When Birmingham Irish Heritage Group committee member Charlie Leydon sadly died in February, chair Mike Walsh was keen for there to be a written tribute to him in two publications popular with group members – The Harp newspaper and the Digbeth is Good community website, which publishes monthly reports of the group’s events and notices.
Mike wrote a very touching piece about his friend – ‘A Bold Spirit Departs’, detailing Charlie’s great contribution to the group, the friendships he’d formed, his strong family ties and his love of Ireland. He sent it on to me with some photos asking that I publish it, which I was more than happy to do.
There are many other examples of tributes to key community figures on hyperlocal websites. When Kings Cross resident and campaigner Gloria Johnson passed away recently, William Perrin wrote a tribute about her unwavering commitment to the community On Kings Cross Environments. William ended the post by inviting readers to share their memories of Gloria, which many did with fond stories about a woman who was ‘Feisty, direct, perceptive, determined and warm.’
As an online space for community news and stories, a hyperlocal website is the perfect place for remembering local figures who have passed away and how they have helped the neighbourhood. Perhaps there is a special person who has left a lasting legacy in the area? As a community website that shares local history and heritage, Talk About Wolverton’s post about ‘lorry driver, poet, painter and community artist’ Bill Billings was inevitable – he created one of Milton Keynes’ most famous icons, the Dinosaur at Peartree Bridge and helped the children of Radcliffe School create a concrete sculpture for the Secret Garden in Wolverton, which still stands there today.
The Kington Blackboard has gone one step further with creating a space for tributes to local people with a Social Announcements page for ‘local births, graduations, marriages and other life milestones in Kington’. Might something like this be suitable for your community website, as a category if not a dedicated page?
Think about how you can use your community website not just for local news, notices and events but also as a space where local people can share their achievements, celebrations and memories of those who are no longer around.