V.E.DAY 70 Swansea

Swansea Branch members Penny Taylor & Celia Saywell attended a windswept coastal event for the lighting of the V.E.DAY 70 Beacon in the company of local dignitaries and military representatives. Good to see two members of the Swansea University Royal Naval Unit there and spread the word!  

Centenary of Falkland Is. Battle

The Chairman Carol Gibbon represented the Association at the service commemorating the Battle of Coronel and the Falklands 100th Anniversary held at St. Martin-in-the-fields on 8th December 2014. She laid a wreath on behalf of the Association.

AOW Carol Service & Festivities 2014

Over 160 members gathered at our wonderful Wrens' church - St Mary Le Strand on Saturday 8th December for the annual Carol Service. The Officiant for the service was The Reverend Scott Brown CBE QHC RN, chaplain of the Fleet. At the begininning of his address he mentioned that officiating at our 90th celebrations in 2010, at St Martins-in-the Fieds was in the first month of his appointment and now during his last month of the four year period he was very pleased to meet with the Association of Wrens again!

Fundraising Christmas Dinner 2014

What an evening!!  This annual event was held for the first time in the Union Jack Club.  Seventy two members, including a few guests, sat down to an outstanding meal, served by cheerful and helpful staff - who hope that we will come back again next year, despite the ever increasing decibel level as friends and colleagues enjoyed being together!  The tables were laid with crackers and Happy Christmas confetti in the Gascoigne Suite, which was bedecked with holly wreaths and a beautiful Christmas tree.  The setting was lovely, the friendships evident and the laughter resounding and the wine

Association of Wrens Remembrance 2014

The AOW contingent at the Cenotaph Parade was led by WO1 Barbara McGregor R.N., who joined the W.R.N.S. in 1977, transferred to the R.N. in 1993, and is currently the Regional Development Manager (Operations) Naval Regional Headquarters Wales and Western England. Barbara can occasionally be found visiting the Swansea Branch of AOW.

Rear Admiral recommends R.N women!

At the first Association AGM to be held at the Union Jack Club, on 25th October 2014, we were delighted to welcome Dame Marion Kettlewell, Senior Vice President, who celebrated her 100th birthday, earlier this year. Many members had travelled from various areas to the AGM to hear Anthea Larken CBE, AOW President's tribute to Mary Hawthornthwaite, retiring Chairman, in appreciation of her worthy service to the Association over the past three years. The new Chairman, Carol Gibbon, elected at the recent Trustees meeting was named and the handover of the offical Badge of Office took place.

Carol Gibbon elected as the new Chairman

Carol Gibbon - I served in the WRNS from 1967-77 as a Wren Radio Operator, HMS Heron, HMS Rooke, Gibraltar, HMS Seahawk, and as P.O. Instructor at HMS Mercury, before working for CICNAVHOME at Ft. Southwick. I was the National Standard Bearer for a period of 10 years and am currently the Treasurer and Standard Bearer for Swindon Branch. My husband David served 40 years in the RN and I have two sons and three grand daughters. In my spare time I play tennis.

Sam Mundell - honoured to be 'On Watch'

Sam Mundell (Kelly)  WRO1 1989-1996) was selected by the RBL to undertake ‘Watchkeeper Duty’ on Thursday 23 October during the sunrise to sunset watch at the Cenotaph in central London (7.38am to 5.51pm) which marks the start of the annual Poppy Appeal. She was ‘on watch'’ from 1030-11am with her great-grandfather's, and cousin’s WWI medals, together with a photo of her late father, who served in WWII.  

Party sing-along with the President!

Andrea Wrigley reports that members of Ruislip Branch took up an invitation recently from the Not Forgotten Association to attend a concert at the Phyllis Club Henley. "We arrived not knowing what to expect but had a very enjoyable afternoon hosted by (AOW President) Anthea Larken, wearing her President of the Not Forgotten Assoc. hat. The show was both amusing and poignant; it paid tribute to those who served in the First World War, and we were all soon singing along to the tunes. Following the show we were treated to an excellent high tea.

Website Attracts New Members

Since the launch of the new-look website on the 15th July, we’ve experienced a huge increase in the number of Membership applications,20% of which came via facebook, and we are delighted to welcome all the new members to the Association.

The website is a great opportunity for all members to share their stories of times past as well as recent events. An active website shows an active Association and we want you to help us with your contributions.

Looking for 'Wrens in Camera'

BBC Arts Television would like to get in touch with any WWII Wrens who had their picture taken by the famous photographer Lee Miller for ‘Wrens In Camera’, published by Jarrold & Sons Ltd. of Norwich, 1945 (republished and available recently from Services Wrendered).

Fun and Friendship at Warwick!

The National Reunion brought over 250 members from Canada (2) USA (1) France (3) Spain (2) & the UK (including twelve Veteran WWII Wrens) to the Warwick Uni. Campus on 8th - 10th August 2014. The weekend had something for everyone, a Sales stall, coach trips to the National Memorial Arboretum or Warwick Castle, slide shows & archive films, displays & photo boards of Wrens and RN women from WW1 to the present day. We had quizzes, an auction & raffle, discos each night, and quiet areas for relaxing & reminiscing.

Wren artist at HMS Cabbala & Eaglet

On 8th July 2014 - a group of AOW members accepted an invitation for a conducted tour to see WWII Wren Gladys E.

MBE for popular member

The Association was thrilled when Mrs Celia Joan Mary Saywell was awarded the MBE in the Queen's  2013 birthday honours. The award recognises the  work that Celia has done for the Association over many years, especially in her role as Public Relations Officer.  Among her achievements Celia has been responsible for the Association's splendid website.  

It was very fitting was that the presentation was made by HRH the Princess Royal, the Patron of the Association.

Congratulations Celia.


Chrissie Hughes will still give us a wave!

Chrissie who until late July 2013 was the Assistant Secretary for AOW is still working in Semaphore Tower but our colleagues at the RNA will now have the benefit of her ready smile, helpful service, and probably her sponge cakes as well!

Chrissie joined the WRNS in 1986 as a Wren Writer, then L/Wren Regulator, local Acting MAA (RNSIB) and a final appointment to the RN Police at Portsmouth Provost HQ making a total of 25 years service! 

Carol cuts the York celebration cake

Carol Gibbon AOW Vice Chair cutting the York Branch 35th anniversary cake during the celebration weekend in May 2013 when once again the York Wrens' Anniversary Players (or as they are known, York Wrens Sods' Opera) excelled themselves. 

Imagine if you will, a ballet troupe wearing tutus and wellies, Rose Marie serenaded by her Mountie, a chorus line 7 soloists, flamboyant 'Morris' dancers, and a musical monologue 'I joined the Wrens' complete with 'medical', and a very pusser PO Wren.

WWII Veteran Stella Passey revisits the BOA War Rooms

BBC TV Manchester assistant director Peter Trollope met with a group of WWII veteran Association of Wrens members at their weekly Tea Dance club. The resulting programme introduced by Peter Sissons included Stella Passey reliving her daily journey from WRNS quarters to the War Office in Derby House where she worked in the Confidential Document Rooms.  Post-war Wren Margaret Wall who accompanied Stella to the location noticed that the two WRNS Officer models at Derby House doorway had ladders in their tights – not even stockings, brass buttons, and a blue killick anchor on one sleeve.

Deacon Heather Aston wears the WRNS crest

Heather Aston was ordained as Deacon on Friday 28th June in Truro Cathedral by Bishop Tim Thornton, and will serve in the benefice of Meneage. She was amongst the last course of sixteen WRNS Officers Under Training to Pass Out at the Royal Naval College Greenwich on 8 July 1976. 

Heather, who joined the WRNS in 1972, was presented with a gift of a green stole embroidered with the WRNS Crest from all the members of that course, and was delighted when she realised she could wear it on Sunday at her first Eucharist.

CWO1 Annette Penfold RNR honoured at Buckingham Palace

Annette pictured with her family at Buckingham Palace after being presented with her MBE award by HRH The Prince of Wales, in June 2013.  Annette was the first female Command Warrant Officer RNR and is well known for her role as Parade Marshall for the AOW contingent at the annual Cenotaph Parade.

Ex Wrens & RN women dine aboard HMS Victory

On 18 May members of the Solent Branch and two honoured guests, President Anthea Larken CBE and Chairman Mary Hawthornthwaite arrived for an evening of celebrations on board HMS Victory, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Branch. 

"How honoured we all felt that we were going to be dining on this very special ship with all of its history."