Heritage Bulletin blog
The Heritage Bulletin Blog ran from July 2012 to January 2020, covering a huge range of subjects, from a day in the archives, to extracts from the WVS bulletins, and histories of various WVS/WRVS services.
It’s 219 articles have become a valuable resource in themselves, why not search them or just browse to discover something new.
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This week’s blog introduces to you for your viewing pleasure, the WRVS Association newsletters which are now available online.
The Association’s archive has been catalogued and re-packaged and it's newsletters have been digitised and placed on our online catalogue as OCR searchable pdf attachments, for you to read, search and enjoy. Why not take this opportunity to read volunteer’s memories of their time with the charity, or to find out what branches of the Association got up to at their meetings. You could even just enjoy some of the jokes and poems the newsletters contain, which certainly kept me entertained whilst I worked to digitise the collection. Like this funny definition of Association members:
‘My husband always refers to us as "Vintage WRVS". Like old wine, I have found that we are mature, well-rounded and produce a lot of merriment and good humour.’
If you would like to browse this great resource just click here
and you will be redirected to our catalogue. From there, just click ‘advanced search’ and select ‘WRVSANEWS’ in the category drop down list to browse the newsletters. If you would like to search them for a particular subject, maybe a location or service, just enter your keyword in to the ‘WRVS Assoc. News Text’.
This month’s extract from the diary of Centre Organiser come from the WVS Bulletin April 1950, with the recipe from May 1950.
Tremendous re-organisation beginning in the Clothing Store : all warm garments are being smothered in anti-moth crystals and relegated to the top shelves to make room lower down for more summery ones. Mrs. Bright, who is in charge, shocked her helpers into bust ing activity to-day by saying : “ Here it is Monday morning; to-morrow will be Tuesday, and the next day Wednesday—the week’s half gone, and nothing done. Hurry up, all of you—Hurry ! ”
It is often difficult to curb Mrs. Catte’s bitter tongue, but perhaps a newcomer, Mrs. Stranger will prove equal to the task. During this afternoon’s Work Party Mrs. Stranger—at our invitation—was telling us a little about herself and the work she had been doing for W.V.S. in the Centre she came from. In addition she told us about her son who had won scholarship after scholarship and had just received promotion after only a few months in his first job. “ Isn’t it wonderful how lucky your boy is?” Mrs. Catte purred silkily, but there was a glint in her eyes. “ Yes,” Mrs. Stranger retorted instantly, “ isn’t it wonderful ? The harder he works the luckier he gets.”
Sudden outbreak of a particularly nasty type of feverish cold amongst the helpers, coinciding with an unexpected number of requests for “ Meals on Wheels ” for ex-hospital patients. Everbody—myself included —rushing around madly, trying to cope with the deliveries by car, bicycle and even perambulator. Returned to the office to find amongst the letters one written in the third person : “ Mrs. Appleton would not mind a ‘ Meal ’ on a ‘ Wheel,’ provided it arrives really hot and that the food is freshly cooked and not merely re-heated. She never touches liver and does not care for steamed puddings.” “ Would not MIND ...!!’
1 oz. margarine
2 tablespoons flour
1 pint milk
1/2 pint bottled tomato-water
Make this into a sauce. Add as much grated cheese as can be spared—not less than a breakfastcupful—and stir all into a smooth paste. Add 1/2 oz. gelatine dissolved in a little boiling water, mix well to prevent lumps. Allow this to get completely cold, then whip to a spongey consistency.
Having previously prepared a tin of evaporated milk by standing the tin unopened in a pan of cold water, brought to boiling point and boiled for 15 minutes and cooled thoroughly—overnight if possible —whip half a tinful of this milk until stiff. Then combine with the cheese sauce and pour into moulds. Decorate with paprika and parsley.
Yesterday was International Women’s day which included an equality march in London by hundreds of Women, including the Great-Granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst the leader of the Suffragette movement of the early 20th century. It seems incredible to me that almost one hundred years on from the pioneering work of these Edwardian women that gender equality has still not truly arrived.
Along with the coverage on the news, I also watched Amanda Vickery’s new programme, Suffragettes forever! I have been a fan of Amanda Vickery’s work for some time, ever since I read her book a Gentleman’s Daughter over 15 years ago while at University. In the first programme she explores the role of women in politics from the 18th Century, noting that there were no women in the House of Lords until 1958. You may be thinking where is he going with this, but, I am about to get to my point. That woman, the first to sit in the House of Lords, was the founder of the WVS, Lady Reading.
There were 4 women sworn in that day, but she was chosen to be the very first, a testament to her contribution and achievements. She is probably one of the ten most important women in the 20th century, along with such well-known names as Emmeline Pankhurst , Marie Curie, Eleanor Roosevelt or Rosa Parks, but very few people have ever heard of her.
There is not time in this short blog to List Stella Reading’s achievements and sadly no biography has ever been written about her, but through the WVS/WRVS and her other work she changed the way in which women were perceived. During WWII she created the largest women’s organisation in history with over one million members and spawned copycat organisations all over the world. Her idea changed the perception of Charity, from something which was dispensed by the rich to being an everyday action of helping your friends or loved ones. Volunteering became an activity for all and an opportunity to show in a society, where they were still marginalised, what they were capable of. I do not think it is an understatement that without the WVS and the vision of Lady Reading, much like it was in Germany, the war on the Home Front would have been lost.
The role women played in the Second World war can be argued as one very pivotal step in the slow narrowing of the gender gap and the WVS had impact far beyond the end of the war, with hundreds of thousands of women giving their time up to help their communities, whether that be assisting women prisoners in Holloway Gaol or providing flatlets in cities across Britain for young professional women in the 1950s and 60s.
Lady Reading, despite being a larger than life character was always the first to shy away from claiming any accolade or applause for her achievement. Unlike many of the greatest leaders in history she would never take the honours for herself, always crediting her ‘ladies’ with the triumph.
Posted by Matthew McMurray at 00:00
Monday, 09 March 2015.
International Women's day,
Stella Reading ,
House of Lords,
This week we are travelling to Wales, to celebrate St. David’s Day. Enjoy ‘More News from Wales’ from April 1958.
The record of the past two months in day-to-day work has continued and developed in spite of every possible vagary of weather. Snow, rain, flood, fog, icy roads have been taken in the W.V.S. stride. Meals-on-wheels in the very hilly areas have continued without a break and drivers are becoming highly skilled in handling vehicles on the icy slopes. We feel that many would give an excellent account of themselves in winter car rallies.
We are very sad to record in the decision to close Tonfanau Camp, Merioneth, that the W.V.S. Centre has also closed. This job has been continued with one or two short breaks since 1949 until now and from the highly flattering remarks made by Western Command we are glad to realise that the Army has found the work valuable. The site is on the edge of the sea and even in summer high winds and driving rain are a constant feature of this part of the coast. There are no towns of any size for miles and the W.V.S. Social Centre has proved a real blessing for the boys who have passed through the Camp. W.V.S. in Wales has been delighted to have been associated with the work and we have found that for some members working there it has been splendid training- ground before going overseas.
Cardiff W.V.S. are very pleased that their Darby and Joan Club which has been formed in the Docks district recently appeared in an I.T.V. programme featuring the life among the black population of seaport towns. Some of the old men were shown playing games, and a recording was made of the women singing. This is a very happy club, and we believe unique.
Cardiff W.V.S. were recently entertained en bloc at the Mansion House by this year’s Lady Mayoress, who is a very valued member of W.V.S. As the Deputy Lady Mayoress is also a member it was a very Civic occasion indeed and a most happy party.
Neath members, whose versatility has always been of a high order, have now excelled themselves in the formation of a “ Saucy Skiffle Group.” Dressed in highly coloured costumes and wearing wide- brimmed hats, they made their first appearance in public when they gave the Darby and Joan Club a concert for St. Valentine’s Day. Their report states: “The piano and the guitar probably supplied the music, but the saucepan lids and the wash-boards, the tin of peas, the whistle, the clappers, the wooden box with the taut rope (the double bass), all supplied the rhythm and the volume.” As it was for St. Valentine’s Day, the concert repertoire consisted mainly of love songs and Darbies and Joans joined heartily in all the choruses. One of the Joans in this club has recently made well over one thousand leeks for fervid Welshmen to wear at international matches and on St. David’s Day.
Posted by Matthew McMurray at 00:00
Monday, 02 March 2015.
St. David's Day,
Heritage Bulletin Blog,
Darby and Joan,
Meals on Wheels ,