Heugh Battery Museum volunteer issues rallying call to support Mail’s Battery Charge Campaign
Proud services veteran Wally Stewart has issued a rallying call to support the Mail’s campaign to save the town’s Heugh Battery Museum.
Wally, 76, who served in the Royal Air Force Regiment for 22 years, has been a valued volunteer at the museum for around 20 years.
He is backing the Mail’s Battery Charge campaign to try to help the Headland museum – the only World War One battlefield site in the whole of the UK – raise £5,000 it meeds to remain open.
Wally said: “I think it’s vitally important that Hartlepool does what it can for the battery.
“It’s a military heritage site. It is also a memorial site to the 100 odd people who lost their lives in the bombardment.
“Whilst it lasted only 49 minutes there was more than 100 people killed and 37 of them were children.
“As a memorial it is very important if nothing else.”
Wally was one of the original volunteers of the museum and got involved prior to its restoration in 199 thanks to a £315,000 National Lottery grant.
He remembers: “The late Pat Price of Headland Parish Council took me round and showed me the battery and I was immensely interested in it being ex-military.
“I could see the potential and when I found out it was a First World War battlefield I was hooked.”
Wally previously helped to bring a 1950s Bofors 40-70 antiaircraft gun to the battery from RAF Spadeadam, in Cumbria, in November 2011.
It was restored by volunteers and unveiled along with a plaque which stands by the gun in permanent tribute.
He also helps out in a variety of other roles.
Wally, who served in the RAF Regiment from 1966 to 1988, ending as a flight sergeant, added: “I usually do my duty on a weekend. At the moment I look after the reception desk because we are short of volunteers.”
How you can support our Battery Charge campaign
We are encouraging people to donate to the Heugh Battery Museum’s fundraising appeal at just.giving.com
The museum needs to raise at least £5,000 to stay open in the short term.
It is also encouraging more people to pay them a visit in Moor Terrace as it costs £3,500 a month to run.
It is currently relying on the goodwill of their pool of volunteers and income from school visits. But it needs more.
Museum manager Diane Stephens said: “It is use it or lose it.”
The museum is the only First World War battlefield in the UK as it saw action during the devastating bombardment of Hartlepool by German warships on December 16, 1914.
The site marks the spot where Private Theo Jones of the Durham Light Infantry was killed.
He was the first British soldier to be killed by enemy action on home ground in the war.
The battery site has been extensively restored to tell the story of that day and also educate visitors about the Second World War.
It boasts an impressive collection of antiaircraft guns, tanks, small arms, uniforms and other memorabilia.
To help keep this important amenity going, you can give to the Heugh Battery Museum Appeal at www.justgiving.com