The WRAC Association
Through a combination of media training, media campaigns and documentary film-making, our team has helped to raise the profile of The WRAC Association – the only charity that specifically supports women who serve (or have served) in the British Army. It is over 100 years since the first women served in the forces, and how their roles have progressed! Before WW2, joining-up was rare for women, but now they form 1 in 10 of those serving in the army and do pretty much the same tasks as male counterparts. We’ve been raising awareness of the role these pioneering women played during WW2, including 96 year old Betty Webb MBE, who helped to crack enemy codes at Bletchley Park, and double Olympic gold athlete, Colonel Dame Kelly Holmes, who joined the WRAC aged 17 as a physical training instructor.
At Remembrance time 2018, BBC Radio 5 Live invited two of the charity’s Members to the studio to tell their own stories, and even take calls from listeners. This was a rare chance to spend two hours on air conveying their mission to support other women, which resulted in other women coming forward to join the Association: mission accomplished!
The WRAC Association provides camaraderie and support for its members, and offers grants to women in times of hardship. This was highlighted by a special report for Channel 4 News – ‘Meet The Forgotten Women Veterans’ in response to the hardship campaign we ran in the media. This sensitively handled report highlights the specific challenges women face after leaving The Army, and the lack of support available to them.
In 2019, we launched the charity’s book, ‘100 Wonderful Women’ at the National Army Museum: a centenary celebration featuring accounts of a hundred pioneering army women, whose work helped carve out new roles for their peers 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.
At the start of 2020 we announced that Britain’s oldest female veteran, Anne Robson, had died, aged 108. Her contribution and “fiercely independent spirit” were celebrated in headlines around the world in titles such as Mail Online, BBC News (TV & Online), Fox News, The Scotsman, and elsewhere. Shortly afterwards, we launched the ‘Find Our O.A.T.s’ campaign to find other such women. This resulted in a popular article, ‘Do you know Britain’s oldest female veteran? published in The Express, and new women came forward to join the charity.
Then, on May 8th, despite the coronavirus lockdown, the nation marked the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe – VE Day. It was a rare moment which saw people take to their front gardens at a safe distance to honour our eldest veterans. Our team worked hard to secure interviews in multiple publications such as The Times, and arranged interviews with the help of carers, families and TV producers to secure a 3-way interview on BBC Breakfast (TV) between the reporter, Betty Webb MBE and 102 year old Molly Francis, who spoke lucidly from her care home in typically confident tones. Broadcaster, Lorraine, also interviewed Betty on the auspicious day, and Betty made it onto the cover of iconic magazine, National Geographic, in June 2020.
Our next mission? Gaining recognition for women who served as part of rehabilitation of brave men and women around VJ Day three quarters of a century ago. It is a true honour for our team get these women’s stories told all these years later.