|Article from Northants Telegrah 22 September 2008|
Being born and bred in Burton Latimer, it was bound to be the case that John Meads would be interested in the town’s history. Growing up surrounded by his family’s local dairy business, John, 77, soon got to know a lot of people in the community.
He said: ”I used to help deliver the products and you would know of people, even if it was just through association.
“Then I was a councillor for 29 years so I was involved in the community again but it wasn’t until my eldest son had a family history project that my wife Janet and I started to get involved in the research side of things.”
John and Janet first focused on their family history but after hitting a “wall” in their family tree, they decided to move on to social and local history.
John joined the Burton Latimer Heritage Society over 40 years ago and since then he has helped research many different aspects of the towns’ history. [Correction to reporter's mistake - should have read "helped start the Burton Latimer Heritage Society eight years ago" - perhaps should have been : "joined Northants Family History Society 40 years ago" - JM]
He said: “I’ve helped create a database of over 40,000 names and events such as births, deaths and marriages, census entries and so on.
“I also helped the society create the heritage museum, which is very important because it’s something that will remain after we’re gone and will help younger generations remember what has gone on before and that’s what we all care about.”
There isn’t a week that goes by without someone calling or emailing John for help with some part of the town’s history, but that’s the bit that he enjoys the most.
He said: “I basically just get a lot of satisfaction from doing the research but one of the best things is when I can help people with a piece of information that they would never have found on their own.
Whether it’s putting a name to a photo, finding out who used to live in their house or giving them a snippet of information about a great-grandparent, it’s fantastic because that piece of information can help them build a picture in their mind about that person.”
Burton Latimer, like many other places of its kind, has changed over the years and a lot of new people have moved into the town, but that to John makes it even more important to keep the history of the town alive in people’s memories.
He said "It would be so easy to be a stranger in this town but if we can encourage people to remember what has gone before them then our job is done.
"I liked history at school but it was all about kings, queens, parliaments and wars, which didn't really interest me because I've always felt history should be about the ordinary people, because they are what made it.
"So by making lists of everything, building databases and putting names to photos, I'm hopefully helping keep Burton people's memories alive."