Students embark on RAF Stories mission

History students at the University of Leicester have teamed up with the RAF Museum, Cosford and students at De Montfort University for a community project to capture the memoirs of residents who share connections to the RAF.

Royal Air Force (RAF) history is embedded in Leicestershire. Residents who serve, or have served, in the RAF will have stories to tell, and family members and friends will have been told about these too. The county was also once home to several bases. History students at the University of Leicester are helping the Museum tap into the wealth of knowledge, experiences and personal recollections that stem from these connections.

Over the last 18 months, the RAF Museum, Cosford has captured stories up and down the country. Hundreds are now available online for the public to view. 

By working together with the University of Leicester, the Museum has expanded its reach, with 14 students now working in teams of two to capture stories about courage, love, tragedy, friendship, bravery, triumph, humour, happiness, sadness and everything in between. 

Sue Bishop, the University's Student Volunteer Coordinator for the project, said: “This really exciting project has captured the imagination of history students at various stages of their studies.

“This catalogue of stories will expand and enrich our understanding of the RAF today.”

Students underwent interview and recording training with the Museum’s Community Engagement Officer and Digital Content Producer.

Sue Bishop explained: “Everybody has received the necessary training and we are ready to start talking to and recording the RAF memories and stories that local people want to share.”

They will now spend the next six months interviewing and recording residents. 

The captured stories will be uploaded to the RAF Stories website so audiences around the world can listen to inspirational and ground-breaking recollections from former RAF personnel and their families.

RAF Stories is a global oral history project which digitalises and makes accessible engaging, historical and contemporary stories of people’s personal connections to the RAF, and the service’s influences on their lives.

Jess Boydon, RAF Museum Community Engagement Officer, said: “We are looking for stories from anyone with a connection to the Royal Air Force.”

“You could be a current serviceman or servicewoman, a veteran, an air cadet, have family links to the RAF or any other connection.”

The team of students at the University of Leicester are keen to spread the word about the project.

According to Sue Bishop: “This voluntary collaboration provides a great opportunity for students to engage with city and county residents and it will make sure that Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland's RAF Stories are collected and heard."

If you live in Leicestershire or beyond and would be happy to visit the University of Leicester to have your stories recorded, please get in touch by emailing or telephoning +44 (0)1902 376237.