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I’ve been working here at the archive in Devizes almost since we started four years ago, in that time I’ve done all sorts of jobs from sorting uniform to accessioning new material and now I am putting some old skills to use and cataloguing the library of books we have here.
All of them are related to WVS or WRVS in one way or another, albeit some very tenuously. There are coffee table picture books, history books, instruction manuals, memoirs and poetry amongst others. There are books signed by Lady Reading and other WRVS worthies, authors and other famous people. Some of the books are proof versions of WVS guides, with corrections and comments written in, others are gift copies from authors which have used the archives or reproduced some of our pictures.
To enable me to catalogue them properly I inevitably have to read them all, or at least scan through them. The tales that I have read can be funny or sometimes very sad. I do particularly like the memoirs and poems, getting lost in the stories of evacuees or wartime WVS ladies doing their bit for Blighty. My favourite so far has to be Nella Last and her wonderful diary, a testament to her aspiration to become a writer and her commitment to the WVS both during and after the War. Sometimes she wrote 1,000 words every evening. Her work feeding airmen in her services canteen and working in the centre at Barrow in Furness should be an inspiration to all.
I am about half way through my seemingly never ending task, having catalogued 95 books, with plenty more to go and more fascinating stories to uncover.