FOR one Winchester couple visiting war memorials is more than just a hobby, it is their way of life.

Jenny and Steve Jarvis have been visiting historical sites across Hampshire for nearly 30 years, collecting the names of over 25,000 veterans and entering them into their specially-made database.

Mr Jarvis, 57, a chemistry technician at Peter Symonds College, said it all began when he started collecting war medals after learning that his grandfather, David Smith, served in World War One, and his uncle, Donald Smith, was killed in Italy in 1944.

On collecting a name, the duo then try to find out as much as possible, including their rank, date of death, unit, place of burial and anything else they can.

Whilst sitting in his book-crammed study, with every wall covered in medals, photographs or posters, Mr Jarvis explained how his fascination has become a valuable county record.

“It started with medals, just one or two, because they are all named and that led on to finding out that one of them had been killed or died, and that led on to looking at war memorials.

“Then Hampshire County Council and the records office approached us, and asked if we would put all the information online if they helped us with the website. I taught myself HTML (a form of online code) so that I could make it.”

The couple, of Nelson Road, Highcliffe, have now visited approximately 2,000 memorials, and Mr Jarvis said it is important for future generations that a record is kept.

“I don't think young people appreciate the sacrifice as such. I freely give information because too many people sit on it, whereas it's better to share and help others.

“Recently we have helped Holy Trinity Church (in Upper Brook Street), read the names on their memorial. Sometimes it's very difficult to read them because they have weathered or worn away.”

He also said the database could potentially help other churches to maintain their memorials for the future.

“Sometimes the information on memorials is wrong, such as first names spelt incorrectly, and we can help people find that out. We have to think outside the box.”

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