A SCHOOL is asking for the help of residents as it considers the best way to preserve and display its heritage.

Wolsingham School has a collection of framed photographs of students who gave their lives in the First World War.

The story of the photos, as explained in Anita Atkinson’s book A History of Wolsingham Grammar School, explains how headmaster Mr Backhouse sent a message to the community in 1920 asking if every old student could give a shilling or half a crown to complete a memorial to its Old Boys who had died during the war.

The old students rose to the appeal and sent their donations which allowed for a frame and photographs to be unveiled in the old school hall on March 16, 1922.

Earlier this term, an archivist and archive conservator from the Durham County Record Office inspected the state of the photographs.

It noted that some of the paper was becoming discoloured while some of the photographs were distorted.

The report suggested two options. First, for the school to keep the frame but the photographs be transferred to the county archives where students would be allowed to visit. The photographs would be replaced by digital copies.

Alternatively the school could keep the photographs and attempt to slow down the deterioration.

The photos, along with the memorial oaks, are a war memorial listed with the Imperial War Museum.

Current headteacher, Jonathan Ferstenberg said: “It would be great to keep them in school as they are an important part of our heritage and although we would retain the original frame in school, having the original photos here would add to the connection we feel to them.

"However, we are also aware that the photos would inevitably deteriorate here and we have a responsibility of care for them.”

Mr Ferstenberg is inviting members of the public to view the photographs.

“This is a nice chance for us as a community to come together and consider an issue important to our heritage,” he said. “We know that there are still relatives of these soldiers in our community and they, in particular, may want to join us for this event."

The event will be held on January 24, at 5.30pm.