It has been a busy few months of gathering: we have undertaken 26 in-depth interviews so far, and we have been receiving additional written reminiscences and photographs through the post. This has been an amazing opportunity to capture and preserve some of the history of this community as it approaches the 60th anniversary. We are grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for helping us achieve this.
The first interview conducted was with Gaynor Smith, who founded the community with her husband Percy. When Gaynor was asked to reflect on what Pilsdon has represented for her, she offered the following response:
"I think it represented a refuge of some kind, a place where people could just be themselves, where people didn’t have to pretend, that was the main thing about it, I think. The people who came all said, ‘We don’t have to pretend any longer.’ They didn’t have to make up stories about themselves or pretend that they weren’t depressed or that they hadn’t been alcoholics or anything. Nobody had to pretend, so… I think people looked at it, looked upon it as a place… It was a place of worship, of course, it was a church really. But I think insofar as people… I don’t know what the outside world thought of Pilsdon really, but the people who were at Pilsdon, I’m sure thought of it as a place where they could just be themselves, there was no need to put on any side or put on anything that they weren’t, they could just be what they were [...]
Everybody accepted everybody else and they accepted the other people’s stories".
If you would like to contribute to this project with your stories, do get in touch.