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Announcing the Eulogy Project

Daniel Bloomfield came to Leeds from Jamaica in 1954. The studio photo is typical of those included in funeral programmes of first generation Jamaicans and other West Indians. Photo: Gerald Donne

We are thrilled to announce that the Jamaica Society Leeds, has received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £81,900 for the Eulogy project commemorating the lives of the city’s first generation Jamaicans. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the project aims to celebrate the lives, heritage and contributions of those who made the journey from the Caribbean island and who have since passed away.

Supported through the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we will work with the Society’s members, local community, and families of first generation Jamaicans no longer with us to gather the content featured in their funeral programmes – often elaborate printed booklets typical in Jamaican and other Caribbean communities.

Chair of the Jamaica Society, Reverend Dorothy Stewart said,

“We are delighted to receive this support thanks to National Lottery players. Eulogy will help us to capture the individual stories of the city’s first generation Jamaicans, who arrived as young adults and children, some pre Windrush, and often spent their last days here. Many who are still with us are in their 80’s and 90’s. They hold the memories, heritage and traditions they brought with them from Jamaica, which we should pre serve today for future generations.”

Typical to the funeral programmes are printed and read eulogies, and photos taken shortly after arrival to send home to family back in Jamaica. Like most new to Leeds West Indians, Jamaicans used Gerald Donne Photography at 16 then 105 Chapeltown Road. Together, the photos and eulogy tell rich life stories and often reveal new details.

The content collected will be showcased at the Eulogy Exhibition from August 1st to September 1st at Room 700 in Leeds Central Library running alongside mini versions in community locations and will also feature in a Eulogy book, and online teaching resources at MyLearning.org

Eulogy Programme Director & Exhibition Curator, Susan Pitter said,

“Eulogy will be a touching, uplifting tribute to a generation who left everything and everyone 5,000 miles behind to answer Britain’s call to its Commonwealth citizens. What’s great about Eulogy is that it crosses generations, tells stories that anyone can relate to and reflects not only the DNA of the Jamaican community – but of the city too and I am honoured to help protect and share their inspirational stories.”

Volunteers will receive training in heritage and other skills and will help to launch a Jamaica Heritage Trail in the city’s permanent collections of Leeds Libraries. They will also help with the collection of photography and community interviews.

David Renwick, Head of the National Lottery Heritage Fund Yorkshire and the Humber, said,

“We believe that heritage should be inclusive and want to empower communities to explore and tell their stories. Caribbean and West Indian migration has played a significant role in shaping the culture and heritage of Leeds and West Yorkshire. We’re delighted, that thanks to National Lottery players, we can support the Jamaica Society to explore and celebrate the contributions of the Jamaican community to our heritage, acknowledging its impact on the region and promoting better understanding in the wider community.”

Eulogy will run until early 2020 and will also include a series of workshops and events for all ages in memoir writing, storytelling, ancestry, Jamaican culture and heritage.

If you are interested in sharing photos, funeral programmes and other items for the project please bring them to our first collection event at Jamaica House, 277 Chapeltown Road, Leeds LS7 3HA on Sunday 17th March from 1pm to 6:00pm.

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