Mayor honours heroines of the home front

Annual Canvass

Twelve local women who undertook vital war work during World War Two shared their experiences with the Mayor of Eastbourne at a special event.

The Mayor, Councillor Gill Mattock, paid tribute to their important contribution at the Women in Wartime Reception she hosted at the Town Hall as part of her ongoing celebration of Inspirational Women.

She said: “I thoroughly enjoyed speaking to these heroines of the home front who carried out crucial wartime work including everything from Land Army Girls to working at Bletchley Park, where top-secret codebreakers were based. Their stories were truly inspirational.”

The women – including two centenarians and the rest were in their 90s – were June Sorensen, who was in the Women’s Land Army; Olive Woodall, an Air Raid Precautions messenger in Brighton who also worked in a factory making medical supplies; Nancy Hookham, a Wren (Women’s Royal Navy Service) who worked at Bletchley Park; Doreen Hurt, a Wren; Norma Lavender, a Wren who carried out aircraft maintenance; Nora Hurden, who served in the Women’s Auxilliary Air Force (WAAF), worked in a balloon barrage factory and later at Bletchley Park; Bonnie Beck, of the Women’s Land Army; Colonel Rachel Mary Green who had a background in medicine, then served in the military and had adventures all over Europe; Harriet Collins, who lived with her husband on Bullock Down Farm at Beachy Head where they were herdsmen – milking, rearing calves and farming generally; Irene Gilby, a driver for the Senior Fire Officer at Central Croydon Station who also worked in a munitions factory; Grace Rogers, who drove Army lorries; and Gwendoline Newberry, who worked for the London Fire Brigade.

Also in attendance was Deputy Lord Lieutenant Sarah Kowitz who added her own thanks for their contribution.

Katherine Buckland, of the borough council’s heritage team, was also on hand to record the women’s experiences for the archive so that their stories will not be lost.

The Mayor’s next Inspirational Women Cream Tea will take place at the Town Hall on Saturday, 2 February, and will feature guest speaker Scarlett McNally, consultant orthopaedic surgeon. Tickets cost £10 and are available from Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre or Please contact the Mayor’s Office for further information: [email protected] or 01323 415022.


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