Historic WWII air raid shelter in grounds of Options Applegate House opens to the public

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One of the last-remaining public air raid shelters in Barton upon Humber is set to open this weekend, following an exciting renovation project carried out by a team of local volunteers, staff and residents at Options Applegate House, an ‘Outstanding’ rated adult residential service for people with autism run by Options Autism, a part of Outcomes First Group. Situated on the site grounds of Options Applegate in Holydyke, the underground World War II bunker opens for free public tours during Heritage Open Days 2018, England’s largest festival of history and culture. Options Applegate collaborated with Heritage Open Days, Wilderspin National School and Lions Clubs International to complete this project.

The tours will commence from Sunday 9th September and will give visitors a glimpse of wartime life – complete with authentic 1940s garden and artefacts!

Hidden in the gardens of Options Applegate House, the shelter has been fully restored and visitors will have the chance to experience a trip down into its subtly lit interior and imagine what life was like during an air raid. To add to the atmosphere, wartime relics such as gas masks and whistles have been sourced for display inside, along with historical propaganda posters.

Above ground, Applegate staff, residents and volunteers have been hard at work creating a wartime garden – bringing alive the WWII “Dig for Victory” campaign that urged men and women across the country to grow their own food in times of harsh rationing. Growing and harvesting their own produce has given residents valuable opportunities to learn practical life skills, as well as providing fresh ingredients to use in cooking, helping to develop their independence. Residents will also be involved in running stalls during the Open Days, selling home-grown produce such as carrots, beans and courgettes and handing out ration books to visitors.

Commenting on the project, Luke Stocks, Registered Manager at Options Applegate House, said, “Opening this historic air raid shelter to the public is a huge accomplishment for all involved and has enabled the people we support to make an important contribution to their local community.”

To raise autism awareness and encourage interaction within the community, visitors to the event will also be invited to take part in the ‘Applegate Journey’: small rocks decorated with ‘Options Applegate House’ and a link to the Options Autism Facebook page (www.facebook.com/optionsautism/) will be handed out and spread across communities for others to find. As Luke explains, “The idea is for people to post pictures of the rocks to our Facebook page to show where they have made it to. The people we support are very interested in geographical locations and this is a great way for them to learn about the concept of travel, time and distance.”