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Project begins to find child refugees who escaped Spanish Civil War

PUBLISHED: 09:19 04 February 2020 | UPDATED: 09:19 04 February 2020

Hoxne/Rollesby group evacuated from Spain following the German bombing of Guernica Picture: Used with kind permission of the University of Southampton Special Collections

Hoxne/Rollesby group evacuated from Spain following the German bombing of Guernica Picture: Used with kind permission of the University of Southampton Special Collections".

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An appeal has been launched to capture the stories of Spanish children evacuated to Norfolk in 1937, before it's too late.

Pampisford, Cambridgeshire group photograph: “This photograph from the late 1930s forms part of the BCA’37UK archive and is used and held in good faith. It is not always possible to identify the copyright holder, if any.”Pampisford, Cambridgeshire group photograph: “This photograph from the late 1930s forms part of the BCA’37UK archive and is used and held in good faith. It is not always possible to identify the copyright holder, if any.”

With many now in their 90s the first hand testimony is now "severely at risk" according to researchers at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).

Thousands of children were evacuated to the UK in 1937 following the German bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War - an event so terrifying their parents sent them away.

Norfolk was among areas to step up and welcome them with boys based in Rollesby and Hoxne, on the Norfolk and Suffolk border.

As part of Football Welcomes Refugees 2020, the project will also recreate an historic football fixture which saw the Basque Boys beat Great Yarmouth Boys 8-2 at the Wellesley Ground.

A re-match on October 21 1937, saw them triumph 9-0 at the same ground on Boxing Day.

Under the project researchers will look at the local volunteers who supported the children and also focus on efforts in Norwich to provide wider support to the people caught up in the conflict.

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Participants will create a showcase event, heritage publication, and exhibitions in Norwich and Cambridge to support Refugee Week 2020.

The Havens East project will be led by Dr Jeannette Baxter.

She said: "We are thrilled to have received this support thanks to National Lottery players.

"The heritage stories we want to preserve are severely at risk because of the advanced age of the Basque children and members of the local communities that served them, all of whom will now be in their 90s.

"The Cambridge Basque child refugee story has only partially been told and the Norfolk and Suffolk Basque child refugee story has not been told at all.

"With this project we have a unique opportunity to capture personal stories, memories and testimonies, and to bring generations together so that our younger participants can experience history at first hand."

ARU has received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £54,600 to investigate the lost histories.

If you or a family member helped to look after Basque refugees during the 1930s, email Jeannette.Baxter@anglia.ac.uk.

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