Hats and Huts: Ladies of the YMCA

Hats and Huts: Ladies of the YMCA On Saturday June 2nd 2018 Sue McGeever gave an illustrated talk on a subject that had long fascinated her. She reminded us that the organisation, that is symbolised by the famous red triangle, was founded in London in 1844. Within ten years its influence had spread worldwide. However it was the outbreak of WW1 when large numbers of women joined the organisation that gained Sue’s interest that she decided to carry out research on the topic. Thousands of women from mainly middle class backgrounds volunteered to work in the ‘recreation huts’ that were set up in Britain as well as at the Front in Belgium and France.

In 1914, 40,000 of these women of means provided home comforts for soldiers who found temporary reprieve from the battle field. At these ‘refreshment huts’ Tommies would be provided with hot drinks, newspapers, stationery for letters home, games equipment and even the odd concert. Sue highlighted her talk with reference to individual women who served at the Front. One in particular, Betty Stevenson from Harrogate, died from shrapnel wounds at the age of 21. She was awarded the Croix de Guerre and given a military funeral. She is also commemorated in her home town with a large wooden memorial at Christ Church. Many members found Sue’s talk exceedingly interesting especially as so little is known about the subject.

Next meeting on July 7th 2018 is the AGM followed by a talk by Jackie Depelle on ‘Ideas for researching your Non-Conformist ancestors.’