The project will seek to provide a full and definitive history of Yeovil Town FC from its inception in the late 1895, in a format that will be in keeping with modern digital practices with access available, free of charge, to members of the local community, and followers of the club worldwide.
Work will be commencing very shortly to start gathering over 260,000 photographs, books, newspaper cuttings, videos and other historic memorabilia, together with the design and creation of a website which will house all of the above items.
The project will be closely linked with the local community with local organisations such as the Dementia Unit at Yeovil Hospital, Yeovil College and the South West Heritage Trust being actively involved in bringing the project to fruition.
Janine Valentine, Nurse Consultant for Older People of the Dementia Unit at Yeovil Hospital said of the project: “Here at Yeovil Hospital, we really value the importance of reminiscence for our older patients, particularly those patients with a dementia.
“Our dementia specialist team and volunteers use reminiscence as a fundamental part of our practice and so we are delighted to be part of this fantastic YTFC archive project.
“As the football club has been such an integral part of our town’s history for so long, we look forward to being able to access this resource and using it to trigger memories and conversations with patients, many of who have followed the football club since they were children.
“Having such an exciting resource about a subject that will resonate so strongly with many of our older patients is really helpful to staff as opening a dialogue and sharing memories has a huge impact on a patient’s wellbeing.
“Older patients, and particularly those with a dementia, can often feel very isolated while in hospital and a resource like this is only going to make it easier for us to build their confidence and improve their wellbeing by stimulating enjoyable memories, sharing experiences and participating in conversations that they are enthusiastic about.”
John Evans, Principal at Yeovil College, whose students will also be playing a big part in the project, said: “I’m really excited about this project, and grateful for the Lottery grant and other grant aid that will enable it to happen. It’s really important to preserve all this history for future generations.
“We hope that Yeovil College’s involvement in this huge project will benefit residents and show them what a special place Yeovil is, not only where the town has come from but where it’s going, too.”
Earlier in the year the South West Heritage Trust received the club’s first deposit of photographs and documents. These are being catalogued and are available to view at the Somerset Heritage Centre. They include ledgers and minute books from the 1970s and 1980s and photographs from throughout the 20th century.
Esther Hoyle, Senior Archivist with the South West Heritage Trust said: “We’re delighted to support this project which will help to make the town’s rich sporting and social history available to many researchers and fans. The papers we have already received give great insight into the football world in the 1970s, such as the structure and the difficulties of various leagues, as well as capturing an image of Yeovil as a town itself, its people, streets, and businesses.
“We look forward to bringing our expertise to the initiative by providing the project team with training in research, handling and cataloguing of archival material.”
Yeovil Town Community Sports Trust, the football clubs charitable arm works in partnership with local communities by using the power of football and sport to inspire and engage with individuals in order to improve their lives and their community.
The funding from HLF has been made possible by National Lottery players. Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: “As we approach the 125th anniversary of Yeovil Town Football Club in 2020, we’re delighted to support plans to bring its story, and that of the town in which it has played a major role, to life for a global audience.
“The project will also provide opportunities for people of all ages to contribute to and enjoy Yeovil’s rich sporting and social heritage.”
Along with HLF, additional funding has been donated by Yarlington Homes, Yeovil Town Council, Yeovil Town Football Club and a private benefactor, all of whom the Football Club and Community Trust would like to thank for their generous donations.