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Not all those who wander are lost

The second line of J R R Tolkin’s Poem All that is gold doesn’t glitter, both very true when looking at a recent deposit we received. It’s also true that if you are travelling with WVS you won’t be lost.

In July 1942 the Ministry for Homeland Security set up the Volunteer Car Pool (VCP) to address the problems of petrol shortages. Private car owners were encouraged to enrol in the service agreeing to make their car available in an emergency. WVS was asked to be involved in the running of the scheme; by 1944 they were overseeing 570 VCP schemes across Britain. This was then succeeded by the Hospital Car Service (HCS) in 1945 where WVS and the WRVS volunteers took thousands of people to Hospital every year until the Mid1970s when the charity started to run a more diverse scheme called Country Cars (1974/75).

A short time ago we received a set of driver’s records including letters, a log book, monthly summaries, petrol records and journey records for the VCP and HCS. Mrs Bird wandered around the London and Essex Metropolitan areas between 1944 and 1950 collecting those in need of transport and taking them to hospital and many other places. Of course these records don’t glitter but they contain hidden gems such as her records for July and August 1944 when she took evacuees and their escorts from Chingford to stations in London such as Kings Cross and Paddington. Most of these journeys were 30 to 40 mile round trips. Moreover one book shows that WVS’s transport services were not just used for hospital journeys even before 1974. In 1947 and 1948 Mrs Bird took people to an old people’s tea entertainment, collected wool from Tothill Street London (WVS Headquarters) and transported fruit for canning to Portland Place. Occasionally she also delivered Meals on Wheels and clothing to local clothing depots.

If you would like to find out more about the VCP and HCS why not explore our Factsheets on Transport or Hospital Services

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 25 July 2016.

Labels: WVS, Accession, Archive, VCP, Hospital Car Service

Spinach and Beet - Part 19

This week’s diary of a Centre Organiser and recipe come from April 1949.

MONDAY

Too touched when old Mrs Stoutley pressed a small package into my hand when she came to collect her “Cash and Carry” meals today. “That’s all right, dear,” she said as I took it protestingly. “I’ve just had a parcel from Australia. You give us what we need, I told my husband, and it’s only right we should give you what you need when we can.” Thanked her warmly... and only discovered after she had gone that she had given me a CAKE OF SOAP ! How do I take her remark now?

TUESDAY

Stopped on my way to the office by an elderly man who pointed a quivering finger at my badge. “What crown is that on top of it?” he demanded. “No - I’m not disputing that W.V.S. has earned the right to wear a crown, but it’s not like any other I’ve ever seen. It hasn’t the blue emeralds of the Post Office - and it’s different from the one worn by the Coastguards...” My - frivolous? - suggestion that perhaps our crown is “a female of the species” was treated with contempt. "You ought to know about your own badge,” he grumbled, and I promised to make enquiries. (N.B. Shall enjoy being “superior” - when I know the answer!)

WEDNESDAY

Miss G. came in rather thoughtfully this afternoon from a Hospital Car Service journey. The small boy she had taken for treatment from an extremely dirty looking house had been worried about something he had learned at school that morning. “Teacher said we’re all made from dust,” he said. “Is it true?” Miss G. had felt it best to agree. “Then there’s an awful lot of people going to be born in our house,” he had declared, looking rather scared, “and most of ’em under my bed !” Miss G. admitted she had felt quite inadequate to deal with the situation.

Recipe

Here is a good recipe for individual Simnel cakes

4 oz margarine
3/4 lb mixed fruit
4 oz castor sugar
2 oz mixed peel
2 eggs
1/4 tsp spice
4 oz flour
Grated rind of half a lemon
Pinch of bicarbonate of soda
Almond essence
Salt

Beat the butter and sugar to a cream. Add eggs gradually and beat until the mixture is stiff and uniform. Stir in flour, soda and salt sifted together. Add fruit, chopped peel, spice, grated lemon rind and a few drops of almond essence. Mix well, then place in greased patty tins. Cook in good oven for 35 minutes.

Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 00:00 Tuesday, 05 April 2016.

Labels: WVS, Spinach and Beet, Simnel Cakes, Hospital car Service, Soap, Post office, Coastguard, Cash and Carry, Meals on Wheels , Diary

Reports from everywhere - July 1946

Welwyn Garden City WVS were called in by the SSAFA Secretary to help with clothing for a GI bride with a child of two, sailing at very short notice, whose husband had sent her no cash for expenses.

Kingsbridge RA, Devon, are in close touch with housing progress in their area, as three WVS members are on the Rural District Council and four are co-opted on the Housing and Public Health Committees.

Keynsham UD WVS, Somerset, have been running an infant welfare centre continuously since 1939, the administration in the hands of WVS, and doctors and district nurse acting in an advisory capacity.

Bristol WVS are taking a large part in the work of welfare clinics and the hospitals, are giving useful help and advice in rehabilitation cases, assisting with broadcasts on diphtheria immunisation, reading to the blind, minding children whilst their parents are out and preparing materials and teaching embroidery to the wounded in hospital.

Portsmouth CB WVS were asked by the Naval Welfare Department and by SSAFA to undertake all their accommodation problems, which has kept them very busy. The return of ships from the Far East has also meant that relatives from all parts of the country have been writing asking for WVS help in booking accommodation for them.

Burgess Hill’s 25 Dutch children are now back in Holland, and WVS are receiving glowing accounts from their parents of the change in the children and the benefits they have received from their stay in England. Firm friendships have been formed and warm invitations received for the hostesses and their children to visit Holland later on.

Bishops Stortford WVS have made 58 Hospital Car Service journeys during the month for regular treatment cases, and have also been driving at the request of the Herts County Medical Department. From their “mixed bag” of enquiries come the following : The vicar sought a convalescent home for one of his parishioners ; a dentist required rooms for his nurse receptionist ; and a grandmother asked for the loan of a cot as her grandchild was coming on a short visit.

Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 20 July 2015.

Labels: Kingsbridge, Keynsham, Bristol, Portsmouth, Burgess Hill, Welwyn Garden City, Bishops Stortford, Hospital Car Service, Dutch children, SSAFA, naval welfare, Welfare Clinics, GI bride