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Cogenhoe & Whiston Heritage Society was founded in the year 2000 - we are now in our 18th year. During that time, our mandate has not wavered - to study record and stimulate interest in the heritage of our two villages and their surrounding areas. At the time of writing the Society has some 68 members.
The Society organises and manages an annual programme of 12 open meetings in which it invites knowledgeable speakers to talk on a wide variety of subjects of local interest. In addition, it funds a number of research projects which explore elements of the past history of the two parishes. In 2001, it launched an Oral History Project which recorded for posterity the memories of villagers who had lived locally through the first half of the 20th Century. Out of some 60 hours of recordings, the Society produced a fascinating and compelling CD called ''The Voices of Cogenhoe''.
Using the same recordings as a source, Dr Steven Hollowell, a local historian and a founder member of the Society, wrote and published a comprehensive history of the village in the first half of the 20th century called ''Cogenhoe, a Century of Change. The Society has developed an extensive photographic archive and this stimulated the publication, in 2009, of the book ''The Tale of Two Villages'' which brought to life in photographs happy memories of years gone by. ln addition, the Society launched a ''Green Plaque Scheme'' which marks and celebrates buildings in the village that have played a significant part in its past history
The War Memorial Project was born out of a fervent wish to remember the ultimate sacrifice made by the young men of Cogenhoe in the Great War. This wish was made more pressing by the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914. The project team had two intentions. The first was that it was of the utmost importance to everybody today that the significance of the First World War should not be lost. Indeed, we wished not only to commemorate the hardship and sacrifices of a previous generation we wanted to promote them, to shout them from the rooftops, to make them more public and more appreciated.
Secondly we wanted the names on the Cogenhoe War Memorial to be known as more than just names. We wanted to reveal them as people, as young men with mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, with girlfriends, indeed some with children. We wanted them to be seen as people with careers, with hopes and aspirations, with loves and hates and with their own characters, full of strengths and weaknesses. We wanted to see them as people. We wanted to ''bring them alive again'' albeit for a few moments, so that we could better appreciate the loss when their young lives were cruelly cut short. ln the following pages we hope we have gone some way to achieving those objectives.
The War Memorial Project has fallen into two parts. The first was essentially physical - to refurbish the Village War Memorial on the Green so that the men who died could be proud of it. This was achieved in November 2014 when Mr Michael Maynard of The Headstone Cleaning Company brought his considerable skill to bear in cleaning, polishing and re-etching the stonework and the names on it. He has successfully removed the ravages of time. ln this endeavor, the Society was supported financially and in other a ways by the Cogenhoe & Whiston Parish Council, the War Memorial Trust and the Cogenhoe Parochial Church Council. We are grateful to all of them. The second part of the project was the researching, writing and publication of this tribute. For the extensive research we thank Diane Ovett and Terry Coles ably supported by Alan Jukes, Richard Deacon and other members of the Society They trawled through all the available documentation and left no stone unturned.
With the War Heroes project completed. However the Green Plaque project did get a major fillip this year. Rather moribund since 2014, owing to lack of funding, it kicked off again with an initiative helped by the New Homes Bonus scheme under the aegis of South Northants Council. An application was made in the summer and an award to cover 11 plaques was granted. This is very much ongoing, and the plaques together with an accompanying heritage trail will be appearing later this year .Something else that got backed into an overgrown siding has been the Map Project. I am delighted to say that it has been rediscovered, dusted down and will be taken forward to its conclusion in the coming year.