Catholic Women’s League raises £81,210.73 for ‘Help for Heroes’

  David Gammell from Help for Heroes receives cheque from Doreen Pooley

David Gammell from Help for Heroes receives cheque from Doreen Pooley

For the past 12 months members of the Catholic Women’s League of England and Wales have been raising funds for the National President’s Project.  A year ago members listened to a talk from David Gammell of ‘Help for Heroes’ and naval Chaplain Mgr Paul Donovan, who has served in Afghanistan, on the work of the charity.  This inspired them to encourage friends, families and parishioners to raise as much money as they could for this very worthwhile cause.  The result is a total sum of £81,210.73 which is being presented to ‘Help for Heroes’ at the League National AGM in Southport on Saturday 23 October.

Helping servicemen and women and victims of war is well established practice in the Catholic Women’s League;  in fact some members have worn uniform in the two World Wars forming the Corps of the Catholic Women’s League under the auspices of the Council for Voluntary Welfare Work.  During World War I members helped Belgian refugees in particular, supported by their common faith.  The League opened Canteens (referred to as Huts) for service personnel with the first one in Boulogne in northern France followed by others in France and England.  Spiritual welfare was provided by the members as well as food and leisure facilities.

At the end of World War I in 1918 the League tried to support some of the ruined villages and churches in Europe.  The Huts were donated to local communities to be used as Mass centres in bombed out areas. Also vestments and altar items were provided for use in churches which were still standing.  During World War II many members helped with the placement of evacuees.  The National President at the time resigned to become a naval surgeon.  Canteens and Huts were restored and more were acquired, situated all over the world from Belgium to Burma and Iceland to Singapore.  By the end of the War there were 81 in operation.  One Hut and Chapel was at Studley Roger near Ripon in Yorkshire.  A wayside shrine now marks the spot where it stood and each year CWL members lay a wreath in honour of the servicemen who used the hut.  It has become an officially recognised war memorial to those who lost their lives in the two World Wars. Another Hut was on a site next Westminster Cathedral in London where St Paul’s bookshop is today.

To this day League members still help needy service and ex-service personnel and their families, usually in the form of small grants.  In the present time with conflicts around the world members continue to help refugees and asylum seekers in this country.   The help is generally in the form of small grants or essential small household items.  League National Presidents serve a three year term and in her final year the President is asked to nominate a charity of her choice for members to support with fundraising.  This year outgoing President Mrs Doreen Pooley chose ‘Help for Heroes’ which has attracted widespread public support across the country accounting for the splendid total of £81,210.73 raised.

Tags: Catholic Women's League of England and Wales, David Gammell of E098Help for Heroes', Mgr Paul Donovan, National President's Project

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