers in collecting oral history stories from people from ethnically diverse backgrounds and to research archives to uncover multi-cultural stories.

Volunteers will be given high quality training in how to do this. The project is seeking volunteers from all backgrounds but particularly those from ethnically diverse backgrounds.

Hilda Kalap, the Project Coordinator, says: “The common view is that Devon’s population has always been white, Anglo-Saxon and monocultural. However more evidence has and continues to emerge – particularly following two similar projects we undertook – that the real history is quite different. In fact Devon has a long multicultural history that’s not commonly known about. We’re slowly but surely changing widely-held perceptions and understanding with our work.”

Stories collected from previous projects have led to new educational resources, museum exhibitions, walking tours and a website

Hilda Kalap continues: “Volunteering on this project is a chance to be a part of the story, gain new skills that could lead to a career, meet like-minded people, make new friends and create a more inclusive society for future generations.”

The project is much needed, especially at this time, when not only are the stories of ethnically diverse people at risk of being lost because they are not being recorded and saved but also because negative portrayals of asylum seekers and refugees has created a more challenging environment for those from multi-cultural backgrounds.

Facts discovered in previous projects include that in Okehampton enslaved people were freed at the crossroads as far back as 980 AD; that by 1715 Exeter had a sizeable population of French Hugenots who’d fled persecution in their home country and that in 1969 two men from Hong Kong opened the first Chinese restaurant in Tiverton.

Volunteers in Honiton and Ilfracombe will be supported to collect at least six oral histories and memory pieces on particular themes. Archives research will aim to uncover at least five local histories relating to multicultural diversity

The project which started in June 2023, will take 18 months to complete, finishing at the end of 2024. Those interested in volunteering should contact or look on Devon Development Education’s website:


For further information please contact Hilda Kalap, Project Coordinator: or Tel: 07983216793

Notes to Editors:

Research findings and oral histories will be shared in a number of ways including exhibitions, events, a self-guided walking tour booklet, teaching resources and on the Telling Our Stories website

All items of research, oral histories and exhibition materials will be offered to the local museums.

Devon Development Education is a global education charity (reg 1102233), based at The Global Centre, 17 St David’s Hill, Exeter, EX4 3RG, with over 20 years’ experience of providing expertise to schools and communities in Devon.

We develop and run projects with groups throughout the county. We aim to provide a ‘window on the world’, to enable children and adults to understand links between their own lives and those of others worldwide; and to develop skills, attitudes and values which enable people to work together to bring about change to create a just and sustainable world.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund was set up in 1994 to fund projects of all sizes that connect people and communities to the UK’s heritage.  In that time it has invested £8.8 billion in heritage and supported 51,000 heritage projects.