Time capsule recording covid pandemic for posterity buried at Hatherleigh Primary School

Wednesday 8th June 2022 9:00 am
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Hatherleigh Primary School had a visit from local councillors, history society members and members of Dennis Bater’s family for the buying of the time capsule; below, Dennis’s son Garry buries the capsule. Pictures: Jo Monger.

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A TIME capsule has been buried at Hatherleigh Primary School recording what life was like for people living through the coronavirus pandemic in the town, writes Sarah Pitt.

The capsule will be opened in 50 years’ time to remind a new generation of strange times. Among the items buried in the capsule was a copy of When Hatherleigh Stood Still, the book put together by Hatherleigh town councillor Donna Lewis recording life during coronavirus in the town.

The book, like the time capsule, is dedicated to ‘Mr Hatherleigh’ Dennis Bater, who died in April 2020 of coronavirus at the age of 79. The ceremony on Thursday, May 26 saw Dennis’s son Garry bury the capsule, watched by other members of the Bater family, school head Alan Monger, who contributed to the time capsule, and children of the Year 6 school council.

Also present were Hatherleigh mayor Clare Tyson and borough councillor Patrick Kimber along with Monica Jones of Hatherleigh History Society, who worked closely with Dennis on town history.

Garry said the idea of the time capsule would massively appealed to his dad Dennis, who was Hatherleigh’s history buff. ‘It was exactly what Dad would have loved. Whenever he did building work he would leave his mark, put his initials and the date. He loved anything to do with history. And his book is in there too.’

Donna said: ‘It was always my plan to do a time capsule because I thought it would be an end point to the project. Also in the capsule we have contributions from the mayor, the headteacher, pictures, the newspaper, a Parish Pump and the school put in things from the children.’

She added: ‘It has brought a really nice finish to it, putting everything in there and thinking that in 50 years time a new generation will dig it up. We even put in covid testing kits and face masks. People in 50 years’ time are not necessarily going to remember exactly what we had to do, what we had to put up with.’

Hatherleigh Primary School headteacher Alan Monger said: ‘From our point of view as a school, we were really pleased to have representatives of the town council and the Bater family and the local history society visiting our site. The time capsule is going to be in the school grounds for a number of years. We were talking to the children and saying that unfortunately, most of the adults won’t be here in 50 years’ time but the children will be in their 60s when the time comes to open it up again.

‘There are photographs and information about the children and activities they did and the day-to-day things. I have written a letter to the community, telling them about what the school has been through in the pandemic, how we got through it. There are lots of really nice photographs to show what it was like. It is all paper copies because in 50 years’ time we have no idea what the technology will be like, but hopefully good old-fashioned paper and photographs will work for them.’

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