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Reports from Everywhere - August 1954

Continuing our monthly series, here are some reports from WVS centers 60 years ago this month.

Sevenoaks RD A member was horrified to find a mother of four utterly work out. The eldest child, epileptic, was uncontrollable. After representations to the authorities by WVS the child was removed and the mother had a holiday while the County Council took charge of the others. Now she is a different woman.

Worthing B Two WVS husbands gave up a Saturday to packing, moving and stacking about a ton of clothing, and our local NSPCC inspector offered voluntarily to give up a day to help us when we move premises.

Leeds A member attending training at Headquarters stayed with her wartime evacuee in Bromley – An example of a happy outcome of successful evacuation. She remembers how she came to accept her evacuees and helped them in many different kinds of trouble.

Epsom & Ewell Work in hospitals continues successfully. One Sister said, “You can make the old men do much more than we can. What is it you have that we haven’t?” We want to guard against patients becoming tired of doing the same things, and a new member, a handicraft expert, has promised to show our workers several new “Occupations”.

Haltemprice (North) Efforts were unsuccessful in finding a job for a young man handicapped by a deformed arm and little education, so a WVS member is instructing him in English and arithmetic for one-hour every evening. 

Marple The police telephoned to ask if we could equip a family of four with clothes, their wooden bungalow having been burnt out the previous evening and nothing saved. We contacted Houldsworth Street, Manchester, immediately and asked a member to run into town. She was back at 12:30, besides the clothing there were blankets and linen – all much appreciated.

Posted by Matthew Mcmurray at 09:00 Monday, 25 August 2014.

Spinach and Beet - Part 4

This month’s extract from the diary of a Centre Organiser comes from the WVS Bulletin, October 1951:

Tuesday

It was the Godmother's turn to be invited to a party at the local Orphanage today - and at first it was quite the most solemn and “sticky” occasion I have ever attended! Cups of tea and cakes were handed round by grave-faced young people, and it was almost impossible to get a smile out of them in response to our well-meant attempts at humour.

Presently, however, we noticed a lightening of the grim atmosphere when a small boy, Ernie, started to conduct groups of Godmothers and orphans out into the garden—from which they returned with an “I-know-something-you-don’t-know” air of barely-concealed triumph. At last Ernie approached me and asked, in a hoarse Cockney whisper, whether I would like to come and see “my water-otter.” I gladly agreed, and several of us accompanied him (somewhat incredulously) to the small stream which runs through a corner of the grounds. There, nearly hidden amongst the weeds, was an old tin kettle. “It’s a water ’otter,” Ernie explained delightedly, “ it ’ots water! ” Bless him!

His joke started us off on a lighter note and we returned to the Home to exchange others about ‘cherry coloured cats with rose-coloured paws,’ to the joy of the Orphans who had not heard these hoary jests before.

Recipe – From the WVS Bulletin, May 1950

Meringue Cake.

  • 1 1/4 cups plain flour 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder 2 egg yolks, unbeaten 1/2 teaspoon salt 7 tablespoons milk
  • 4 tablesp. butter or margarine 1/2 teaspoon vanilla For Meringue top—2 whites of eggs ; 1/2 cup sugar.

Sift flour once, then measure, add baking powder and salt, sift together three times. Cream butter thoroughly, add sugar gradually, and cream together until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Add flavouring. Put into greased baking tin. Beat egg whites until foamy throughout, add sugar, 2 tablesp. at a time, beating after each addition until sugar is thoroughly blended. Continue beating until mixture stands in peaks. Spread over the cake batter. Bake in a moderate oven for about 50 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes to cool, then remove carefully from cake tin.

To decorate for a party : Trim 3 half egg shells neatly with scissors, vandyking edges. Fix to top of cake with a little icing, and fill with fragments of spring blossoms—one primroses, one violets and one prunus.

Posted by Matthew McMurray at 00:00 Monday, 18 August 2014.

Would you be able to tell me...?

The days here at the archive are so varied. As volunteers, we get the opportunity to work on and explore so many aspects of the work of the charity; especially since the enquiry service opened in January 2013.

This has enabled anyone who is interested in exploring the rich history of WVS/WRVS to ask questions; giving us the opportunity to delve into the boxes and files and discover so much about the organisation, its history and its dedicated volunteers.

In the last year and a half we have received over 350 enquiries asking us to provide information on subjects ranging from family history to helping with local events and media projects.

We’ve provided uniforms for the BBC’s 'Call the Midwife' Christmas special; helped a local museum research and re-produce some camouflage netting (a task which WVS volunteers would have undertaken during the Second World War).

We were also able to locate the membership card of a member who volunteered during the Second World War, providing her family with a better understanding of her valuable work as a volunteer (Probably a 1 in 1,000 chance!)

One enquiry I particularly enjoyed researching was finding material for a lady who wanted to throw a party to celebrate a volunteer who had provided over 50 years of service for Books on Wheels. I was able to find narrative reports, posters, leaflets and even a car card which will be used to create a display - a lovely way for the volunteer to reminisce about her time with the charity.

So why not ask a question and find out what we can uncover for you?

Posted by Hannah Tinkler at 00:00 Monday, 04 August 2014.