Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Carry on Camping: Our Amazing Holidays with Binky, Reany and Merlin

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Carry on Camping: Our Amazing Holidays with Binky, Reany and Merlin

Article excerpt

Byline: TONY HENDERSON HERITAGE

Chris and Steph Trewick with their van Merlin STORY collector Alex Henry didn't have far too look for the driving force behind her latest project - it was on the driveway of her Tyneside home.

Alex and her family of husband Marty and daughters Cara, seven and Rowan three, are VW campervan owners and as such are part of a community of fellow enthusiasts who have forged a special bond with their vehicles. Alex is founding member and operations manager of community interest company Curiosity Creative, which collects, creates and archives digital stories - giving all sorts of people a voice.

The North Shields-based company's latest venture, backed by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, has been to gather tales from VW campervan owners on why the model holds such an important place in their affections and lives.

Given that the vans tend to become one of the family, they are invariably given names - Alex and Marty's camper is called Binky.

The project has resulted in a book titled Home is Where You Park It: Stories and Memories from the VW Community, with the contributions being archived at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu in Hampshire.

Alex said: "It is good to see the Heritage Lottery Fund recognising contemporary history. "It is important that this heritage is recognised in the official record.

"The UK's VW community is united not only by VW ownership but also by the stories and memories collected along the way.

"We have recorded the heritage of the VW campervan by immortalising people's stories and preserving them as part of our history.

"For me, it is a personal passion and we imported our vehicle from the United States.

"They mean different things to different people. For some, the vans are projects to work on, for others it is about the camping, the idea of freedom, or the nostalgia of the 60s and 70s.

"There is a sort of romanticism about them."

Ivor Crowther, head of HLF North East, said: "For many VW campervan owners, they aren't just a means of transport but a way of life.

"We are pleased to support this project which will provide an insight into an important part of popular culture and delves into memories and stories spanning more than six decades."

VW owners get together at rallies, and Alex was one of the organisers of last year's first such event at Woodhorn Museum in Northumberland, with a repeat this year on August 20.

Previous rallies have taken place at Tynemouth and one of the organisers was Mark Stutt, from North Shields, who said: "The stories and memories of campervan owners have a great social importance and the project allows them to become a permanent record."

Mark is one of the book contributors: "When I met my wife we went camping a few times. On one occasion we were in the Yorkshire Dales in the middle of a rain storm, and on to the camp site came a Volkswagen T2. …

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