Jay Blades and the team bring four treasured family heirlooms, and the memories they hold, back to life.
Today’s first arrival at the barn is a not just a cherished family possession but also an account of survival in the face of adversity. This Jewish prayer book belonged to Gary Fisher’s Austrian grandparents Emanuel and Gisela. They were unable to leave Austria after it was annexed by Germany in 1938 and were eventually sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp. Though many of Gary’s family didn’t survive the camps, at the end of the war Emanuel and Gisela were liberated along with the book. Signed by many of the camp’s other residents, it’s an important record of the era and a treasured family possession. This delicate restoration and conservation project is in the hands of the barn’s book expert Chris Shaw, who will need all of his book-binding skills to preserve this unique and treasured item.
Mark Stuckey’s audio expertise will be tested by the barn’s next arrival – an ageing and very damaged radio brought in by Geoff Allum and his wife Jane. This radio is showing all the signs of the wild adventure on which it accompanied Geoff and his late cousin Donald. In 1971, they set off in a two-man rowing boat to cross the Atlantic from east to west. It took them just over 73 days, and the radio was a vital tool on their adventure. With just a sextant for navigation, listening to the BBC World Service gave Geoff and Don an accurate time of day to help them establish their location, chart their progress and work out for how long they would need to preserve and ration their precious stores of fresh water. Though the radio is badly damaged and hasn’t worked for many years, Geoff is hoping Mark’s expertise may mean he can one day hear it playing again.
Next to arrive at the barn, a stylish futuristic mid-century chair brought in by Tracy Dodds and her daughter Florrie. The chair was bought in the 1970s by Tracy’s father Guy, a keen follower of fashion and design. Not only was it an enclosed egg design finished in striking white with red upholstery, but inside it held a hidden secret that delighted Tracy and her siblings – a set of speakers that would envelope the sitter in the sounds of their dad’s favourite Elvis tracks. Sadly, the speakers haven’t worked for nearly 30 years, and the chair itself is showing its age, with the shell and upholstery deteriorating. To revive this stunning piece back to its best, it will need a combination of the talents of the barn’s upholstery expert Sonnaz Nooranvary and resident electronics whizz Mark Stuckey.
Finally, Ramzi Al-Nayazi has brought in a treasured toy from his childhood growing up in Iraq. It’s a mechanical horse-racing game from the 1950s, and Ramzi fondly remembers his whole family gathered round this game, cheering on their chosen horses. Ramzi brought the game with him when he left Baghdad, but it hasn’t worked for many years, and now he is keen to play it again with his own family. The runners and riders are going to need the modelling and mechanical skills of David Burville and the expertise of fabric aficionado Sara Dennis to get them back across the finishing line.