29th February 2024

The two main reasons for volunteers taking part in Telling Our Stories, Finding Our
Roots, Devon’s multicultural history project, are ‘gaining new skills’ and ‘trying
something new’ showing that age is definitely no barrier to wanting to expand
knowledge as the majority of participants are aged 50 plus.

Now at the halfway stage of the project the volunteers are uncovering emerging
multicultural stories focusing on the towns of Honiton and Ilfracombe, many of which
have remained hidden until now, including that of the first female Mayor of Honiton,
Juanita Philips, originally from Chile, a Spanish speaker, suffragette and campaigner on
many other issues. The grandfather-in-law of one volunteer was her chauffeur and issharing his experiences of working for her.

Other emerging strands include the stories of Indian girls (ayahs) who were hired by
wealthy British families to care for their children as nursemaids and nannies.
While only a few settled in the British Isles, they can be considered an important group
of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century migrants.

Hilda Kalap, Project Coordinator says: “These stories will leave a legacy evidencing a
richer history of Devon, different to the myth that the county is largely monocultural.
New educational and digital resources will be created as a result as well as a new
exhibition and self-guided historical walking tours in the two towns. It’s exciting to be at
the forefront of representing the true history of Devon”.

Other reasons volunteers have given for taking part are an interest in research, history
and talking to people.

So far eight volunteers have received training in how to carry out archive research from
the Devon Heritage Centre and next on the horizon is oral history training which will be
delivered in March by Jess Huffman the Project Coordinator in Honiton.

Training in storytelling will take place in the coming months.

There’s still time to join as a volunteer – so if you’ve a connection to either Honiton or
Ilfracombe, have an interest in history, research, talking to people or have your own
story to tell then do get in touch.

There’s the chance to meet with like-minded people, full training is given, expenses paid
and the hours are flexible.

Says Ms Kalap: “Our stories connect us – and that’s vital at a time when the world is
going through turmoil and conflict.”


For further information please contact Hilda Kalap:
hildatosfor@gmail.com or Tel: 07983216793

Notes to editors

The Telling Our Stories, Finding Our Roots project began in June 2023 and will take
18 months to complete, finishing at the end of 2024. It is funded by the National Lottery
Heritage Fund.

It continues two previous Telling Our Stories projects in Exeter, Tiverton, Bideford and

Website: https://www.tellingourstoriesdevon.org.uk/

The project is run by Devon Development Education 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.