MAY 2007

at the 

Planned Environment Therapy Trust


During the late May bank Holiday weekend a group of us met at PETT once again to try to give support to Craig Fees by helping with the Wennington archive material. There were five of us on Friday evening, Tom James, who had organised the weekend, myself, Sam, Andrew Ridley, and Andy Peers. Work commenced on Saturday morning, Sam and Tom busy re-photographing black and white photos, which had been done before but had nasty reflections. Armed with a piece of non-reflective glass they thought the problem solved – but not so – light from windows and doors was still causing shadows. Finally, a very frustrated Sam hit on the idea of using his own digital camera and setting everything up outdoors where the sky was flat and grey with impending rain. Thankfully Craig wasn’t around to see this; he is very particular that archive material stays in the archive room and woe betide anyone who takes food, drink, or dogs into the inner sanctum. Once photographed the images were down loaded onto the computer. Andrew and Andy spent considerable time reading through documents to see if they were relevant or suitable for scanning for the website. These were mainly Kenneth’s Sunday evening meeting talks, and other writing about educational matters of the day.

Late Saturday afternoon Katy Pentith plus friend, and John and Denise Pentith arrived just as we were wondering if the limited food contributions already brought would make another meal. John and Denise immediately set-to cooking mixed vegetable stir fry and chick pea salad, while Andy got his barbecue going, cooking, sausages, spare ribs, chicken and his own delicious home made beef burgers, undeterred by the onset of rain. The meal plus wine was a banquet.


On Sunday Tom and Sam continued photographing and scanning, Andrew scanned in Roger Gerhardt’s slides for the website, Andy, Katy, and John continued reading through documents, removing rusty staples and paper clips, replacing them with non rustable brass clips and then passing to me for scanning. It was a real hive of industry and cooperation. Craig flitted in and out (generously spending time away from his family during a bank holiday weekend) to help us come to grips with the technology. One problem was that many interesting documents were on foolscap paper but the scanner was A4 size. On asking Craig if there was any way of reducing the originals his response was “Yes – put then in a very hot wash”! (Groan)

The day was rounded off with a superb pasta meal cooked by Katy and John. It was interesting to see sister and brother working so well together in the kitchen!


One of the aims of the weekend was to record our experience of Wennington, as part of an oral history project, for Craig to use on Radio Therapeutic Community International and to add clout when applying for charitable funds for PETT. I think we all felt either a bit inhibited, or worried that we would just ‘rabbit on’ without any structure. Craig was certain we could do it without his guidance so we did it as a group and asked Denise, a non -Wenningtonian social worker, to draw out from us what she thought to be interesting and of value to educationalists/social workers/ or just ‘joe public’. She was brilliant – allowing us to talk freely but occasionally bringing us back to the point or asking us to explain or expand on things alien to anyone else. During Sunday and Monday we did three 45 minute recordings. Craig also wanted us to do individual recordings of why we went to Wennington, how it had affected our life, and what it means to us now but as most of us were backward in coming forward Craig grabbed John and gave him the third degree.


As well as all the work it was a great social occasion with lots of chat, alcohol and late nights for some who didn’t retire until dawn but were amazingly fresh and alert by 10a.m.!! Altogether it was a most worthwhile weekend and thanks go to all those who contributed to make it so successful.


We are intending to spend more time at PETT but not at a weekend – we are very much aware that Craig has given a considerable amount of time, which he should have spent with his family. We aim to go during the week so if you are able to, if you have computer skills, if you are interested in the creation of an oral history, if you are interested in the future of education/social work/etc and would like to sift through documents for interesting or relevant material, let me know and you’ll be added to the list. It would be particularly useful to have people from the 1940’s and early 1960’s to identify and date photos

Pat Mitchell


Craig’s response to the weekend:

Dear Sam, Pat, and Tom, in various and changing orders,

Thank you and all the Wennington people who came for all of the help and support over the weekend. I've guesstimated something like 131 volunteer hours overall (do you think that reasonably accurate?), during which 917 photographs and slides were digitised (that seems to me a lot), and seven documents chosen and scanned (involving 67 scan images). Again, that strikes me as a lot. Three group recording sessions, which I have put on computer, listened to, and am looking forward to editing, and one individual oral history interview. And we have set in motion a script for the film, identified some gaps in the archival record, and filled the place with life.

I have one of the recordings which you all made, almost ready to go up on RadioTC International.,

Still a lot to do. Best wishes , Craig


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