Unique military memorabilia is in danger of being packed away from public view

The War Years Remembered Museum houses a unique collection of military memorabilia, including personal effects belonging to the World War Two hero, Blair ‘Paddy’ Mayne.

It is in danger of being packed away for good unless new premises can be found to put it on public display

It is a treasure trove of genuine artefacts, but changes in rates relief and a drop in donations when restrictions were in place, have forced the Charity to move out of its current premises in Ballyclare with no home to go to.

David McCallion is the Museum’s curator. He said: “It's breaking my heart but I also feel that I am letting the veterans down because a lot of families have entrusted us with stuff. And whether it goes into storage for a short time or long time, it means that people won’t have access to it and it’s important that we can create a legacy for future generations”.

The priceless memorabilia includes military vehicles and decommissioned weaponry from the two World Wars and the 1916 Easter Rising.

It also has an exhibition reflecting living conditions during those periods.

The collection is so huge that it needs to be stored in warehouse-type premises.

No suitable alternative location within the Charity’s tight budget has been found to date and it looks like everything will be packed away in boxes in the New Year.

The family of SAS founder Blair ‘Paddy’ Mayne entrusted the Museum to exhibit is personal belongings alongside the thousands of other artefacts on loan to the Charity.

“I was completely overwhelmed when the family entrusted us with his personal belongings,” said David, “When the collection arrived with us three years ago we weren’t sure what was in it.

On investigation, it has revealed a lot about him and the kind of man he was. It’s showing him in a completely different light. More than any author has ever written about him”

Visitors including veterans, schoolchildren, and people with dementia, have toured this treasure trove over the years to learn about the shared experience of war.

96-year-old Veteran Winnie Martin met her husband Sammy when they were both posted to Cairo during the Second World War. He served under Blair Mayne. She's now campaigning to save the museum

She said: “I have visited the Museum and it was educational to see how it progressed through the war years, not only in the army, but to see how civilians lived during those times, how they managed, and all the rest of it.”

Winnie added: “I think it would be a mortal sin to close out. The things I learned were things that I knew nothing about. Yet I'd served in the British Army in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service living through those years.”

But if the charity trustees don’t find new premises soon to house this unique collection, it looks like the Museum itself will be consigned to the history books.

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