Happy New Year

Six months in…what have we achieved?

Happy New Year!

Six months in…what have we achieved?

Now six months into the project we start 2024 having established a strong and experienced team of project partners, leaders, advisors, coordinators and volunteers from across Devon.

We’ve had some great press coverage, our marketing material continues to attract attention and the end of 2023 saw the launch of the Telling Our Stories Project both in Honiton and Ilfracombe. 

The two launch events enabled us to share the success of previous projects, explore the stories for this current project and to make new friends and connections. We talked about the stories we wish to tell and how we might go about telling them.

Most importantly it was an opportunity to bring together a cross section of the community from each of these small market towns.  There was a buzz in the air that in coming together to work on a project like this, we can help to ensure that Honiton and Ilfracombe become known for welcoming diversity in all its forms, acknowledging the benefits that can bring to a community like ours.

Project plans for the next 6 months?

More Stories…Like that of the mysterious Indian ayah

Each week we discover more possible story leads. A photograph of a young Indian woman thought to be an ayah has been unearthed from the Tracey Estate family archive of photos. At a guess the year is 1858 but little is known about who she was, where she came from and what became of her.

For centuries, Indian girls known as ayahs were hired by wealthy British families to care for their children as nursemaids and nannies. Indian ayahs were employed to mother and care for the children of British families both on land and at sea, contributing to life in India, aboard ships and in Britain. While only a few settled in the British Isles, they can be considered an important group of late nineteenth- and early-twentieth century migrants.

Are you interested in helping us to research the story of this young woman and others like her?  We need your help to carry out the research, explore the archives.

Photograph courtesy of Tracey Estate: The Ayah and Little Gertrude @ 1858

More connections…with local historians, local school networks and local publishers

We have linked up with local historian Todd Gray, who through his numerous books and talks introduces something of Devon’s multicultural past including Devon’s 300 year history in African slavery that was largely unwritten about.

It is understood that Devon’s first black man was recorded in 1484. Between 1563 and 1807 some forty vessels left Devon ports to slave. Gray’s research uncovers the stories of the many former slave-owners who subsequently lived in fashionable seaside resorts across Devon, research that has uncovered evidence that at least 5,000 Africans were transported across the Atlantic from Devon.

Are you interested in helping us to find out about Honiton’s connections to the slave trade? Can the records help us to determine Honiton’s historical link to a global community, and the impact of that link both here and abroad?

We are excited about our new partnership with Offwell school and the network of village and Honiton-based primary schools. We hope to creatively engage the children in the stories we unearth, introduce them to our story tellers and encourage them to capture their own stories of multiculturalism.

Our volunteers and project partners bring with them stories of their own, as well a host of skills and experience. Equally as important is the network and wider community connections that they bring to the project. This can help ensure the stories we discover reach a wider audience.

Through these connections the project stories will appear in a wide range of publications both in print and online. These include the Honiton Library, Allhallows museum and the Thelma Hulbert Gallery monthly newsletters. The local newspapers and parish magazines,  and our latest partnership with the Romany & Traveller Family History Society who will be sharing our stories of Honiton’s Romany Gypsy heritage through their Romany Routes quarterly journal.

Do you have writing and editing skills, or publishing connections that may help us share the stories we have to tell?

More volunteers…to help with research, interviewing and telling their story.

Volunteers will play an important role in delivering this project and in return they’ll get full training and support. The project is a chance to meet new people, develop new skills and expand our understanding of the place we live.

We are still looking for people to join our team of volunteers, to help with research, collecting photos and memorabilia, as well as collaborating in planning and running events, tours and workshops. We are looking for people to share their stories and volunteers to record them.

Volunteers will receive training in archival research, oral history interviewing and storytelling.  The hours are flexible and full expenses covered. Could you be part of this change-making project, spearheading our aim to create a more inclusive society?

More opportunities… to explore, learn and discover.

The next six months will see a range of training and educational opportunities for volunteers. These include a trip to the Devon Heritage Centre, a tour of Exeter’s Multicultural past and oral history interview training. Read on to find out more…

Archive Training Day

We start with an Archives Training Day booked with Devon Heritage Centre in Exeter on Friday 26 January 2024. The day will offer our team of volunteers a brief introduction to the history of the Devon Archives, the main groups of records they hold, how archives are listed and looked after and a summary of services available for carrying out the research for our particular story leads.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer on the project and/or joining the tour of the archives should email

Devon Heritage Centre, Exeter

Walking Tours of Exeter’s Multicultural History

We’re really excited that Ghee Bowman will be taking us all on a tour across Exeter to introduce the stories unearthed from the first Telling Our Stories Project in 2012 that focused on Exeter’s Multicultural history.

Ghee was the coordinator for the first Telling Our Stories Project and his experience led him on a journey that he would never have imagined. So inspired by the stories they unearthed, Ghee went on to do a PhD at Exeter in 2016, having completed his MA in 2015. His research focused on the Muslim Indian soldiers who were in Europe during the Second World War.

It’s a little reminder of the individual life-changing impacts that projects like these can have on those that take part.

The tour, led by Ghee will take place on Friday 23 February 10am – 12pm starting from Exeter Cathedral EX1 1HS.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer and/or attending the tour should email:  

You can find out more here: Exeter’s Walking Multicultural Heritage Tour

Exeter’s Jewish Population 1177, Peter Blackmore Exeter Resident 1522, Portrait of an African 1757, St Sidwell, Sidwell Centre. Telling Our Stories Exeter Project  Timeline.

Ensure you are a part of the story for a more inclusive future

To keep up to date with project stories, news, events and opportunities visit  our Telling Our Stories Project website or our FaceBook Group TellingOurStoriesDevon

We call on you to help in sharing the stories we unearth, together we can ensure the stories reach a wider audience, create a larger ripple in the changing narrative and amplify the voice of those whose stories are being told.

If you have a story to tell that connects you to Honiton’s past and present multicultural heritage please don’t hesitate to contact us.

For links to Honiton contact Jess Huffman

For links to Ilfracombe contact Abi Obene