Sidmouth man’s national campaign History Begins at Home connects people with their past

An archivist who grew up in Sidmouth is inviting you to take a trip down memory lane and remember your worst school dinner, your favourite TV advert and your family’s first car.

The History Begins at Home campaign, to connect people with their past, has been launched by Gary Tuson, 54, was grew up in Sidmouth but now lives in Norfolk.

The aim of the project is to connect families and friends of all ages with their history, spark conversations and combat loneliness.

Photographs, food, cars and transport, music, travel, school dinners, games, television adverts and programmes are just some of the talking points the project uses to jog memories and connect people, young and old.

The project uses social media to spark debates and a website to encourage people to record their memorable moments to collate family history for future generations.

Gary, who as a boy went to The King’s School, in Ottery St Mary, and lived at Alexandria Road, Sidmouth, started his career at the Devon Record Office.

He is now county archivist at Norfolk Record Office and head of History Begins at Home.

Gary said taking a trip down memory lane has helped those dealing with isolation during lockdown, and was a way of sparking conversations with the elderly.

He said: “COVID-19 has created all sorts of challenges such as separation, isolation and hardship. It’s also highlighted some incredible positives, like our resilience, the power of community and the desire to help one another.

“History Begins at Home is the perfect antidote during this period. It’s a fun way to pass some time together on the phone, via FaceTime, Zoom, WhatsApp or other apps.

“It will also help participants take small steps to re-ignite conversations with their families about the past.

“And, with so much emphasis on mental health and well-being during the lockdown, the campaign is an ideal way for people to engage with the recommended ‘five ways to well-being’ – connect, give, be active, take notice and keep learning.”


The project was launched by Gary Tuson, who grew up in Sidmouth.

Throughout the campaign, History at Home will kick-start conversations and discussions around aspects of childhood and adulthood, across the generations.

Each week it will focus on a different theme about the past, such as toys, games and food.

Activities, quizzes and challenges encourage people to share what they have done through the History at Home Facebook and Twitter pages.

History Begins at Home is a joint project between the chief archivists in Local Government Group and the Archives for Wellbeing Network.

It is led by Gary Tuson, county archivist at Norfolk County Council, and supported by The Archives and Record Association.

The project is funded by The (UK) National Archives and the Norfolk Archives and Heritage Development Foundation.

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The History Begins at Home project uses food, TV programmes, cars, travel, music and more to spark conversations

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