FAQs ... find out a bit more about the Charity's background and philosophy
Why and how?
The Secret WW2 Learning Network had already existed informally since 2012 because its eventual co-founders -"the two Martyns" - had realised that via they had a shared interest in the same aspects of WW2 history, and had also recognised that the people - and particularly the veterans - they'd been meeting in France and Britain, and also the organisations they'd dealt with, were all part of a network - albeit informal. It already existed ... but those in it just had spotted this yet!
So they immediately saw the potential for joining up the dots to activate this network as a way of taching more and younger people about the
The Secret WW2 Learning Network was registered as a educational charity in 2014, although it originally had the more long-winded name of The Secret War Museums & Learning Network. They first wanted to prove to others and themselves that they could fulfil the commitments made within the Charity's stated Objects- that’s the rather formal sounding statement of intent that has to be declared when any charity registers with the Charity Commission, and this was it -
The advancement of the education of the general public in the nature, perception, context, history, impact and consequences of covert operations during times of conflict and in particular the covert Allied operations during the Second World War with a focus on those who took part in clandestine operations in support of resistance in occupied France and also the actions of the French resisters themselves - both military and civilian - and the experiences of their fellow civilians whose country had been occupied.
Having already instigated several events and educational initiatives the team werr able to hit the ground running, and one of the Charity’s original purposes was in any case to become an educational outreach service to the History department of University of Sussex. This relationship has been of enormous benefit to both organisations and from the outset had certainly given ‘instant’ credibility to the Charity, especially when Prof Rod Kedward, the university’s highly regarded resistance historian, kindly agreed to become a founding Trustee.
And yet, even though The Secret WW2 Learning Network had been so active ever since, in France as well as Britain, with some pretty impressive initiatives already to its credit, all this had been achieved despite not having attracted significant donations or grants until the very recent Brighton’s Secret Agents project.
The Charity's very existence for more than two years had only been possible due to the generous ‘start up’ and ongoing contributions made personally by our co-founders and one Trustee- and so this is an opportunity to re-emphasise ...
Why are donations so vital now?
This web site is an expense which can be seen by everyone, and it plays a vital role as the Charity's online brochure and shop window in one via its regularly updated information about recent and forthcoming activities - but many more of our outcomes are often greatly appreciated and highly praised, and yet their funding has merely been taken for granted -
Recording audio or video interviews with the last few remaining ‘secret warriors’ who are still alive and well enough to tell their tales, so that these can be added our already extensive oral history archive.
Turning our archive into learning resources - including videos for free online access - by digitising existing or acquired interviews and archive material
Instigating ever more links between appropriate museums, veterans associations, learning institutions and local communities in France as well as Britain
Covering the costs which enable the Charity to develop special commemorative events and, when possible, make many of them free to the public
Covering some or all of the expenses involved when getting veterans and carers to special events
Covering the expenses of guest contributors such as historian speakers - that's the least we can do if they'll take part in an event or other initiative
Owning and storing the equipment needed for presentations and other events, as this is more cost-effective than always having to hire these items
Producing display and other promotional material - there’s no point in doing what we do unless we can also publicise all this so as to engage wider audiences - and that brings us back to this web site again ...
Improving and expanding this web site as the Charity's resource platform and also the 'shop window' for fundraising and promotion
The continuation of activities such as those is why the Charity needs ongoing income of any amounts, to ensure that we can cover the basic month-to-month costs while also developing new initiatives for which we can then seek specific extra funding and other support from the appropriate sources.
So the bottom line is quite simply this .... when we ask for donations we really do mean it, and that time is NOW!
The University of Sussex
The Charity and the University of Sussex History department have already been partners for a number of lower key but significant initiatives, with more to come. These have included co-founder Martyn Cox's twice yearly role in the university's Widening Participation scheme for sixth-form age First Generation Scholars whereby they have the unique opportunity of first-hand production experience while filming and editing - on campus and off - short films based on interviews from the Our Secret War video archive. That archive is also used by undergraduates and postgrads too as a teaching and research resource.
In addition the university and Charity are also advising on the development of a brand new museum in Normandy, but the November 2016 Brighton’s Secret Agents project - combining the instigation of four blue plaques commemorating four Brighton-born SOE agents with the start of a programme of talks, films, exhibits and schools projects - has been this partnership's most ambitious initiative to date.
This only became possible by combining the innovative ideas and creative energy of the Charity team with the prestige of the University of Sussex, because this meant in turn that the project was taken seriously by The Gerry Holdsworth Special Forces Trust when applying for financial support; and if that funding application had not been successful then almost none of what has proved such a popular and impactful Brighton project would have been possible.
Having achieved such a successful week in Brighton NOW means that the Charity will be in far better position when instigating new learning projects and approaching future potential partners and funders ... so please support us by donating, so that we can keep that momentum going!