This is an open letter to Bletchley Park Trust.
Firstly, can I say that it’s been a pleasure working with you.
I’m writing to formally stand down as a volunteer at Bletchley Park. For those who may be interested, I would like to cite the following reasons:
Not only has there been an intolerable lack of respect for those who worked at Bletchley Park during the Second World War but also:
- Changes to the tour that replace true knowledge of Bletchley Park’s history with a ‘look around the buildings’.
- Lack of effort by BPT to negotiate with TNMoC over joint ticketing.
- Focus on ‘interpretation’ rather than interactivity.
- The future of the Park as a museum and not a place of research and discovery.
- Lack of effort to make displays accessible to the lesser-abled.
- The treatment of volunteers by BPT.
- The hideous gates that create the ‘payzone’.
Although there have been many disagreements over the last few weeks between BPT and TNMoC, resulting in poor publicity for both parties, the fact remains that the Park is now carved into two sections in a way that has no relevance to its history. I simply do not care who decided the gates should be erected, only that they exist and are a scar on this most important place.
The final straw has come in the past 24 hours. Previously, the loss of a significant member of the Bletchley Park veterans was signalled to all volunteers at least by email. I don’t need to tell you that the volunteers are a passionate group who care very deeply for those that came before them. In previous months and years we have been informed of the passing of those who gave so much and saved so many: Mavis Batey; Oliver Lawn; John Herivel et al. Even Tony Sale’s passing was communicated to BPT volunteers in good time.
Over the past few months, indeed years, the communication between the volunteers and BPT has all but collapsed. The Friday updates are welcome, but the sterilisation of all else is unbearable. Yesterday, I was informed by BBC News of the passing of Captain Jerry Roberts MBE. This was quickly followed up by an email from TNMoC to their mailing list and a post on their web site. Dr Sue Black, Dr Brian Cox and several others spread the news via Twitter and Facebook. As the day progressed social media sites were filled with tributes to this great man.
As of now, 20:40 Friday 28th March 2014, I, as a volunteer, have received no formal notification of his passing from BPT. Also, I note that the official Bletchley Park website has no information on this sad event; the homepage is dominated by an advertisement for a fictitious ITV drama (and nothing under the ‘News’ section).
I am incredulous at the apathy of BPT towards the passing of one of Bletchley Park’s greats, and towards the feelings of those who admired him and work to tell his story.
Worst of all, the inaction by BPT management is shockingly disrespectful to one of the great Bletchley Park codebreakers. Jerry Roberts was one of the last of the Testery, the group of people whose decrypts determined the date of D-Day; they played a significant part in saving thousands of lives.
Not a word has been spoken. No ‘thank you’. No acknowledgement.
Even if you have something planned, you owed it to Jerry’s wife, Mei, to note his passing in good time. You have failed.
I am deeply saddened by your actions and can longer be a volunteer of Bletchley Park Trust in good conscience.
(Edited 29th March 14:25. It’s heartening to report that at least two further members of the Testery are still with us)