Heritage Bulletin blog
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Manchester County Borough made over 1,000 meals parcels for Meals on Wheels recipients and 350 boxes of toys (some of these boxes were for families with eight, nine and ten children), A Christmas party was given in Manchester in the New Year for 400 children which WVS was asked to plan and operate. There was a parcel for each child in addition to the above boxes.
When Peterculter won a prize in the Blanket Competition they were thrilled and on its return to them it was put on show. Yet they felt that they wanted to use it for a special purpose so at Christmas it was included in a parcel sent to a refugee priest in South Germany where it could bring warmth, be admired and appreciated.
We are feeding a maximum of 22 at our lunch club in Cheshire, and more would like to come. As we don’t like to refuse people in winter we hope to manage the extra few. Our Club members are most appreciative, which is nice. One old lady, however, is quite convinced that mince gives her asthma; and an old man bags his wife’s dinner if he thinks her helping is larger than his, and says he would not mind helping us if he were paid as much as we are! Many shops are very kind in knocking the Shillings off our bills.
One of the members at the St. Pancras WVS centre has a young schoolgirl daughter who is very interested in the WVS Club for the Elderly at Chalk Farm, where her mother is a leader. Margot persuaded her little friends to sing carols to neighbours at Christmas time and give any proceeds resulting from their efforts to the club to provide a Christmas Treat. It was a proud moment for them to come to the club to sing Christmas carols in costume to the old people and to hand over a donation of £5 14s.
This being our first blog after Valentine’s Day we thought we'd try a romantic theme and bring you a story from February 1945 about love and the way in which WVS brought service men and their wives together in the final months of the war.
“Of all the many tasks that WVS members have undertaken, surely this plan for the delivery of flowers from men in the Services to their families and friends at home is the most imaginative example. A really lovely, fairy godmother-ish kind of idea - in the true WVS spirit.
I was asked if I would collect from the florists some flowers and deliver them at a certain house on a certain day. It sounded simple and attractive, but I did not realise how greatly I should enjoy my errand until I returned to the WVS office to report that my job was done.
It was a beautiful morning, the sun shining brightly on this middle-aged WVS member as she sallied out of the flower shop, balancing a huge bunch of daffodils on her arm and feeling all young and sprightly and romantic. I literally trotted along as my feet tried to keep in step with my thoughts (these were already at the door and handing in the flowers with a smile and a few well-chosen words!). I felt a cross between Mercury and a bringer of peace terms.
Those daffies smelled of spring! What an exciting, heart-stirring mission I was engaged upon. No bees buzzed (after all it was February), but birds sang - at least sparrows cheerfully chirped from the house-tops - and everything seemed to shine; everywhere was full of brightness and everyone who directed me (for I was not familiar with this part of the town) was so kind and helpful - a truly golden day.
Even the little house seemed to gleam and beam at me as I rang the bell. At the sight of the young woman with the baby in her arms all my pre-arranged speech of explanation vanished. “Are you Mrs Dash?” I asked; “for if you are, these are for you.” The baby stretched out fat hands towards the daffodils. “Please hold him, Miss, while I open the letter. Oh, the flowers are beautiful... they’re from Ken, my husband, he’s in Holland... we’ve been married three years... and - and - do come in, Miss, and have a cup of cocoa - it won’t take a minute to make.”
I sat with the cherubic baby on my knee. He gurgled as I played with his bare pink toes as though we were life-long friends. But I did wish that Ken could have seen the look on his wife’s face, as solemnly we raised our cups of steaming cocoa and drank our toast to Ken and to the early return of all the lads and lassies serving in the Forces.
So I left her, after she had pinned one of her precious daffies on my coat, and as I waved to her from the corner of the street and fat Billy raised a plump hand to me I thought: “This new task of ‘saying it with flowers’ is not a task at all, but is in the nature of a reward for all the hard, tiring, messy and often disappointing jobs that WVS have done in the past.”
Now this is romance.”
This month’s extract from the diary of a centre organiser and recipe comes from the WVS Bulletin, March 1950:
We were a little surprised when Mrs. Forth-Wright asked to be enrolled as a W.V.S. Godmother: she did not seem as though she would be particularly sympathetic with children. However, she “took on” another member’s godchild yesterday (during the member’s illness) and it seems to have been a great success. “The little boy spent such a long time looking out of the window in the evening - it was a glorious sunset, wasn’t it? - that I asked him what he was up to, "she told us to-day.“ And do you know what he answered?” She paused expectantly. “He said:
'I’m watching God put away the day.’ ”
There have been unusually large sales of saccharine from our Hospital Trolley Shop lately, and to-day one of the helpers said jokingly to one of the old ladies : “Another packet! You had one last week. However many saccharines do you put in each cup of tea?” “ Eh ?”, demanded the old lady. The member repeated the question in louder tones and the old lady chuckled. “Tea ?” she said. “I don’t put ’em in my tea, I suck ’em!” Matron, hastily consulted, was reassuring as to the harmlessness of this - surely most unusual ? - practice.
The proverbially exaggerated “fishing” stories cannot, surely, compare with the wartime tales exchanged by W.V.S. members when they get together nearly five years after the cessation of hostilities they are still at it ! “It was our job to empty the dustbins,” one member told another. “You’d be astonished if you knew what people throw away - even in wartime. We made nearly £200 from the sale of things we salvaged.” “Not very pleasant work.” another member suggested. “Well, no,” the first one had to admit. “But even the maggots in the old bones came in useful: small boys used to ask us for them... they used them as fishing bait !
1 egg 1 teaspoon baking pdr.
1/4 lb. flour 1/4 lb. cornflour 2 oz. margarine 1 tablespoon sugar
Sieve dry ingredients. Rub in margarine, then work in egg yolk to make stiff dough. Roll out to flan tin size and bake in a good oven. Cool.
Fill with cooked forced rhubarb, thickened with arrowroot and sweetened to taste - cooled. Then beat up the white of egg stiffly, fold in 1 tablespoon caster sugar. Spread this over the rhubarb and finally sprinkle with sugar. Brown very lightly in a cool oven.
This week a story from February 1955.
TRAVEL may sound odd in conjunction with a hospital trolley shop, but those who manoeuvre our trolley at a particular hospital will agree that is the only word for it. The journey by van, lift, or sheer mountaineering on foot with the help of a kindly porter, leaves no doubt as to its authenticity, or the trolley’s similarity to the original ending of the title.
Still, however mulish its back wheels can become, it plays its part sturdily in all circumstances. In addition, the noise it can make in certain corridors is valuable in warning the patients of our approach, thereby saving time by them having their money ready. We were joyfully greeted on one occasion with “Oh good, here’s the trolley shop”, so we venture to hope that the noise is not too bad. Seriously, it is a rewarding task, and a privilege, to be allowed to bring a little of the outside world to those confined to hospital; whether they are the sick, or the bright and helpful staff who with every courtesy make us feel welcome.
The patients love to have a chat and the opportunity to buy something for those at home. The anticipation in awaiting the happy surprise their relatives and friends receive on being given these unexpected gifts is, I am sure, a tonic to the patients. A man’s wife has a birthday coming, a mother can send sweets to the children, the things they thought would have to wait until they were well again are brought to them on the trolley shop. The nurses too are not forgotten. A patient shows appreciation by asking a nurse to choose something for herself: “ She has been so good,” they say.
So the shop-on-wheels is not just something being pushed round to sell things; it is a means by which we learn to understand the needs of others in many ways.
There are frantic moments when one is asked for the unusual, and the empties are forgotten in the reckoning up, but the thought of the dainty tea waiting in the canteen, served with such kindness, fortifies us.
Thus ends another day of travel and we look forward to the next. A mixed pleasure, for sometimes we find friends not there, but we hope it means their recovery and re-union with family and home.