The W.R.A.C. Association
Since 2018, we have used a combination of media training, media campaigns, collaborations and documentary film-making to raise the profile of The Women's Royal Army Corps Association - the only charity that specifically supports 'women who serve or have served' in the British Army. The film features double Olympic gold winner, Dame Kelly Holmes, who credits her time in the WRAC for helping her athletic career.
We are delighted to see our work continue to drive new membership, as well as awareness, for the charity. Over the past few years, we have secured a global media audience of several billion! Watch this brief film if you're curious about the history of women serving in the British Army. The film was made by the late, great veteran BBC Producer, Martin Freeth, and features remarkable archive footage of HM The Queen captured during her training period whilst served in WW2.
Dame Kelly Holmes is filmed by Curious PR and Film-Makers at the National Memorial Arboretum
Female Pioneers and their Stories
It is now over 100 years since the first women served in the forces, and how their roles have progressed. HM The Queen, the charity’s Patron, joined up during WW2 when the women’s regiment was known as the A.T.S. (Its name changed to the Women’s Royal Army Corps - W.R.A.C. - after WW2, but the corps was disbanded in 1992, and there is no longer a specific women’s regiment.) Joining-up was rare for women back then, but females now make up 1 in 10 of those serving in the British Army, and they hold almost the same roles as their male counterparts.
We continue to have the honour of educating the public about the pioneering roles that early Army females played: women such as 97 year old Betty Webb MBE, who helped to crack enemy codes at Bletchley Park. Key moments in history have led to great media interest in these women's stories, and to a very busy WRAC Association press office at Curious PR.
Buddying Up in the Face of the Coronavirus
During the Covid-19 pandemic, our team launch the charity’s Buddy-Buddy scheme, whereby veterans and vulnerable women are paired up. Interest amongst the media has been strong, with the stories of these pairs of women being told by various broadcasters, print and online publications, including ForcesRadio and BBC Radio stations around the UK.
Global Campaign Finds Centenarians
In 2020 we launched the charity’s global campaign to find the oldest surviving female veteran of the British Army via ‘Find Our O.A.T.s’ (oldest A.T.S. lady). This followed the widely reported death of Anne Robson aged 108, who was Britain’s oldest female veteran at that time. We helped to ensure Anne’s “fiercely independent spirit” was celebrated in headlines around the world, including in Mail Online, BBC News (TV & Online), Fox News. Indeed, we helped reach a staggering audience of over 2 Billion people! This campaign was announced first by The Express in the article, ‘Do you know Britain’s oldest female veteran?’ thus achieving the charity's goal of having new women join the charity.
Later that year, the campaign was successful in finding 103 year old Ena Collymore-Woodstock in good health, and still doing her daily exercise regime, living between Barbados and Jamaica. Ena served during WW2 and was the first black, female radar operator, based in both England and Belgium, including London during the Blitz. After WW2, Ena trained to be a barrister in London at Gray’s Inn, and went on to be the first woman of colour to serve in the judiciary in her home country of Jamaica. We were honoured to interview Ena via Zoom with the support of her family. Her determination to see action rather than ‘join the typing pool’ gained her story global media attention from the likes of Sky News (broadcast and online), Mail Online, The Telegraph, The Times, MSN, Polish News, earning the story a global media audience of over 114,000,000.
VE Day 75
The year 2020 meant our team was busy with VE Day 75 and VJ Day commemorations which led media platforms such as the BBC, ITV and Fox News to form queues to interview these rare and inspiring veterans. Despite Covid-19 lockdown, 8th May saw Britain mark 75 years since VE Day, a rare moment when people took to their front gardens and shared tea (at a safe distance) to honour the contribution of our veterans.
Our team worked hard to secure interviews in multiple publications such as The Times, and with the cooperation of carers, families and TV producers, several live broadcasts included a heart-warming 3-way interview live on BBC Breakfast (TV) when 97 year old Betty Webb MBE and 102 year old Molly Francis conversed lucidly from her care home, teasing Betty that she was just a 'spring chicken' at her age!) Television presenter, Lorraine, also interviewed Betty Webb on her show on the auspicious day. Betty's portrait then graced the cover of iconic, global magazine, National Geographic, in June 2020, to mark this period in history.
When the nation marked the 75th anniversary of Victory over Japan on August 15th, the WRAC veteran, Joan Rich, shared poignant memories of rehabilitating British P.O.W.s returning from Japan via The Times, BBC Radio 5 Live and ITV, (plus local news titles), helping us reach over 35 million people.
Benevolence & Support
As well as providing social contact, events and camaraderie for its members, the WRAC Association’s Benevolence Fund provides grants to help Army women who fall on hard times, as highlighted by a special television report for Channel 4 News, ‘Meet The Forgotten Women Veterans’, the result of a hardship campaign we ran with the media. Victoria Macdonald's sensitively-handled report highlights the specific challenges women faced (and still face) after leaving The Army, and the lack of all-round support available to them, despite their contribution to society.
Click HERE to view the Report
Curious to know more about women who served?
Then read the charity’s own book, ‘100 Wonderful Women’ which we launched at the National Army Museum as part of centenary celebrations detailing how Army women helped carve out new roles for females in wider society. The book was reviewed in the London press and was ‘book of the week’ in The Lady magazine – a publication of similarly impressive endurance!