Message from the Chairman

I and Chris, our events Trustee met with our previous Padre a few months ago when restrictions were first lifted and we discussed the format for today. His actual words to me were “ Your piece should be light hearted and amusing” I am still unsure how I make the history of the Association amusing but I will do my best. I was in fact reminded of Padre John’s words just 2weeks ago when I was at the National Memorial Arboretum. It was the opening of the Remembrance Glade and it was raining. We were inside a gazebo and seated at small tables . I was sitting with the Chair of the Army Widows’ Association, the Chair of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Widows Association and a lecturer from a local university. When we introduced ourselves to him, his face fell and you could see that he was thinking “ oh no, widows, this is going to be awful” after a very short time though we had him laughing and I hope we changed his view on the weeping widow for all time.

Of course there is a serious side to our Association. For a start it is one of which no one wants to be a full member. To be a full member means your partner has died due to his/her military service.
If we go back in time 50 years to when LauraConnelly refused to pay tax on her war widows pension. It was a very different time. There were no home computers or mobile phones. The country was just getting used to working in decimal currency. I was at university and really enjoying life without many serious thoughts in my head. Laura was so angry about the tax situation that she took on the inland revenue and I can only say “how brave she was” . This was not how widows were meant to behave! Laura contacted a newspaper and as they say “ the rest is history “ .a small group of ladies formed the Association and in 1972 they held their first AGM. There were 14 members and the first Chairman was Jill Gee. By constantly battling, these ladies found partial success in in 1976 when 50% of the tax was removed and then in 1979 the remaining 50% was removed. Well done to Laura and that first group of ladies.
The Association has grown and has achieved more and more for the widows which it represents. It added Remembrance and Caring to its remit of campaigning and it retains those3 pillars today.
I have here one of the first Constitutions and Rules, borrowed from the archive. It is dated 1974 and it states it’s Objects to be:The principal object of the Association is to relieve the suffering and distress of or supply the needs and comforts of women who are the widows of servicemen killed in or as a result of war and who are affected by the wars or acts of aggression to which the War Charities Act 1940 applies and a secondary object is to take such action from time to time as the Committee of the Association shall think fit to improve the economic circumstances of such women generally.

50 years of the War Widows Association

50 years of the War Widows Association

We are at this very moment working on a new constitution which we hope to present to our members very soon. Our objects in 2021 are:
To improve the conditions of war widows and war widowers and the dependents of those who served in the United Kingdom Armed Forces and may be encountering difficulties.

So really our objectives remain constant even although the language is more modern.
The nature of the problems have changed and of course we have war widowers these days but the Association remains as steadfastly true to its roots as is possible in this constantly changing world. To be able to offer friendship to someone in their darkest of times is so important. Our Remembrance week end is vital to so many and was greatly missed last year.

It all started with a campaign about the War Widows’ Pension and guess what we are still fighting the Government about pensions today only this time it is for fairness and equality for those who have remarried or cohabited before 2015. It would be funny if it were not so sad.

I have to say a huge”thank you” to everyone who is helping to keep our campaign in the public eye. To do Our President and VicePresidentS who never let a chance go by without mentioning the ridiculousness of being able to have your pension reinstated if you divorce your second husband leaving you able to then remarry him again and keep that pension for life. To all of our members who contact their MP and others in Government on our behalf. To the six brave ladies who recently accompanied me to the Daily Telegraph and told their story once again. Some of those stories were published last Sunday along with a piece from The Archbishop of Canterbury and quotes from Dr Julian Lewis, Mary Moreland and myself.
To all the past Chairman, Trustees and regional organisers I thank you for your hard work in ensuring that our members have an Association which works tirelessly to improve their lives and for giving them a safe place to be themselves.
We now have an online petition for our latest campaign and I hope that everyone of you will sign it and spread the word about it. What would Laura Connelly be thinking about an online petition? It is just the modern way of doing what she did by writing to the newspapers 50 years ago and seeking support.

At long last I am getting around to my own funny stories which happened before I became a widow while my husband was still alive.

We were living in Fort Leavenworth in Kansas in America. Not in one of the 7 prisons which they have there but in a very nice house in the fort / camp on the banks of the Missoura river. One day I had a phone call from a teacher in one of the military schools in the fort. She said that she had been teaching her class about the UK all term and would I come and talk to them about the British tradition of afternoon tea? I was a bit taken aback by the subject matter but agreed to go along anyway and was just thankful that I could do some research about afternoon tea on the internet. The teacher then asked if I could bring some visual aids from England to show the class. Without really thinking I explained that I was Scottish and could bring some Scottish v/a if she wanted but I didn’t have anything English. She then said “ oh, I just thought being married to the British liaison officer that you would be British too” I told her that I was British but was born and brought up in Scotland. She was definitely confused by the end of the call when she asked if the people in Scotland also drank tea? When my husband came home I asked him to phone the Embassy in Washington and to get me a map of the UK. I turned up to give the talk along with my map and when I was taken into the Hall I found all the parents there as well as the children. The parents had all served in Europe, had all visited the UK and all knew that it consisted of England, Wales, Scotland and NI. Only the teacher needed to see the map!
My second story happened when we lived in Zimbabwe. Although based in Harare my husband also covered Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. One day he received a message from a tribal Chief in Zambia. The message read “ the Chief requires a new coat” My husband had been asked many weird and wonderful things over the years but this was a first. He contacted London and was eventually told that one of this Chief’s ancestors had been given a coat by our King for helping with some uprising. On being presented with the military style coat the chief was also given a letter saying that this original coat would be replaced when necessary by the British head of state. Nowhere in the defence attaché budget was there money for anew coat.
However undaunted the next time we were in London my husband went to Gieves and Hawkes with the chiefs measurements. G&H searched their stores and found in a basement a Naval officers frock coat. They said that if my husband could pay for extra bling to be added he could have the coat. A couple of months later we set out for the Chiefs village with the coat. We drove as far as we could and then were transported the last bit in very small boats. Our arrival was to be the start of a ceremony like no other. The villagers sang, danced and ate while the chief showed off his new coat and a hat with feathers to all. I hope it is many years before another new coat is asked for.

To launch our 50th Anniversary year we have created a cook book with the help of our lovely members and supporters.

To help us with costs, we ask for a contribution of £5 per copy plus £2 postage and packing (per book) it makes an ideal Mother’s Day, Easter present or just an little treat for yourself.

With the fascinating stories that accompany the recipes it’s a really good read too. Here are some snippets …..

Order your book today to match the quote to the recipe!

I hope you enjoy it with a cup of tea or a glass of Spanish sherry!

A very easy and delicious recipe typical of Virginia Beach where we were living.

Since then it is known in our house as Jungle Cake.

There was no chance of a goodnight kiss that night.

At the end of the evening he took his shirt off and gave it to his friend.

When you try me recipe bow ties are optional.

To order please contact our remembrance secretary on in the first instance, then click the buttons below as directed.

Emails to for more information.

Send a Cheque to

Remembrance – War Widows’ Association of Great Britain
PO Box 29265
KY12 2FH

What we are about

The War Widows’ Association of Great Britain was formed in 1971 becoming a registered charity in 1991 and has developed into the United Kingdom’s leading representative organisation for widow(er)s of Armed Forces Personnel where death has been caused by or hastened by service. Everything that we do is based around our 3 core values….


Campaigning is the foundation of the War Widows’ Association; the Association has managed many successful campaigns to improve the conditions of War Widows and War Widowers.



We care by signposting members to the appropriate help and through our network of Regional Organisers we offer friendship and support.



Remembrance, the third pillar of the War Widows’ Association is a very important part of its programme of events.

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