The group developed out of a University of Southampton extra-mural course tutored by Jack Parsons, then Deputy Education Officer for Bournemouth. He believed children’s education, especially environmental studies, should be based on their own local area. Encouraged by the enthusiasm of his students, mainly teachers, he and his wife Nora formed the Bournemouth Local Studies Group. Members carried out research which formed the basis of talks and booklets, published with the help of the Local Council.
In 1972, the Group became fully independent of Council support with Jack and Nora becoming its Presidents. A separate committee was set up, called the Bournemouth Local Studies Publications – and writing and publishing on the local area became more professional. About this time the Group initiated an autumn session of talks of general interest, beyond the confines of the local area.
In 2004 the publishing of booklets ceased and as Jack had died some years earlier, the Group decided to use the accumulated funds to commemorate his outstanding work. With an additional generous contribution from his widow, Nora, the Group handed over a total of £11,000 to Bournemouth University to fund the annual Jack Parsons Memorial Prize. This would be awarded for the best dissertation on a local subject by a student graduating from the (now) School of Applied Sciences.
Recently the Group reviewed its activities in the light of developments over the years. In 2012 we celebrated forty years of continuous service. In view of the changed nature of the group in recent years – the ending of the research, writing and publishing activities and the increasing success of the Autumn session of talks on wider themes – the members voted to change the name to Bournemouth and Beyond Discovery Group. The Group continues to flourish with an increasing membership.