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Liverpool during the Blitz, Ancestry unveils poignant new art collection created to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Blitz

TO mark 80 years since the start of The Blitz, Ancestry, the global leader in family history, has commissioned a new collection of art depicting life during The Blitz and World War II.

The 80 pieces of art, available to view on Ancestry.Co.UK/Blitz80, are based on real life stories discovered in wartime records available on Ancestry and aim to bring to life the extraordinary 'everyday' lives and efforts of people all over the country and the British spirit that shone through whilst they lived and served on the home front.

The new collection was inspired by the War Artists Advisory Committee (WAAC) which was established at the outbreak of World War II by the UK Government's Ministry of Information. Its aim was to compile a comprehensive artistic record of Britain throughout the war and by the end of World War II, included 5,570 pieces. The original records are held at The National Archives, in Kew.

Russell James, Family History expert at Ancestry, said:- "As we mark the 80th anniversary of the start of The Blitz, a time of tragedy but also a time that truly demonstrated the great British spirit we wanted to pay tribute to the original War Artists Advisory Committee by adding our own update to this important collection of works with 80 new pieces, each inspired by everyday life during The Blitz and throughout World War II. By preserving these stories in a new and engaging way, we hope we can shine a light on what our families went through during that time and encourage people now to discover their connection to The Blitz and World War II.''

Using artistic mediums ranging from digital illustration to oil painting, 33 artists from around the UK have created contemporary interpretations of records and images. In her artwork Liverpool artist, Katie Pinch showcases the story of two local wardens who went from incident to incident rescuing trapped persons during a heavy air raid in May 1941. Meanwhile, Sophie Green also from Liverpool produced a number of works inspired by the city's air raids. This includes the portrayal of a 17 year old messenger who displayed magnificent courage making several journeys through fire and bombs as well as of Gertrude Riding, a matron at Mill Road Infirmary who received air-raid casualties on a large scale and showed remarkable devotion to duty throughout.

Dr William Butler, Head of Military Records at The National Archives, said:- "This fascinating Ancestry project showcases how our historical collections can inspire in such a variety of ways, and has provided such an impressive breadth of responses. The Civilian Gallantry Award records are a treasure trove of stories, highlighting the incredible and often dangerous work carried out by individuals working as air raid wardens, first aid workers, firewatchers and messengers during the Second World War. They provide vivid details of the exploits and heroic deeds of civilians fighting a war away from the battlefields and highlight the sacrifices so often made on the home front."

Ancestry.Co.UK hosts the UK's largest online collection of family history documents with more than two billion UK records, helping people uncover the untold personal stories of World War II; from the home front to the front line. The new collection of World War II artwork also comes as Ancestry launches StoryScout®, a new feature which allows users to create an engaging narrative of their ancestor's life.

For more information about Ancestry's Blitz art collection and StoryScout, visit:- Ancestry.Co.UK/Blitz80. To access Ancestry's records and discover untold personal stories from World War II, visit:- Ancestry.Co.UK. Keep up to date on social media by following #Blitz80.

DIY SOS star 'Billy' helps keep Southport DIY enthusiasts safe

BELOVED TV electrician Billy Byrne is helping people in Southport stay safe with a series of videos sharing his top tips for people turning to DIY at home and in the garden. The 65 year old, famous for his role on BBC television show DIY SOS, is working with SP Energy Networks to promote good practice when it comes to working near electricity . The number of safety incidents involving electricity  around homes and gardens has risen steeply since last year, with more people digging out the toolbox or paintbrush during lockdown.

Figures from SP Energy Networks show a surge in DIY garden projects led to a 24% increase in reported incidents across the UK; rising from 126 incidents from January to June 2019 to 161 incidents, in the same period this year. This spike in domestic incidents involved activities such as digging up trees, cutting high hedges, hammering in fences and painting over electricity  service positions.

Billy, who has witnessed his fair share of electrical disasters over the years, has worked with SP Energy Networks to develop straight talking advice to ensure people stay safe while working in the garden, in the home and near overhead power lines, which people can often forget about when they take on DIY.

Billy, who has starred on DIY SOS since 1999, said:- "Most of us have spent more time at home over the last 6 months than we have in the last 6 years. For me, it was a chance to tackle the odd jobs I've been putting off. But before you get cracking, you need to stop and think about the risks. The guys at SP Energy Networks really are a go to source for easy to understand advice that anyone thinking of undertaking DIY should check out before they get started. It's better to be safe than sorry."

Billy's top tips are:-

Electricity  cables and power lines should always be treated as live. Check for overhead power lines when working with ladders, scaffold or when pruning and cutting trees in your garden.

Shut off the power. If you're doing any work near electrical wiring or power supplies, where possible, shut off the power in your fuse box and use battery powered tools.

Use a cable detector to locate cables in your walls. A common DIY mistake is accidentally drilling, nailing or screwing things into cables hidden inside your walls.

Don't assume that overhead lines on wooden poles are telephone wires; look for the:- "Danger of Death" sign as this tells you it's an electricity  pole. Touching anything with power lines can be deadly so remember you don't have to make direct contact with an overhead line to receive a shock as electricity  can jump gaps.

Underground cables don't run in straight lines, they can change direction and depth. If your electricity  is supplied by an underground cable and you're planning digging work in your garden, please proceed with caution. If you are planning deep excavations, network plans are available from SP Energy Networks by calling:- 0141 614 0085.

In an emergency, dial:- 999 and let the emergency services know your location and that live electricity  is involved. This can save lives.

SP Energy Networks' safety campaign is designed to get people thinking about the dangers of electricity  before attempting DIY. Guy Jefferson, Customer Service Director at SP Energy Networks, said:- "Since the start of the year, there has been a sharp rise in safety incidents as people do more DIY around their homes and gardens where there are lots of hidden electrical hazards. It's important to consider these risks and make sure you follow the advice Billy outlines in the videos to ensure you can carry out projects as safely as possible. We want to help people plan ahead so we've put together some top tips to avoid some of the mishaps Billy has witnessed over the years."

SP Energy Networks provides free safety advice on its website for those who are planning to do work near power lines and underground cables. For further information please visit:- SPEnergyNetworks.Co.UK.

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