Shropshire veterans' National Service Days remembered in exhibition

The exploits of veterans during their National Service will be at the forefront of an innovative UK-wide heritage project.

Some of Ken's photos
Some of Ken's photos

Ken Grain, 89, from Oswestry is one of 18 former servicemen included in a National Lottery-funded project called National Service Remembered.

Fellow Shropshire residents David Ryan, of Market Drayton, and Eric Blackie and Galvin Carville, both from Shrewsbury, are also involved in the project, run by Same but Different, which uses the arts for positive social change and to bring communities closer together.

It has been 60 years since National Service ended in the UK and the campaign captures an important period of the country’s cultural history through the eyes of the men who served.

Mr Grain was posted to Singapore with the RAF as a radio direction operator and believes the project, powered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, provides a priceless insight into a unique period of Britain’s past.

Ken Grain
Ken Grain on National Service

The second oldest of the veterans involved in the campaign, he was conscripted in 1950.

“It's been fascinating going back into my National Service life and remembering. It's important to remember it because a lot of people felt that it was a wasted opportunity but it was the best thing for young people.

“I think the project is a very good way of letting people know what happened during National Service. I was one of the lucky ones, and it helped me with my future life.”

Mr Ryan, 82, served at Gobowen and was conscripted during the final year of National Service after graduating from university the year before.

David Ryan
David Ryan on National Service

He served in the Royal Artillery and Army before going on to work as a teacher when his days in the forces had come to an end.

He recently celebrated his diamond wedding anniversary with wife Heather.

“Anything that gives extra light to our history is useful to pursue," he said.

"For many it was a positive experience. broadening horizons. We must remember it was not all 'Carry on Sergeant' – people died.”

Galvin Carville
Galvin Carville on National Service

The men's stories are now being showcased with the help of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which uses money raised by The National Lottery to inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage.

Ceridwen Hughes, photographer and founder of Same but Different, has combined striking portraits, video interviews and written narratives to bring alive conscripts’ experiences in the exhibition.

She said: “We are really grateful to the players of the National Lottery who funded this project along with the Armed Forces Covenant Fund.”

Those who completed their National Service included Brian Blessed, Michael Caine and Anthony Hopkins, now household names.

Television veteran Johnny Ball, who served in the RAF during the 1950s, is supporting the Lottery-funded National Service Remembered campaign after describing his time serving as the making of him at the end of last year.

Ken Grain
Ken Grain on National Service

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