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The SHED in Bodmin celebrates its heritage

The SHED, formerly known as the Walker Lines Gymnasium in Normandy Way, recently commemorated its military history with two ceremonies.

Deputy Lieutenant Retired Group Captain M.R. Trace OBE DL MA FRAeS RAF(Ret'd) and Balu Madhvani unveil the wildflower meadow.

The event was attended by the mayor of Bodmin and the Deputy Lieutenant of Cornwall and a gathering of 80 guests representing those who have supported the creation of the SHED in the last 15 years.

Guests were welcomed by Balu Madhvani, the chair of the Trust, who explained why this was such an important day and thanked everyone who had played a part in making it happen. Trustee Allan Foad said that, when it was formed, the Trust had three objectives, the third of which was to preserve the history of the SHED - and that was what the day was about!

In the first ceremony, George Bason, the chairman of the RAF Linguists’ Association (RAFLING), presented the Trust with a blue plaque commemorating the US Army who had occupied the building during the Second World War, the Royal Army Education Corps who were the first post war tenants, and the Joint Services School for Linguists (JSSL) who were the last occupants. The JSSL was once run by the RAF, and the plaque has been fixed in pride of place above the main entrance to the SHED.

In the second ceremony, Group Captain Mike Trace, Deputy Lieutenant of Cornwall, unveiled a tablet donated by Drew’s Memorials in honour of all those who fell in the battle for Normandy in the Second World War. A wild flower garden was then inaugurated along the front of the building with a prayer from Paul Holley, vicar of St Petroc’s church, and guests took turns to sow seeds in the garden while Matthew Harrison played John Williams’ Hymn to the fallen.

Finally, a pub sign was unveiled in front of the bar in the building in honour of Ronnie Marshall, one of the Trust’s biggest benefactors. The unveiling was performed by Sue Carthew a friend of the Marshall family, and Balu emphasised how important Ronnie’s contribution was to the creation of the SHED. Guests then retired to Ronnie’s Bar for drinks and light refreshments.

It is thought that the SHED is the only Second World War building in Cornwall still being used for its original purpose. After the event, Balu Madhvani felt satisfied it was a job well done. He said: “The past will not be forgotten.”

Pictures by Robert Dawson and Leonard Reid of Bodmin & District Camera Club


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