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Spinach and Beet - Part 16

Today’s Diary of a Centre Organiser is from April 1950

Tuesday

A survey of the town has revealed a “corner” of it which is out of reach of any existing Darby and Joan Club. Mrs Ream has energetically pushed a leaflet into the letter-boxes of all houses there known to be inhabited by one or more people over sixty, inviting them to a meeting to discuss the possible formation of a Club. “I’ve been so busy doing this and that, I even forgot to get my husband’s dinner to-day,” she confessed, and added: “He says the leaflets have gone to my head and that I’ve got a one tract mind!”

Wednesday

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.”

Friday

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 ...!!’

Recipe

from 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.

Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 26 October 2015.

Labels: Meals on Wheels, Darby and Joan Club, Meringue Cake, Recipe, Work Party , leaflets, RVS, WRVS, WVS, Spinach and beet

Over-sexed and over here

A new arrival at the archive yesterday has prompted this little look at British Welcome Clubs. The arrival was a very nice minute book, which a member of the public found in a junk shop, bought and donated to us via Warwickshire County Record Office. It is for the Leamington Spa British Welcome Club and dates from July 1944 until April 1946 when the club closed. ‘What is a welcome club!’ I heart you cry [not all at once please!].

The first British Welcome Club was set up by the WVS in Sunbury on Thames in 1942 as an experiment after the first American troops began to arrive on these shores. The idea was that it was a way of helping to smooth relations between local residents and the new arrivals, and give a ‘safe’ environment for local girls to meet GI’s, with ample supervision! The line ‘oversexed and over here’ was not unfounded!

WVS ended up running over 200 of these clubs, the Ministry of Information giving a grant of £30 to each one opened. Some would be opened for a short period as troops arrived and then moved on from areas, others stayed open for the remainder of the war, with most closed by 1946 as the troops returned home and the need for the clubs evaporated.

They had been trying unsuccessfully to start a Welcome Club in Leamington since February 1944, but they could not find suitable premises. It was not until 8th July 1944 that they succeeded, but their efforts were somewhat hampered by a huge influx of evacuees to the town that month which took up all their efforts. That coupled with what is described as an ‘un co-operative town committee’ and the resignation almost immediately of the Honorary Secretary of the club due to the administration load, meant an inauspicious start.

The opening night, programme started at 7:30pm, with dancing to a band from Stoneleigh from 7:30-8:45pm, followed by speeches, refreshments (which included home baked cakes ) from 9:00-9:30pm and then more dancing ‘till 10:30pm.

All though was not a total success, with the Master of Ceremonies not turning up due to his family being bombed out, the band had to leave early and the Mayor did not turn up! But all in all it had been ‘an encouraging start’.

This is just the start of the story, and hopefully we can return to Leamington in a few weeks time …

Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 00:00 Tuesday, 20 October 2015.

Labels: American, Welcome Club, WVS, American troops , GI's, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

The recent past

I pride myself on the fact that I have an excellent memory; and especially so when it comes to the achievements, triumphs and tribulations of our charity. It is my job after all, and I think (though I try not to claim it too loudly) that I probably know more about it than anyone else alive! Well it is my job!

I have been the Archivist at the Royal Voluntary Service now for nine years this month. Sometimes it seems a long time, until I realise that the first Archivist, Mrs Doreen Harris, did the job for 24 years, and when she took up the post had already given WVS twenty years service.

In 2008 I had the unenviable task of creating timeline of the organisation’s history. No one had done this before and I spent almost a year on and off, reading through archive material and compiling lists of notable achievements and events. To say that whittling down the items to include from 70 years of history was hard would be a crashing understatement! This very long and painful process produced one of the best little booklets we have ever done a concertina timeline which became so popular we had to reprint it at least five times.

It is now seven years since we produced that and I got a call the other day asking if we could revive it. While thankfully we could re-use most of the previous one, the last seven years have to be included and while the distant past of the organisation is like an old friend to me, the recent past can sometimes seem like a foreign country! While this is the past of Royal Voluntary Service I have lived myself, it sometimes seems less real that the activities of Lady Reading, Averill Russell and those other pioneers at Headquarters in the 1930s and 40s.

Thankfully the much missed Action magazine was there to help jog my memory and below you can see a small selection of the items I chose to represent the charities achievements over the last seven years. Do you agree with me? I am sure you will let me know if you don’t!

2008 - WRVS published its first independent social impact report, which showed that 73% of the people we helped felt less isolated.

2009 - 45 WRVS rural transport schemes gave 60,000 lifts to those in need and WRVS launched its ‘Give us a lift’ campaign.

2010 - Margaret Miller celebrated her 100th Birthday and also 70 years of volunteering for WRVS.

2011 - £1.4 million was gifted by WRVS to NHS Greater Glasgow, The largest amount ever gifted in one go!

2012 - WRVS set up 67 Hubs (local offices) across the country to bring the organisation of Voluntary Service back into the community.

2013 - After 75 years, the WRVS dropped the ‘W’ from its name and becomes the Royal Voluntary Service.

2014 - Royal Voluntary Service opened its first Men’s Shed in Northumberland, giving older men a chance to make things and make friends.

2015 - Royal Voluntary Service launched the first Grandfest, a festival, celebrating the skills of older people and offering them a chance to pass those on to the next generation.

Posted by Matthew McMurray at 00:00 Monday, 12 October 2015.

Labels: Margaret Miller, Rural Transport, Timeline, NHS Greater Glasgow, Hubs, Social Impact Report, Men's Shed, Grandfest, Lady Reading, Foreign Country, memory