HOW Pershore jam kept the home fires burning and why an Evesham man was shot at dawn will be among the highlights of a World War One in the Vale event at the Almonry Heritage Centre, Evesham on Thursday, October 16.

Pershore had one of the first Women's Institute branches in the country and during the war members ran pig and rabbit clubs and bottled and preserved the Vale's famous plums and damsons to keep the nation fed when naval blockades threatened to cut off imports and starve out the UK

Visitors to the exhibition, which will be open from 1pm until 7pm, will also discover the sad story of the traumatised Evesham man, shot at dawn for apparent desertion on February 8, 1915 and be able to read his heart-breaking last letter home which his wife had published in the Evesham Journal. Community history groups, artists, local historians and University of Worcester students will be sharing their WWI stories about the Home Front experiences of those who lived in the Evesham Vale. Exhibitors will include Badsey History Society, who will show off some of the letters sent back and forth by Sladden family to their three sons on the Western Front and in Egypt and Girlguiding Worcestershire will share stories of how the county's Girl Guides volunteered to keep things going.

Adrian Gregson, of Worcestershire WW100 project, will also be available to advise local historians and new researchers how to get the best out of the resources in Worcestershire Archives at the Hive.

There will also be war-time eggless sponge cake and tea, performances of wartime music, and a chance to find out about convalescence hospitals, Belgium refugees, fruit growing, German POWs, land girls, child labourers and the daily lives of local families in the Vale. There is also an invitation for the public to bring memorabilia and show it off .

Professor Maggie Andrews, from the University of Worcester and co-investigator of the AHRC: Voices of War & Peace WW1 Engagement Centre, will be speaking. She said: "We hope to encourage a wide range of people to research the history of the Evesham Vale during the First World War . Many of us have some awareness of histories of soldiers in the war, but there are other histories of the war to be told. The housewives, children domestic servants, shopkeepers, farmers and smallholders all have stories which should be heard. Family memories, letters, diaries, photographs, memorabilia and local newspapers will all help to tell their histories.”

Visitors to the event will also receive exclusive updates about a follow-on events, activities, research and exhibitions and we hope take part in shaping these events

Grant development officers from Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund will also be attending. Throughout the afternoon, they will be available to answer questions and provide advice on how to prepare application for funding such as ACE Grants for the Arts or HLF's First World War: Then & Now. For more information and event updates, see