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Royal Voluntary Service blog
Find out about the people behind Royal Voluntary Service in our series of guest stories from our volunteers, staff and partners.

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"There is no downside to volunteering"

Becky BlackMeet Becky, who volunteers in our Good Neighbours scheme in Huddersfield. She’s been a player of the People’s Postcode Lottery for around 18 months.

Find out more about People’s Postcode Lottery

Becky Black visits Ralph every Friday and they go out for coffee or go for a short stroll in the local park.

“I’m volunteer for the Good Neighbours service in Huddersfield. I see Ralph, who’s 93, for about an hour and a half every Friday. If he’s feeling reasonably fit, we go for a walk in a local park or go to a café for a coffee. There is a reservoir near him which is very pretty so sometimes we go and sit and look at the view.

“After retiring, I decided that I had more time and as I don’t have any family nearby, I could spare some time for others. I’d like to think that someone would volunteer with my mum, who lives in Scotland, if she wanted someone to pop over for a chat.

“I don’t see my seeing Ralph as volunteering; he’s my friend and I enjoy spending time with him. He’s a really nice guy. It feels more like going for coffee with my friend every Friday.

Ralph and Becky

“I love to hear his stories and I always tell him what I’ve been up to. It’s good to have to a face to face proper relationship and Ralph has become a good friend. He came over my house not long ago and met the whole family - my husband, three children and grandchild. It was lovely.

“There is no downside to volunteering. If Royal Voluntary Service are short of volunteers then I help with hospital visits or take people shopping. In the summer, my family spend a lot of time in France because we have a house over there, but I think Ralph understands. It’s always nice to go and see him when I get back.

“I’ve been playing the People’s Postcode Lottery for around 18 months now; I like to play because they support a good range of charities including the Royal Voluntary Service!”

Funds raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery are supporting our services for older people across Great Britain.

Posted by Becky at 00:00 Thursday, 17 November 2016.

Labels: Royal Voluntary Service, volunteering, Good Neighbours,

We remember them

WVS member serves soldiersJennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at the Royal Voluntary Service Archive, tells us about her thoughts ahead of Remembrance Day.

At this time of year, we take time to remember the fallen during all conflicts. It’s a thought-provoking time to focus on resolution and be thankful for peace when it touches our lives.

My thoughts turn immediately to service men and women whose lives were so greatly affected in their dedication to protecting our country. I also think of the civilians and service people on home ground that gave their lives; many were sadly killed during wartime, including some 245 Women’s Voluntary Services (WVS) ladies who were on duty.

These inspiring women volunteered their services and were essential in keeping the home fires burning. They helped during the Blitz, oversaw the evacuation of children from cities, and ran British Restaurants and mobile canteens to feed the needy as well as many other Services between 1938 and 1945.

WVS members serve food to soldiers

Members lost their lives during the War, most of whom were on duty, are remembered in the Roll of Honour which is on display in Westminster Abbey. We remember all those who died, including:

  • Kathleen Pinder of the Housewives Service was killed on 13th December 1940 while on her Housewives duty in Sheffield by a heavy explosive attack on the house next door.
  • Winifred Alliker who was Leader of a Sewing Party in Thurrock, Essex. She remained sewing instead of taking shelter as the work in hand was urgently needed in hospital. Her whole family was killed at the same time on 9th April 1941.
  • Margaret Jackson, Catherine Little, Ada Morris, Elizabeth Gertrude Sherwood, Agnes Cooper Vernon and Jeanie Wright were all on duty as Rest Centre Workers at St Andrews Rest Centre in Bootle, Liverpool when it received a direct hit on 3rd May 1941.
  • Ethel and Winifred Hayward; sisters who were killed by a direct hit on the Clothing Depot in Crayford, Dartford on 13th July 1944 while issuing clothing to Evacuees. Fortunately most of the people were waiting outside as, of those inside, only two were alive when dug out.
  • Dorothy Cook, a Mobile Canteen Driver, was driving a YMCA Canteen van in the Bristol Docks area during the blackout on 9th December 1940. The vehicle fell into the water and Mrs Cook was trapped in her van and drowned. She had been driving continuously for a week through the Blitz.
  • Isabella Muirhead Hunter, a First Aid Post Worker in Paisley Large Burgh, was on duty when the post was destroyed by a Parachute Mine, on 6th May 1941.
  • Rose Bonsall, a Rest Centre Worker ARP Warden, died from injuries received from the explosion of a time bomb while on her way to a Rest Centre, Wrexham on 31st August 1940.

Thanks to the support of donors, we are currently digitising the reports of over a million wartime women so that all can appreciate them and find out more about this key time in history. Until our Million Women project is complete, you can find out more about our archive and you can view the full Roll of Honour online.

Posted by Jennifer Hunt at 00:00 Thursday, 10 November 2016.

Labels: Royal Voluntary Service, WVS, Archive, WWII,