Big Ideas delivered the first of a series of events for older people’s networks in London at the Abbey Centre in Westminster at the end of January. 

The Young at Heart group, along with The Card Sharks, formed an audience of 25 people. Together, they watched the Remember Together films, in which four nuclear test veterans meet young people and talk about their experience of the UK’s nuclear testing programme. The group also took part in the Remember Together knock-out quiz – with four still standing at the end – and wrote messages for nuclear test veterans.

The UK nuclear tests took place in the 1950s and 60s in Australia and the South Pacific. Most remarkable were the strong connections within the Abbey Centre group to these long ago and far away events.

One of the group, Jack, had travelled extensively in the area during the 1980s. In his message he recalled “fond memories of being with ‘Bill’ who was a test survivor in Tuvalu at Christmas Island”. 

Another participant had a close friend who is a nuclear test veteran, and was very well informed as a result, while a third, married to a Fijian national, thought there was a good chance that her husband knew the veteran featured in the final film, Mr Naikawakawavesi, personally. 

Caroline Gandy-Brown, project manager for the Young at Heart sessions at the Abbey Centre, said, “The presentation was amazing and was well received by all in the group – we were amazed how many people in the group had an association with this topic.”

Watching the films sparked a rich vein of discussion and the Big Ideas team is looking forward to more Remember Together events with older people’s networks in the coming weeks.

Big Ideas would like to thank Young at Heart at The Abbey Centre, Westminster, and The Office for Veterans’ Affairs for making this event possible.