The Guarlford Story
The WI in Wartime
Early wartime minutes of the regular monthly meetings reveal a great emphasis on food production, cookery, economy in all things, and much fundraising - all supporting the war effort. For example, in September 1941 it is reported that 967 pounds of jam had been made at 'The Centre'. Members were encouraged to register with the NFWI (National Federation) to obtain twenty four ounces of wool for knitting for the Forces coupon free and the meeting on February 2nd 1943 recorded that a letter had been received from Mr Atwood, "serving as a soldier", thanking them for the knitted comforts that had been sent to him and his friends. Meetings dealt with such things as 'Vegetable Cookery', 'Home Nursing' and 'Something New Out Of Something Old'. Mrs Elgar Blake, Sir Edward Elgar's daughter, sent a list of medicinal herbs to be picked from the hedgerow or gardens; members were urged to help the school children with their salvage of "paper and bones"; and, on October 6th 1941, ladies met at 2.30 p.m. to collect about "twenty pounds of rosehips". This emphasis on food and economy was not just 'Jam and Jerusalem' but in its way was an important form of war work. In March 1943, a visiting Able Seaman talked about his life protecting the convoys of merchant ships and emphasized the need for every effort in saving resources.
Even the prizes at the Garden Party in June 1942 took the form of Savings Stamps "…in accordance with the National Spirit", and whist drives were very popular, for example, for 'The Wool Fund', 'Aid To Russia', 'Salute the Soldier' and the Malvern Hospital. One minute mentions thanks from the hospital for eighty three eggs. Members helped with flag days ('Aid To China', 'Wings For Victory', for example), became blood donors and took in evacuees. They also made nine camouflage nets in three months from December 1943 to February 1944 . . .