Pat Majoram secretary of Belper History Group tells the story of the hidden film:
“The Working Group which cares for the archive material held at Red Cross Branch Headquarters, was delighted to be contacted by Keith Fisher who said he had four reels of ciné film which he had discovered when clearing out his late mother’s attic, one of which seemed to relate to the Derbyshire Red Cross Flying Column of which his mother (Mrs Ellen Fisher – ‘Nellie’) was a founder member.”
“The film, possibly circa. 1943 demonstrates the Flying Column in action at a blood donor session held outdoors (possibly in or around Ashbourne) in the somewhat primitive conditions prevailing during the war. Notably, troops based at home were brought in to help the action, including American ones.”
“As the Flying Column only operated for four years, it is a remarkable and probably unique visual record, and a rare survival indeed.” said Pat.
Pat explains further: “The films were entrusted to MACE (Media Archive for Central England) for restoration, storage and reproduction, and we now have a fine DVD as a usable record for showing to interested audiences. Our original donor also has a moving image of his mother at work during the Second World War.”
“During our researches, we had come across references to this volunteer emergency unit which was equipped to attend the scene of bombing raids during the Second World War and to give support to the hospitals and ambulance service, particularly with wounded servicemen. “
“This unit also functioned as a mobile blood collection team between 1942 and 1945, and was instrumental in recruiting a great number of blood donors around the county. After the war, the vehicles were disposed of, but the Red Cross personnel continued for many years after that, making up the teams which tended the donors as they gave blood for the National Blood Transfusion Service.”
“The other three films show the staff of the ARP (Air Raid Precautions), Civil Defence, Red Cross and St. John’s Ambulance at the Littleover First Aid Post in Derby performing first aid, anti-gas and rescue procedures, probably as practice for competition work judging by the trophies displayed to the camera.”