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It may surprise you to learn that for three days last week the Archivist, Deputy Archivist and Archives Business Manager were setting up a new exhibition at Wiltshire Museum in Devizes. The Archive team have been planning this since the middle of last year writing content, selecting objects and preparing resources. Finally it is already in place ready to be seen by the public, this is a taste of what to expect from Compassion in Crisis.
In 1938 Lady Reading started to mobilise an army of women who would be essential in winning the Second World War. By 1941 this was over 1,000,000 who were often referred to as ‘the women in green’ because of their uniform and they were known for offering tea and comfort to all who needed it in a time of crisis. At the end of the war dangers to civilians didn’t just fade away and a new threat of nuclear war was ever on people’s minds.
The exhibition looks at the emerging role of WVS inemergencies during the war and how this developed in the post-war world. Part of the exhibition explores the One-in-Five scheme which aimed to educate one in every five women on what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. Women also joined the Food Flying Squads part of the Civil Defence Welfare Section. These women didn’t just have training exercises they also provided relief to those affected by floods in 1953. There were also other skills and services providedby WVS during the war which did not become obsolete in the post war era.
Dutch and Belgium refugees as well as evacuees had been helped by WVS; with the war, revolution and natural disaster in other nations fresh waves of refugees arrived in Britain in 1950s to 1980s. WVS or WRVS by the time Vietnamese, Ugandan Asian and Kosovan refugees arrived were always ready to comfort those in need and give them a safe place to stay. Compassion in Crisis looks at how WVS/WRVS showed compassion to refugees and gave them comfort intheir time of crisis. It also reflects on how voluntary service and what itmeans to be a volunteer has changed as we have moved into the twenty first century.
The Exhibition at Wiltshire Museum will run from the 7th May to 24th June, we hope you will take the opportunity to get a rare glimpse at some of the objects, uniform and records preserved by the Royal Voluntary Service Archive & Heritage Collection. If you have children we also have an exciting trail to follow round the exhibit and the chance to build a model emergency cooker.
If you would like to know more about the history of Royal Voluntary Service or WVS in Devizes during World War II there are lectures from Matthew McMurray and David Dawson on 6th and 20th June.
The WVS Clothing Department was established in 1939 to run Regional Clothing Depots which provided garments, shoes and boots for children. Clothing was donated, sent from overseas by the Canadian and American Red Cross, and handmade in working parties. Volunteers would run regional and sub-depots; sorting, and distributing clothing as part of WVS’s Civil Defence role.
Clothing was also supplied to adult evacuees and the homeless from 1941 resulting in six and a half million garments being distributed between 1940 and 1943. The WVS also opened Clothing Exchanges from 1943 allowed parents to swap clothes for their growing children without using valuable coupons. As a result millions more garments were given out during 1944, 1945.
Although Depots began to close in 1946 many people still needed assistance and WVS carried on its vital role in clothing setting up County, Centre and County Borough Clothing Depots. It was also a huge part of WVS Civil Defence work providing clothing to flood victims in 1947 and 1953.
Clothing Depots were for people who had no other way of clothing themselves and they had to be recommended by certain bodies or organisations. This included the NSPCC, Ministry of Pensions, Hospital Almoners and Prohibition Officers, Doctors and Social Services.
Over the years clothing was also distributed to refugees from Hungary in 1956 and then Ugandan Asians in 1972. The demand for clothing continued to be high and by 1976 1.5 million garments were given out each year. In the late 1980s they were renamed Clothing Stores and distributed around 2 million garments a year. At that time stores could be found in Area, County, Scottish Regional, Metropolitan, District, Local and London Borough Offices.
As part of the Voices of Volunteering
project 2014-2016 over 80 volunteers shared their experiences including for some clothing stores. Barbara Sparks a volunteer in Somerset was one of those volunteers.
"Then I started to work in the clothing store and thoroughly enjoyed it, absolutely
[Interviewer] Who would come into the clothing store?
[BS]: It, they were sent by Social Services, they had to have a need. And they
would be supplied with up to three changes of clothing twice a year so they
could come in the summer for summer clothes and then in the winter for their
winter stuff. And everything was logged down in a book and, if they came back
in between time and tried to swing the lead that they needed more because
they hadn't got any, the ladies would go and produce the book and say ‘Look, is
that your signature? Because on the such and such a date you were given this,
this, this, this, this and this, what have you done with it’? ‘Ah, I, well it wore out’
or well, and that was fair enough, that was fair comment. But if it was just that
they'd sold it because they thought they'd get a couple
of pennies for it, well no, they didn't get anything else. The ladies were quite strict like that, but you
needed to be. And it was quite, quite sad to see some of the people that came
in some days because one lady came in, no names obviously, but she’d, she’d
been pregnant and she's got a maternity grant and she’d blown the lot on a pink
baby dress because it was something she’d never had when she was a child,
and she just loved this dress, and she blew the entire maternity grant and then
she had a red headed boy. And poor lady, she came in and she said ‘What am I
going to do’? And they said ‘Don't worry, don't worry, we’ll sort you out’. And
they gave a complete layette, so she had everything from nappies right the way
through to vests and booties and, and, and little rompers, everything that the
baby needed for a little boy. And it was so tragic to think that she’d, she’d been
so much in need when she was a child that all she wanted was this dress for
her child. Really, really sad. And yes, I used to go in
there on a regular basis, well three times a week.
Some people you, you thought ‘Well, why did you do it’? One of my relatives
was quite high up in Social Services elsewhere and he said he loved WRVS,
absolutely loved WRVS clothing stores because their s
taff were being asked for
money and they knew it wasn't being spent on what it was being asked for
whereas they could give them a letter for our clothing store and we would make
sure that they actually got what they are supposed to need. And that they could
use it that way. He, he couldn't sing their praises high enough. So it was a much
needed facility at the time."
You can find more oral histories and information about clothing stores by serching Archive Online.
Or even the fifteenth
century if you count the commonplace book which emerged as a way to compile
information such as sketches, poems, documents, recipes, etc. sound familiar?
Pinterest is a web and mobile app, founded in 2009, to
enable people to find and collect ideas on various topics. Royal Voluntary
Service has its own boards including preserve and bread making and you can find
and pin many posts about WVS or WRVS on the site. However this blog isn’t about
our history or records on Pinterest; it’s once again time to think what did we
do before the internet. How did we collect memories, images and news stories to
inspire others and create a record of our own interests? We created scrapbooks
is a method for preserving, presenting and arranging personal and family
history in the form of a book. Typical memorabilia includes photographs,
printed media, and artwork. In the twentieth century WVS/WRVS centres and
services made scrapbooks to record their work in a more personal and less
official way than the Narrative Report they produced monthly. Of course some of
these have made their way to the Archive shelves included in local office
collections or as personal donations to the collection. Like any other
traditional archive item they need to be preserved but also made accessible
here are some of the issues faced by archivists when caring for scrapbooks.
One of the major issues we face is how to preserve scrapbooks
which have usually been created using the enemies of the archivists; glue,
sellotape and paper full of acid I could go on but there isn’t enough
time. The major issue when preserving a
scrapbook is its condition. When it has just arrived in your collection you
look inside and some things have come loose. You have to think about how you
put it back/mark where it originally belonged; perhaps some corn starch glue of
a paper clip but it must be reversible. The book itself may also be fragile and
you should handle it carefully proper storage can help with this acid free
paper, folders and boxes can be a good start. The condition of scrapbooks may
also deteriorate where it contains materials which can cause damage in the
future, there are conservation treatments available however in terms of
preservation we must constantly monitor the condition of our archives. We do a
very good job here at Royal Voluntary Service the memories of service users and
volunteers carefully preserved. Today being an archivist appears to be like standing
in the middle of a seesaw and trying to balance it perfectly on one side sits preservation,
on the other access.
Scrapbooks are a unique way for showing current and future
generations the ideas and activities of people in the past while Pinterest
boards and digital scrapbooks are easily accessible (for the moment) archived physical
scrapbooks often sit on shelves and access means visiting the archive. You may
ask why don’t we just catalogue and digitise these collections however there is
a major issue here, copyright.
Scrapbooks are often compiled using many different sources
of course the creator but then they may have used newspaper articles,
publications and other documents whose copyright belongs to someone else so
before they can be made publically accessible in a digital format we’d need to
gain permission from several different people. Here many of our scrapbooks
contents will still be in copyright because are collection is a very modern one
(in terms of history). This isn’t the only barrier there is also the question
of how this would be hosted and maintained as some digital formats become
obsolete but of course were archivists I’m sure we could find a solution.
Perhaps a national project called save our scrapbooks (inspired by save our
sounds of course) a campaign to preserve these unique insights into history and
make them more accessible.
Obviously all traditional archives have similar issues which
we have to apply expertise to. As archivists we preserve scrapbooks in our
collection and find ways to allow the public access to them. However In the
twenty-first century we must also ask how we do this and do we need to start
focusing digital equivalents such as Pinterest or even people’s own artwork on
their home computers? But this is a blog for another day.
During the war the Scottish section of the WVS tended to maintain a more independent status from the rest of the organisation. This is evident within our collection of Narrative Reports; the National Headquarters series has no records from 1942 to 1960, we hope they survived somewhere in Scotland. For many years WVS/WRVS had a Scotland Headquarters in Edinburgh which did not send Narrative Reports to London till after the establishment of the Archive in 1958. Fortunately, we still have other sources mentioning the activities of WVS Scotland and the Narrative Reports which made it to London HQ between 1939 and 1941 draw attention to the wide array of activities performed by Scottish volunteers in the early years of the war, one such report recorded the decisions of a local meeting held in January 1941 in the town of Ayr; it provides an excellent example of WVS Salvage work
The Waste Food for Pigs campaign was created as
part of the Government’s National Salvage Scheme to help maintain a constant
supply of feed for the nation’s livestock. In order to accomplish this, kitchen
waste was boiled and concentrated at special plants, thus resulting in what is
commonly known as pig swill. Working in tandem with the local authorities, the
WVS helped organise this scheme to ensure that salvage became an integral
component of wartime society.
To help address this issue, the above meeting
was facilitated by Mr J.B, Crookes, the National Controller of Salvage for
Scotland and also by Mr Strain of the local Cleansing Department and Regional
Salvage Advisor for the West of Scotland. Their attendance to this meeting also
demonstrated its significance, because it is quite possible that their
solutions for tackling ‘pig swill’, may have filtered down to other WVS
centres.Such as members of East Barnet, Hertfordshire featured in the two photographs in this week's blog. The meeting in Ayr laid out the schemes structure.
After a series of discussions, they concluded that the Burgh of Ayr would be
divided into districts for the collection of pig feed. To ensure there were
enough collection points, a bin would be placed on each street for every ten or
twelve households. One member from the WVS Housewives’ Service would be
responsible for each bin. The members were keen to implement this system
swiftly, so shiny new bins were distributed to five locations around the town
to then be placed on an appropriate street corner.
a) Allotment Schemes.
b) Fruit Shops, Multiple Stores, Canteens.
c) Tenement Properties.
d) Villas, Bungalows, Mansion Houses.
e) Hotels, Boarding Houses.
Royal Burgh of Ayr Centre Report January 1941
Due to the fact that this is the last year of reports we hold for the Burgh of Ayr
until 1961, it is very difficult to ascertain whether or not the solutions
proposed in this meeting were a resounding success. Although you might wish
to scour the Scotland reports featured in the WVS Bulletin during the war. Nevertheless,
the centre organiser for Ayr was more than complimentary about how the meeting
WVS later WRVS Scotland acted as both Region 11
and in some ways a separate organisation with its own Headquarters up until
1980s/1990s. However, it is evident from
the earliest records that their commitment to Lady Reading’s vision of voluntary
service was and is at the same level as the rest of Great Britain. Especially
true when it came to the establishment National (UK wide) schemes such as
salvage and the collection of waste food in the burghs.
the Heritage Bulletin Blog comes to you in the form of our second podcast. As
it’s Explore Your Archive Week
we thought we would treat you to a clip from one
of our oral histories. We're exploring the ideas behind why people volunteer and Mary Gibbons a volunteer in South Wales told the project why girls taking part in volunteering for Duke of Edinburgh got involved and the impact that had.
Hopefully you will then be inspired to visit Archive
Online and explore the Voices of Volunteering
collection for yourself. Clips
and resources based on oral histories are also available on the Voices of Volunteering School Resources page.
who can't listen to the podcast, which I whole heartedly recommend, the
transcript is below.
The Duke of Edinburgh
Award. There was a school in, in Swansea, a girl’s school, and one of the
Masters at the girl’s school had always been interested in Duke of Edinburgh
Award, and he persuaded the Head Mistress there to let him use some of his
pupils for Duke of Edinburgh. Now he was using girls who were challenged. They
seldom went to school, they had got very little home support, they really were
not bright. And he had said to them would they like to do this, you see,
because in Duke of Edinburgh you have to do a certain amount of service. And so
the service was our service, helping out at WRVS Luncheon Clubs for the
elderly, which the girls thought was wonderful. So he sort of said to us ‘Will
you do the rest of it’? Because they obviously had to know all about WRVS and
they had to do a certain amount of, of work with it, so we had said ‘Yes’, and
the girls were good. But the girl, he said to the girls ‘You only go to the
Luncheon Club if you go to school’.
Now truancy was the
thing. So in fact, for the year that we
were doing it there, or for the two years, they went to school every day
because they wanted to go to the Luncheon Club. And we used to go and we would
do lessons with them, but we knew that they couldn't really take things down
because possibly they couldn't write, they couldn't read and it was just very
unfortunate for them. But we, even when it came to the test or, or sort of
making sure they'd got it all, we had an oral rather than a written. Now for
other schools we would do written things whereas with them it was… And we
didn't do the testing at the end, but other people did, and that was quite
amazing because they all got through.
And I can see it now,
we had the Head Mistress was there the last, they, they had to have the
certificates given to them and the badges. And they had got, he had organised a
very special coffee morning. All the girls had been in the day before to help
make cakes and things. And their parents had been invited. And it, she had sort
of introduced the girls, and how superb they had been, and the WRVS had been
doing this and that, and then I had to say something about them because I was
Emergency Services, I had to say something about what we’d done with them. And
then, you know, sort of say, we had given them their things and praise and
And afterwards I was
going round talking to the parents who were there. And I can remember going up
to this dad and his daughter was there as proud as punch, and I said to him
‘Well, what did you think’? He said ‘Oh’, he said ‘how I didn't cry’, he said,
‘I had to take time off work because I never ever thought she would get
anything’. And I thought that was lovely. He’d, he was so chuffed that she’d
got something, you know. you know. Out of all of this, so different, so
different. So it did do very well, and actually he [the Duke of Edinburgh] came
to Swansea on one occasion and we were there, there were two of us, somebody,
Julie, another girl, and the two of us were there with some of our, with some
of us, the school girls. And, and he had talked to them, which was, he thought,
they thought was wonderful. But, no, that was good.
Mary Gibbons Volunteer
On 23 August the Tea & Co. Café at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridgeshire was officially opened. It is one of a
range of developments in the charity’s Healthier Choices retail transformation programme which also includes Shop & Co. The Café is run by a staff and volunteer team in Cambridgeshire. This week
we thought it might be interesting to look at the history of Addenbrooke’s and
Royal Voluntary Service.
The first canteen was established in 1950 in “a passage
between the out-patients' department and the hospital itself. There was room
for only two people behind the counter and a row of customers in front, with a
constant stream of stretchers, chairs and nurses passing behind”. (WVS Bulletin January 1954, page 5). It quickly expanded as a new canteen with work
space was opened; in the 1950s 80,000 people were served annually.
Canteen helpers were needed weekly to prepare food, defrost
refrigerators, keep statistics and accounts, serve customers and wash up. In
1960 Cambridge City held a meeting of WVS Hospital Helpers to celebrate their
ten years' service in the Out-Patients' Canteen at Addenbrooke's Hospital.
“This very modern and up-to-date canteen was equipped from the profits” gifts
from further profits given to the hospital in the 1960s included a television set
for the Children's Ward, 160 trays, one carrying chair, and two geriatric chairs (WVS Bulletin May 1960).
In the 1960s Addenbrooke’s opened a new hospital which meant the opening of a
new canteen for WRVS in the late 1960s.
By the 1970s WRVS ran two canteens one in the old and one in
the new hospital; they funded a house for the relatives of patients who lived a
long way from the Hospital. When the old hospital closed a second canteen was
opened to cope with increased demand. The new canteen opened in 1972, at the
time WRVS also provided trolley shops, a patient helpers’ service, reception
duties and flower arranging. The Narrative Reports which we talk about so often
recorded the story of voluntary Service until the early 1990s in Cambridge.
Reports mentioned Addenbrooke’s had canteens in Radio Therapy and Out Patients.
They also started to serve new lines including toasted sandwiches. In the early
90s the Hospital Organiser continued to provide the service to the hospital as
well as a trolley shop.
Unfortunately the archive does not hold many records of the
charity’s activities in the 1990s however we do know that volunteers from
Addenbrooke's went to London to assist Cilla Black with the launch of the “Give
us a hand campaign” in 1998. It was designed to encourage people to volunteer
with WRVS. The campaign embraced the power of celebrity, asking famous people
to pledge their support by sending in an autographed outline of their hands.
Over a hundred celebrities took part, including Imogen Stubbs, Stephen Fry, Sir
Ian McKellen, Robbie Coltrane, Sean Bean and David Suchet. The campaign also
saw ordinary people make colour paper cut-outs of their own hands at the WRVS
stand at the Ideal Health Show, then hang them on a cardboard tree. The WRVS
continued to run services at Addenbrooke’s into the 2000s when changes began to
The early 2000s saw a few changes to WRVS’ role at
Addenbroke’s. A new Coffee Shop was opened in 2003 which was rebranded after
the rebranding of Women’s Royal Voluntary Service to WRVS (Green and red to
purple and orange) in 2004. In 2013 the charity was renamed Royal Voluntary
Service and more recently plans for hospital shops, canteens and tea bars were
updated to provide healthy options in hospitals and to bring back the red and
green branding. Addenbrooke’s is now one of Royal Voluntary Service Tea & Co. cafés and the volunteers and staff will continue this
partnership steeped in history.
If you would like to learn more about Royal Voluntary
Services history with hospitals then read our fact sheet Welfare work in hospitals 1938 – 2013.
Learning to structure a catalogue for an accession at the Royal Voluntary Service
In my last blog
I wrote about my first experience of the accession process, for the
Royal Voluntary Service Archives & Heritage Collection, as I unpacked the
extensive records of the Ebley Silver Threads over 60s Club, that had been collated
by Mary Curtis the leader of the Gloucestershire Club from 1966 to 2008. In
this month’s blog however I turn my attention to my first encounter of structuring
and cataloguing, which began after the receipt of a signed gift agreement from
the collection custodian to transfer the documents to the archive.
The first step
was to design a suitable structure, so that the collection could be
incorporated into the searchable archive, based on the initial review of the
contents. It would have been a daunting task were it not for the helpful
beginners guide to hierarchical archive structures, included in volume 6 of the WRVS Heritage Bulletin, and the comprehensively mapped out catalogue
structure helpfully pinned to the archive storeroom wall. In the course of
reviewing the documents it had become apparent that despite the inclusion of
the personal records of Mary Curtis, detailing her association with the WRVS over
46 years, it should be classified as the records of a local office as it
covered the activities of the Stroud and Gloucestershire group over an
This meant that
the collection Fonds (WRVS) and Sub Fonds (LO) levels of the catalogue structure
were quickly in place, and the Series based on the location of the activity
could be determined. As Ebley is situated in the Stroud region of
Gloucestershire the question was therefore only whether the village was in the
rural or urban area. Surprisingly however, this was not a straightforward
answer as it appeared to be referenced both ways, but ultimately it was decided
that it was most often classified as being in the Stroud Urban District and so
the Series abbreviation was settled upon (STD UD). An abbreviation of Ebley
Silver Threads over 60s Club could then be slotted easily into the Sub Series
catalogue structure only needed to be developed into Files, Sub Files and if
appropriate Items. To aid this construction process a large sheet of paper was
found and an outline of what the collection should look like was mapped out
from the notes taken during the preliminary review.
As the bulk of
the collection was made up of the photographic records of the week long Club
holidays around the United Kingdom, which many members of the Club participated
in between 1970 and 2007, this became the first File (HOL) with the individual
locations as Sub-Files. This meant that the Sub File abbreviations could adopt
an existing structure used elsewhere in the archive. Other Files were also
incorporated for the Club Activities (ACTV) which were not associated with the
holidays, such as Easter Bonnet making or the more frequent activities such as
Christmas parties and day trips. For Member linked activity (MEMB) such as
gatherings for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and departures another File
As a WRVS Local
Office there were also circular notices (CN) and regional publications (PUB) to
include (which would have a wider relevance within the archive) as well as the
Club records such as meeting minutes (MIN), general administration (ADMIN),
finance (FIN), publicity (PBY). All of these were references which had been
created previously in other catalogued projects and consequently the
utilisation of them for this collection helped maintain consistency across the
also needed to be space to incorporate the personal records of Mary Curtis
(CURM). This File included Sub-Files for all the letters and correspondence
(CORR), newspaper cuttings (NEWS), ideas and reminders (NOTES) she accumulated
in her role as Club Leader, as well as the recognition (AWARD) she received
over the course of her work with the older citizens of Ebley from 1962 to 2008,
as a dedicated member of the WRVS.
structure was complete the processing could begin with items carefully gathered
together and referenced in accordance with the entry into the archive catalogue
(CALM). Throughout this process the original order of the collection was
maintained in the physical files. Whilst the majority of the documents received
were incorporated into the catalogue, with only those not connected to the WRVS
Club or which were available in other archives excluded, only a selection of
the photographs from each of the holidays were included. No restrictions were
placed on how many photographs could be included in the final catalogued
collection but images were selected based on content or if annotations had been
added. Overall the selected photographs for cataloguing were those which it was
felt could visually record, describe and place the activities of the Club.
I have now
finished processing this accession (phew!) and the catalogue records will be
online next time we update the Archive Online pages. Until then I will be
applying my new skills to the Aylesbury Local Office Collection!
This week we bring you another Heritage Bulletin Vlog, the script can be seen below.
Hello and welcome back to another Heritage Bulletin Vlog we’ve been very busy over the last few months with lots of exciting projects like the launch of our Narrative reports on our online archive.
In 1950 a report called WVS Work in Hospitals, said that “the effect of a cup of tea is magical” and looking at the many objects which represent tea and its importance to the organisation is like looking down a rabbit hole, you never know what you might find. Here in front of me are just a couple of examples of the mugs and tea pots we have produced over the years.
Providing tea and food during World War II was a main feature of WVS work so I thought I’d share a tea related story with you this week called Caravan Canteen.
“A hospital train pulled into the siding. Stretcher-bearers clambered out. They set their stretchers down and the casualties came to life and converged upon us. We were surrounded. “Coffee? Tea? Soup?”
The soup came out of the tap in a reddish gush into the white mug. An aged man conspicuously labelled fractured femur sniffed at it with the sagacity of an ancient foxhound. “Tomato soup”, I improvised. “Or would you rather have tea?” fractured Femur nodded. I drew off a mugful from the other urn. It swirled into the mug with a deep and greenish look, as if from the dark backward and abysm of time.
“WVS colours, huh?” said a voice in the crowd”. But they drank up, and after the first urn was emptied the tea came out a better colour."
That’s all we have time for but you can read the full story by clicking on the link below.
WVS Bulletin March 1940 page 7
Learning to deal with an accession at the Royal Voluntary Service
Following my initial
introduction to the wide array of resources held by the Royal Voluntary Service Archive & Heritage Collection, and the subsequent
publication of my first Heritage Bulletin blog at the beginning of February
2017, my primary experience of an accession to the archive came in the form of
a collection accumulated by the leader of the ‘Ebley Silver Threads over 60's
Club’, Mrs Mary Curtis. This submission to the archive followed directly on
from an interview for the ‘Voices of Volunteering’ project conducted by the
Deputy Archivist, Jennifer Hunt, with Mary late in 2015.
which had been maintained by Mary between 1962 and 2008, first in her capacity
as a member of WVS and subsequently as the club leader after 1966, had arrived
at the archive in January 2016 following an enquiry from the custodian of the
documents. It came in a hefty and bulging briefcase, along with two large and
very full cardboard boxes. My first task was consequently to unpack the
collection, whilst maintaining the original order, so that a preliminary
assessment of the contents could be made.
Initially it had
been thought that the collection was comprised mainly of the photographs and the
personal records and mementoes of Mary in her association with the WRVS (now Royal Voluntary Service) and the
Ebley Silver Threads club, but during this review it soon became apparent that rather
than a personal collection, it would be better categorised as the records of a
local office. The Ebley Silver Threads over 60's Club’ had been formed in 1966
by Mary and a few other members of the WRVS upon their recognition that no
social group existed for the older members of their local community in the
urban region of Stroud, Gloucestershire. Whilst identified as a local club by
its members, it was nevertheless part of the wide range of older persons’
welfare work conducted by the organisation, belonging to the service originally
known nationwide as the ‘Darby and Joan Clubs’.
As a consequence
included amongst the documents were several WVS Circular Notices such as, "Model
Rules for the Constitution of a Local Darby and Joan Club run by WVS", “"WVS
Darby and Joan Clubs, Notes for the Guidance of Leaders" and “WVS
Insurance in Darby and Joan Clubs”. In addition there were blank ‘Older
People's Club’ membership cards which recorded subscription payments, and a
WRVS newssheet on “Meals on Wheels and Lunch Clubs”.
At the club
level there was a minute book of Committee Meetings and the Annual General
Meetings between 1971 and 2008, extracts from the financial records and
statements, in addition to copies of the letters and correspondence sent and
received by Mary in her role as club leader. Whilst the bulk of the collection
related to the holidays and activities organised for the club members, and was
made up in particular of the photographs taken of the group, there were also
records of the recognition paid and awards given to Mary by the WRVS and her
local community for her work and commitment to the older citizens in Ebley and
the surrounding area.
was no doubt that this collection fitted with the collection policy of the
archive and that it would be a valuable addition. As a consequence a gift agreement
was therefore sought from the custodian to allow work to proceed to incorporate
it into the archive.
Look out for my next blog in September when I will describe
my next stage of the journey: learning to catalogue the collection.
After the excitement and perhaps in some cases disappointment of the results of the Wimbledon finals over the weekend I thought you would be interested in reading about WVS/WRVS’s involvement with Wimbledon. A past blog three years ago talked about volunteers running the information desks during the competition in July. This service was in return for the use of the courts for a tournament run in September originally organised by the WVS Club.
On 4th June 1947 the Queen Mother opened the WVS Club at 41 Cadogan Square London/. The club was open to members and ex-members who could apply to join for an annual subscription of £2 2s 2d with a £3 3s 0d entrance fee. It was to be a central meeting place for all members and organised the WVS Tennis Tournament from September 1948 till it closed in 1955.
First held in 1948 the Tennis Tournament was held in September at Wimbledon on the first day WVS supported an American Tournament and on the second day members were invited to play in a ladies doubles competition. In November the following report was printed in the WVS Bulletin:
Although the WVS closed the Tennis continued into the 1980s and possibly 1990s though the last mention in the Archives is the WRVS Association Newsletter No.18 May 1983.