The Gleaner
Education

Volunteer keeps memory of Titanic alive at Heritage

Fiona McKellar
Heritage Elementary

Wendy Kell of Godmanchester was 10 years old when she read a book about the Titanic. “And that was it,” she says. “It’s been forever that the Titanic has been in my life.”

Ms. Wendy started at Heritage Elementary School in Huntingdon about 27 years ago as a supervisor on the schoolyard. When she retired, she came right back as a volunteer in the library.

She started doing a presentation on the Titanic about eight years before the start of the pandemic, when volunteers were not able to come and work at the school. This spring was the first time she brought her interesting and educational presentation back to the library since 2020.

“A lot of the students had seen the big Titanic movie, and a lot of kids thought it was all true, and it actually wasn’t. So, I wanted to tell them the real story,” says Ms. Wendy. “She was the most beautiful ship in the world at the time. And for me, she still is.”

“She did her best to stay afloat as long as she could for the people that she saved. But come 2:20 in the morning, her strength just ran out, and down she went.”

 

Wendy Kell introduced the students in Kindergarten at Heritage Elementary School to the true story of the Titanic during her presentation in April PHOTO Heritage Elementary School

 

Her presentation includes many artifacts including items from her own collection, such as a piece of concrete from the Titanic’s birthplace in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the letters she has saved from her friend, Millvina Dean, the last survivor of the Titanic. Dean was two-months old when she boarded the Titanic with her parents and brother. She was also the youngest passenger on the ship. She passed away in 2009.

“She was a good friend of mine,” says Ms. Wendy. “I met her a few times, and she was very funny,” she adds, explaining that Dean was just a baby so the only thing she knew about the Titanic was what people or her family told her.

Ms. Wendy does not go to Titanic exhibits because most of them have artifacts that have been taken from the seabed. “For me, the Titanic is a graveyard, and people have no business going down there and picking up this and picking up that!” she exclaims, noting that even a pair of shoes have been exhibited in the past.

She is very happy to have reintroduced her presentation to the students. “I feel very grateful to be back here,” she says.

“I don’t think that she [the Titanic] should ever be forgotten. And I hope that maybe I have done just one little tiny bit to [preserve her memory] in the school.”

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