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80 years of Royal Voluntary Service

Our history
Founded in 1938 as the nation prepared for war, the Women’s Voluntary Services galvanised over a million women to volunteer to support on the home front.

From evacuating children to running air raid precautions, the ‘women in green’ were central to Britain’s defence and resilience.

In the decades that followed, the organisation and its unique philosophy of voluntary service maintained its place at the heart of civic life. It tackled extraordinary social challenges, from building nuclear bunkers, organising holidays for disadvantaged children, delivering Meals on Wheels to running Darby & Joan clubs.

Today its volunteers are still active and helping in hospitals and communities across Great Britain.

In celebration of its 80th anniversary, Royal Voluntary Service, is holding celebratory events across the country throughout the year including:

The gift of time – a remarkable story of voluntary service in Britain

80 years of Royal Voluntary Service

Royal Voluntary Service tells its surprising story through a collection of archive photographs. Exhibited alongside are images of today’s volunteers in action, taken by the celebrity photographer Nicky Johnston.

First exhibited at gallery@oxo on London's South Bank from 31 October to 5 November 2018, we are delighted to have made the exhibition available to view online.

Go to

80th Anniversary Celebration Concert

The finale of our 80th anniversary celebrations will be a special concert for staff, volunteers, supporters and ambassadors taking place on Tuesday 11 December in the beautiful setting of St Paul’s Church in London’s Covent Garden. This event will bring together a variety of exciting musical performances, readings from our special guests and some festive carol singing.

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