Having joined up in the 70s and 80’s and never having served together during our time in the Wrens, who would have thought that an ex PO Wren (Education) and a Third Officer (PSO) would start a small business ‘Creative Toppers’ together making and selling bespoke cake topper decorations at a time in our lives when we thought retirement was imminent!
As an Education Wren Maureen Tomlinson (nee Mathias 1976-1982) joined up at Dauntless where she managed the distinction of slipping on the main building floor (which she had polished on numerous occasions!) and breaking her arm on her last day. Her training continued at HMS Pembroke (she was driven there in a staff car!) then onto HMS Nelson before arriving at HMS Daedalus (picture shows her in the Daedalus Library with LWren Suzanne Jones (nee Gibbons) as a fully trained Education Wren. From Daedalus she went on to serve at HMS Dolphin, RNH Haslar and completed her time at HMS Sultan.
Susan Wilson (nee Moorwood 1981-1983) meanwhile joined Dauntless as a Direct Entry Wren. She went to HMS Osprey for four months for an ‘Introduction to the Navy’ before going on to her Third Officer Training course at BRNC. She completed her Naval Psychologist course in London before her appointment to HMS Raleigh working with Fisgard Squadron. Then onto HMS Wembury and back to HMS Raleigh working in the Personnel Selection Department. On 9th January 2016 she celebrated the 35-year reunion of Theseus 295 Division HMS Dauntless in which 17 out of the original 19 Wrens met for a fabulous weekend.
Maureen and Susan’s paths crossed in 1996 when Maureen had set up a business in Fareham ‘Cakecraft’ selling celebration cakes and teaching cake icing. She employed two apprentices from JA Training – and Susan was responsible for looking after them. After a few years, Maureen sold her business and went to work for JA Training as a Retail NVQ Assessor and worked alongside Susan.
A few years later both find themselves working for a Southampton charity, Solent EBP, providing opportunities for young people at school across South West Hampshire to work with local employers. This was to be their final job before retirement – however, the Government raised the retirement age and then…the charity went into liquidation.
So, it was back to the drawing board! Not certain that another employer would want us (or that we would want to work for someone else) we pulled on our past skills with ‘cakes’ and set up Creative Toppers, an online ‘Edible Printers’ providing completely edible cake topper decorations in either Premium Wafer Paper or Icing and printed with edible inks. Photographs have proved to be very popular and we are often asked for ‘one off’ requests – customers send us the image and we print it! We also have a large stock of ready-made toppers available on our Website. We have had to quickly learn about ‘Social Media’ as a marketing tool and have considerably improved our computer skills but we are gradually making it happen! Our days are now spent in our office coming up with new ideas; making toppers for our customers, networking and supporting local school fairs.
We love working with the Association of Wrens and are delighted to be given permission to promote the Wrens100 Crest. We have both been overwhelmed by the response that Ex Wrens have shown us for ‘getting our name out there’ and are particularly grateful to Rita Sayers for her support.