|Description||With the sudden death of WVS/WRVS Founder Chairman Lady Reading, in May 1971, the charity faced a period of unrest where it became evident that there would need to be many changes to organisation and administration, some of which older members might perhaps regret or not understand. The WRVS therefore, created the WVS/WRVS Association in March 1973 which was a nationwide scheme to unite those retired or semi retired members who had given loyal service to WVS/WRVS over the years with those who were still actively working within the charity.|
The Association had a central office in WRVS Headquarters in London, which then moved to Bootham Road, York, finally settling in rented offices in Priory Street Centre, 15 Priory Street, York where it would stay until its closure on the 26th July 2013. Retired/semi retired WVS/WRVS members were eligible to join the Association if they had served five or more years with WRVS. Other volunteers who were interested in joining but have not given this much service could apply and would be considered by the Association Committee.
The Association formed a friendly link between past and present members of WVS/WRVS, providing them with up to date information about the charity and bringing together local groups, not only to remember the past, but to keep in touch with old friends through reunions and events. After the WRVS Magazine was discontinued in December 1974 the Association began to compile its own newsletter which was distributed to members twice a year, and became known as 'Association News', with the first issue published in January 1975. Members would then receive a newsletter twice a year from the Association, plus the benefit of the Benevolent Trust if needed. In order to distribute the newsletters on time, stuffing parties were arranged where Association members would organise the newsletter for posting. As well as receiving the newsletters and attending local events, a Reunion and Annual General Meeting were held in a different part of the country each year for all Association members to attend.
The first general meeting was held on the 9th January 1974 with 24 members attending. Dame Francis Clode (Chairman of WRVS) chaired the meeting and Miss Kathleen Halpin CBE, formerly chief Regional Administrator of WRVS, was elected as the founding Chairman of the Association. Miss Halpin held this position until the tenth annual meeting in June 1983 when a constitution was adopted decreeing that a chairman should not hold office for more than three consecutive years. At the first general meeting Mrs Harris was elected as Honourable Secretary and Miss Hamilton as Honourable Treasurer.
The Committee consisted of:
Mrs J. Haines BEM
Miss J E Tate MBE
Mrs Houghton OBE
Mrs J Sich
It was decided that subscription for membership would be £1 annually, of which 50p went to the WRVS Magazine, with life membership being £10. By 1978 the Association had 1,000 members; with Mrs Jennings being the 1,000 member to be enrolled in the Association. By the 10th June 1987 the Association had 4,000 members. In March 1986 annual subscriptions went up to £1.50 and from the 1st July 1989 life membership increased from £10 to £15. Finally, on the 1st April 1998 annual subscriptions were increased to £5 in conjunction with the discontinuation of life membership which would now not be available to new members.
The first reunion of the Association was held at Hans place, London, 4th July 1974, when more than 100 members met and talked with Baroness Pike the new Chairman of WRVS.
In terms of the structure of the Association, The Chairman of WRVS was the Associations President and together with the Chairman of the Association they appointed the Treasurer and Secretary. The Chairman of the Association was elected each year at the AGM.
The Committee consisted of: the Association Chairman, the Treasurer, the Secretary, and a Representative of each WRVS Division and no more than two Association members representatives. These Association members representatives were elected annually by members at the Annual General Meeting. The Committee could appoint people to be the Vice Presidents of the Association if this was felt necessary. The Association members elected would serve for three years. The Committees first meeting was held on the 26th February 1974 and the last on the 6th October 2012.
The Association had Area Representatives in Scotland, Wales and all regions/areas. An Area Representative had to be a member of the Association and was appointed by the WRVS Area Organiser concerned in consolation with the Chairman of the Association. Their role was to keep in touch with WRVS Area Organisers so that they kept up to date with current WRVS activities and could also relay information about any Association reunions being organised. Area Representatives also organised reunions and social events, which were invaluable, especially to those members who could not travel to London or further afield for annual meetings and reunions. In 1993 there were divisional structural changes within the WRVS and the Association, feeling that it should follow the present structure of the WRVS, started to use Divisional Representatives in place of Area Representative to cover the Counties in the new WRVS divisional structure.
The appointment of an Association Divisional Representative was made after the consultation between the Chairman of the Association and the appropriate WRVS Divisional Director. The Association Divisional Representative was an ex-officio member of the committee and served indefinitely, receiving full voting powers. Their duties included:
- Ensuring that they obtain, annually, a simple statement of account from each County/Branch/Group.
- Organising reunions and other social events in their division and arranging an annual gathering of members. Such meetings can take place in Members houses, WRVS offices, by kind permission of WRVS Organiser concerned or, if necessary in hired halls.
- Visiting local groups and speaking briefly about the work of the Association at meetings.
There were also Association County Representatives who were appointed by the Divisional Representative (previously Area Representative) in consultation with the WRVS Association Chairman. Their task was to ensure that they kept up to date with current WRVS work and in turn inform the WRVS of any Association activities.
As membership rapidly increased in Scotland, consideration was given to the formation of independent Group of Scottish members. The first meeting of the Scottish section was finally held 12th July 1979, with Veronica Crabbie (past chairman of WRVS Scotland) as its first chairman.
In 1995 the 'WVS/WRVS Association' became known as the 'WRVS Association', a legal part of the WRVS, with the added commitment to maintain contact with and give all possible help to members as they inevitably grew older.
The last AGM and Reunion in York was on the 06/10/2012 with a final reunion event in 2013, this being the 40th year of the Association and the 75th year of the WRVS. Membership at the closure of the Association stood at 1592.