Sharing WW1 medal stories with Leeds’ online generation

Young people from Leeds can now get closer to the city’s First World War legacy through WW1 Medal Stories, a new interactive from Leeds Museums and Galleries and My Learning (www.mylearning.org).

The interactive tells the stories of six people whose medals are in the Leeds Museums Collections, including:

  • Nurse Phyllis Tessier, who received the Red Cross Medal for spending over 1,000 hours caring for injured servicemen.
  • Sydney Gilliat, a pilot with the newly-formed Royal Air Force.
  • Alfred and Thomas Place, brothers from Leeds who were both awarded medals for bravery.

These personal stories allow children to understand the significance of being awarded a medal in World War One and the varied experiences that ordinary people had during the conflict.

Using the WW1 Medal Stories interactive, they can explore the features of military medals and the meanings behind them, then design their own medals and view them in 3-D. There are additional activities, including following key wartime events on a map and writing a letter to a WW1 prime minister.

Young people from across the UK have submitted many thoughtful medal designs so far, including:

‘The Award of Bravery – For being brave and caring in WW1’  – Ben Fletcher, St Peter and Paul School, Yeadon.

‘The Animal Kingdom Award – For those who helped save millions of animals during World War 1 and many more wars going on in the world. I chose red for the hard work and the effort the men and women put in to try and save the animals. I chose brown because the men and women had and have to work in such poor conditions.’ – Leah Thomas, Maiden Beech School, Somerset.

Some students have created medals for celebrated individuals, like Millie May Hall from St Matthew’s School in Leeds, who made a medal for Nelson Mandela. Others have been inspired by the stories of the people featured in the interactive. Abigail Hodgson, also from St Matthew’s, wanted to award a medal to Alfred Place ‘For thinking of others before himself.’

Lorna Wadwell, Millie and Abigail’s class teacher at St Matthew’s School, said:

The children were very excited about being able to design medals on-line. They enjoyed the information pages too and especially learning about real people who were awarded medals. The information provided a nice overview at the right level and was great to use.

On Remembrance Day, 91 pupils from just one school used the interactive to create medals designs. It is hoped that the interactive will continue to inspire children to think about WW1. Every month a selection of the most interesting designs will be featured on My Learning.

You can try out the WW1 Medal Stories interactive at www.mylearning.org/ww1-medal-stories.

Free medals postcards and stickers are on offer for teachers. Just contact the My Learning team on info@mylearning.org for more information or via Twitter @mylearning_org.

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