Robin Russell served in the Royal Irish Rangers and the Royal Irish Regiment for 32 years until 2008. As an infantry officer, staff officer and instructor he was based mainly in Great Britain and Germany, but served on operations in Belize, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan, and as an arms control inspector throughout Europe. He was mentioned in despatches as a Company Commander in Northern Ireland.
During his service and since, he has guided or led battlefield tours covering Waterloo, WW1 battlefields in France, Flanders and Gallipoli – and WW2 campaigns throughout north-west Europe, Italy and Tunisia, as well as camps at Colditz, Buchenwald and Belsen. In addition to battlefield guiding, he is now engaged in other adult education roles and sometimes security consultancy.
He lives in North Yorkshire.
Students from years 8-11 at Teesdale and Barnard Castle School are currently collaborating on a 3-day creative writing programme. Given the rare chance to be off site in school time, the students over their first 2 days were given the opportunity to delve first-hand into The Bowes Museum’s archives, uncovering papers and letters that illustrated the museum’s roll in the local war effort.
2 students discovered that The Bowes Museum gardeners had been hard at work growing tomatoes to help convalescent soldiers in the local hospitals, and others found that both the Trustees and the Museum Curator Owen Scott had written a very convincing argument to the Government as to why the Museum shouldn’t be used as billets for troops. The fact that there weren’t kitchens or toilets in the building might have done it – that, or the priceless art!
As part of the Centenary Commemorations, The Bowes Museum’s WW1 Project aims to complete the work started by Scott and the Trustees in creating a Roll of Honour that names the men and women that “To Serve King and Country” played their part in the war effort 100 years ago.
These workshops play an essential part in bringing the museum and the project to a wider audience, offering unique ways for students to engage with the history that surrounds them. The end result will see the children writing their own creative response to the facts that they uncover – to be shared later in the year.