Reminiscing with long-serving WRVS members

Jenny Tarn and Eden Maughan remember the WRVS

By Mary Deane

Recently I spent a pleasant afternoon chatting with two of our retired members-Jenny Tarn and Eden Maughan, both of whom hold long-service badges. Jenny enrolled in 1962, Eden in 1964, since when, as you know, there have been many changes.
Eden, a former member of the WAAF, was instrumental in setting up the local Meals on Wheels, using her own car, until the service supplied a van, which operation was ultimately taken over by the local authority. On one occasion, she attended to provide a service at Teeside Airport, should refreshments be required by visiting representatives.
Reminiscing with them about their various memories of former duties set me wondering how many present members are aware of what was involved in earlier times, even the post-war years, coping with unexpected emergencies, improvising with what materials were to hand- no going to the local supermarket for a pack of plastic cups and plates- everything had to be washed up by hand!

Jenny, known as the "clothing lady", responsible with other members for the Clothing Store; her husband also helped with collecting, bringing back clothes, blankets, etc. to the store for sorting. One occasion, a young man wanted a suit to be married in, but after searching everywhere in the store, unsuccessfully, and having a son approximately the same age, Jenny without further ado, went to her own home. She checked through his wardrobe, found a suit which fitted perfectly and the groom was delighted- another satisfied customer.
Eden and Jenny also helped in the cleaning of houses in Pelton Fell, a nearby village, in readiness for the repatriation of some Vietnamese refugees, also providing them with clothing, food, etc. At the time of a dreadful Italian earthquake, there was the job of sorting items and packing parcels in readiness to be shipped out.

Many public services benefited from WRVS assistance; provision of a tea bar at the local Magistrates Court, the local police canteen, the public library, appearance at agricultural shows, co-operating with the Red Cross doing first aid. Numerous sandwiches and cups of tea were made for the Scouts meetings. Always, as now, there was a busy tea bar and shop at hospitals to be manned, liaison with various church, and other groups, including St John's Ambulance service.

All WRVS members had a thorough training in emergency first aid procedures. With the threat of a nuclear war, building their own field kitchens, was a classic examples of resourcefulness and ingenuity, encouraged with instructions from the then Civil Defence (CD) group.

This is just a taster of the many experiences told to me. For those long-standing members, perhaps reading this short article has awakened memories of your own. In today's world of uncertainties, all are a source of inspiration to continue the WRVS in its vital role in being prepared to offer support (tea, and sympathy) when called upon.

Mary Deane
WRVS Member
Chester-le-Street Branch
Co. Durham

This page was added by John Cheves on 29/05/2009.

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