Volunteer interviews Harry Mercer, or is that Harry interviewing the interviewer?
We’re lucky to have some very good friends and supporters of Remembering the Past’s work, none more so than Harry Mercer, or Harold Knight Mercer, to give him his full name. More people would know him as ‘The Hoover Man’ from his time running a successful business from his shop in West Percy Street.
Now in his mid nineties, Harry has been busy recently with two special memory collection projects. He has just finished being interviewed for the ‘NHS@70: The Story of Our Lives’ project. This national initiative is recording stories from people who worked and were cared for by the NHS since its creation in 1948 to create a Digital Archive of NHS history. Project lead for the North East Dr Peter Mitchell said that “it was a rare privilege to be able to talk Harry and share his company”. Peter loved hearing Harry’s stories about driving the passenger buggy around Rake Lane hospital (a job he still has).
Alongside of this the work Harry has been doing with Discover North Tyneside came to an end. With the help of Ruth Walton of North Tyneside Library Service he has been contributing his life story to their archive. He’s been delighted with the end result and honoured to know that a significant part of his family’s life story is now being lodged in the Discover North Tyneside collection and is available to view in North Shields Library.
As well as contributing to Remembering the Past’s memory collection Harry regularly acts as a ‘practice interviewee’ for new volunteers training. Their task is to see how many interesting things they can find out about him in fifteen minutes. Anyone who realises that he flew in Lancaster bombers gets extra brownie points!