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. This film, which our team produced, features the double Olympic gold winning athlete, Dame Kelly Holmes, who credits her time serving as a fitness training instructor in the W.R.A.C. regiment for launching her athletic career.
Dame Kelly Holmes is filmed by Curious PR's production team at the National Memorial Arboretum
Watch it if you're curious about the history of women's roles through history. The documentary features remarkable archive footage of the late Queen, captured whilst she trained and served during WW2 as Princess Elizabeth. We are privileged to continue helping boost membership for WRACA, as well as awareness of the charity's work. We're also immensely proud that for almost 5 years, we have shed light on its people and its work, by securing a global media audience of several billion!
Female Pioneers and their Stories
It has been over 100 years since the first women served in the forces, and how their roles have changed! The late Queen was the charity’s Patron until her death. She joined up aged 18 when the only women’s regiment was the A.T.S. which changed its name to the Women’s Royal Army Corps after the war. In 1992, the corps was disbanded, and there is no longer a specific women’s regiment - women simply join male counterparts in various regiments.
Joining-up was rare for women back then, but females now make up 1 in 10 of those serving in the British Army, and hold almost identical roles as their male counterparts. We continue educating the public about the pioneering roles that early Army females played, including 98 year old Betty Webb MBE (pictured on the cover of National Geographic), who helped 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 WRACA press office at Curious PR!
The Death of HM The Queen, WRACA Patron
In September 2022, the nation bid farewell to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Patron of WRACA from 2003 until she died. We were honoured to share the story of how HM was approached by retired Lt Col Sue Westlake MBE, WRACA Vice President to take on patronage of the charity: “Taking the bull by the horns, I said that I appreciated that HM was beginning to hand over some of her patronages, but I wondered if she would consider making an exception and become our Patron. She smiled and said ‘Just write to my Private Secretary, I will tell him to expect a letter’. I wrote immediately and was thrilled when she agreed to be our Patron.”
In the aftermath of HM’s death, we secured over 12 media interviews for Sue across over 10 BBC regional radio stations, on Times Radio, and in The Times newspaper. We also fielded dozens of requests to interview Fiona Gardner OBE, who represented the charity at HMQ’s funeral, seen pictured on the front of the Financial Times. Ann Stack, WRACA member, was interviewed by Anna King at length to discuss the Royal Family and the history of the charity on BBC Radio Gloucestershire.
Meet the ‘Original’ Lionesses who spearheaded Women’s Euro Win
The regimental emblem of the WRAC is the rampant lioness, hence these women are referred to as ‘lionesses’. One such leonine figure is Mary Blake, member of the W.R.A.C. Association, who helped pave the way for England’s win at the 2022 UEFA Women’s Euro Finals - truly one of ‘the original Lionesses’! In 1969, Mary played at the first ever Women’s European Championships before joining the WRAC. Together with stellar fund-raiser Wendy Hooton, Mary witnessed the Women’s Euro finals live at Wembley, about which we secured a Page 3 article about her in The Daily Express, as well as interviews on her local station, BBC Radio Three Counties.
Great Yarmouth Bombing of 1943
In May 2022, we helped mark the biggest loss of female Army life in British history: the Great Yarmouth bombing of 1943, when 26 young servicewomen were killed by enemy plane bombardment. We ensured high quality media coverage of this tragic commemoration, including a beautifully-written article in Mail Online. Military History Matters, several BBC Radio Stations including BBC Three Counties Radio, and many other platforms shared our campaign to ensure ALL these women's names are rightly included on local war memorials. Thank you to journalists and all involved in the ongoing We Will Remember Her campaign.
Benevolence Helps Cost Of Living Crisis
With hardship in focus during 2021 after energy prices soared following the invasion of Ukraine, our team publicised the Benevolence aspect of the charity. We interviewed and wrote case studies of women in receipt of WRACA grants which are a lifeline for many. WRAC vterans such as Pamela Hodson were brave enough to welcome journalists to their homes to witness how they cope with the cost of living crisis. Their stories in The Express and Manchester World are encouraging fellow veterans to come forward to the charity for the many forms of support it offers.
We have no doubt that the ongoing cost of living crisis - and the specific issues that female veterans face - will require further PR support in 2023. To this effect, the team at Curious PR shares the spirit of the WRAC’s motto: “Gentle in manner, resolute in deed.”
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.
Emotional Support for Female Veterans
As well as providing benevolence, events and camaraderie for its members, WRACA offers emotional support in addition to benevolence 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’. This was the result of a hardship campaign we ran with the media. This sensitively-handled report highlights the specific challenges women faced (and still face) after leaving The Army, and the lack of all-round support available, despite their contribution to society.
Click HERE to view the Report