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Modern technology tells stirring story of RAF's New Forest airfields



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Guests gathered around the new welcome touch table after it had been unveiled by MP Tobias Ellwood (left)
Guests gathered around the new welcome touch table after it had been unveiled by MP Tobias Ellwood (left)

NEW state-of-the-art displays telling the story of New Forest airfields during the Second World War has been unveiled at a memorial and heritage centre in Bransgore.

The Friends of the New Forest Airfields (FONFA) welcomed special guests including Lord and Lady Montagu and Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood who is a defence minister.

Members, civic leaders, veterans and those who have funded, assisted and supported the transformation were also invited to attend the event.

The launch of the equipment included interactive touch tables and panels, a ceiling-mounted projector, improved wall displays and audio guides.

FONFA chair of trustees, Dr Henry Goodall, said: “The new equipment will transform what we have to offer and how we are able to tell the story of the airfields.

“A 55 inch floor-mounted ‘welcome’ interactive touch table will introduce visitors to the centre’s contents and describe the location of the airfields on a large map.

“Touching an airfield location ‘hot button’ on the map will provide some general information about the individual airfield to be displayed.

“Additional ‘touch panels’ will bring up photos and descriptions of early flying and the First World War, the former RAF Sopley Camp, the principle of the temporary advanced landing grounds, and the differences between them and the more permanent concrete runway airfields.

“In addition, 30 of the existing explanatory wall panels, which all consisted of eight laminated A4-size paper sheets on cardboard in metal frames, have been replaced by newly created single sheet panels, presenting the same information in a more modern format.”

Some of the new information boards at the New Forest Airfields Heritage Centre
Some of the new information boards at the New Forest Airfields Heritage Centre

Dr Goodall said the national park authority’s archaeology department had also recently agreed to fund 10 hand-held audio guides for the centre.

“There will no longer be a need for personal guiding by trustees and volunteer members,” he said.

Unveiling the new welcome touch table, Mr Ellwood said: “To look around at what is on display here is a wonderful reminder of what Britain’s heritage is all about and what makes this country great.

“I am so pleased money has been put into places like this. These little ‘incubator units’ of our history are wonderful signposts to our past and what we did when we were called to step up to the plate.

He added: “In under 100 days’ time we will mark 75 years since the incredible D-Day landing when 130,000 troops landed in Normandy at the beginning of the end of the Second World War to start the push to Berlin and end that horrific chapter in European history.

“I brought my children along today to remind them of our heritage and why Britain perhaps is a little bit different than other countries because of our history, our standards and the values that we uphold.”

A public open day will be held this Sunday between 10am and 4pm at the New Forest Airfields Memorial & Heritage Centre located at the western end of the Heatherstone Grange housing estate.

For more information visit fonfasite.wordpress.com/



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