Hilda Dillwyn French
Daughter of the Reverend C.J. Valpy-French of St. David’s Exeter
1915 – 1919 : Northampton Hut, Aldershot (for which awarded MBE in 1920)
In her own words “Received MBE for Voluntary Service 1914-1919 in the Northampton Soldier’s Recreation Hut and Canteen under the Aldershot Command. Besides catering for some 500 men in the Services we were there to offer sympathetic help and friendship, wherever it might be needed and what a heaven given opportunity it was to give of one’s very best, for these men were on the brink of going to trench warfare, in Flanders, the majority never to return again. This experience at the age of 24 has inspired ones whole life and given one a real pattern to try to follow.”
1919 : Social work/clubs for Miners, Staffordshire (at the times of the Great Depression)
1919 : Church Army Canteen at Charleroi, Belgium
1919-1921 : BAOR and Church Army Canteens/Clubs – Cologne & Bonn. Billeted with a German family.
1921 (6 months) : During the Troubles in Ireland – Miss Sanders Soldiers’ Homes
1921-1923 : Return to BAOR & Church Army Canteens for Middlesex Regiment in Cologne
1924-1927 : YMCA Club & Canteen at Bovington Camp for Royal Tank Corps
“Desolate spot on hot parade ground. No sanitation, no water and a leaking roof over her bed”.
1927 (3 months) : “The Stand & Shears” Pub, Smithfield London (for the Promotion of Restaurant Public Houses in Poor Districts)
1928-1932 : Chauffeur to a Reverend of Fordingbridge (except for 3 months in Egpt 1928/1929
1932 -1939 : Teacher of Handicraft at HM Prison Exeter
1939 & 1940 : TocH Club & Canteen, Hostel for Services, Exeter
1940-1946 : Manager of Mayoress’ Canteen, St. David’s Station, Exeter
1948 : YMCA Lunch Club, Exeter
1951-1959 : WRVS Transport Officer for Exeter County Borough
1959-1970 : Council of Social Service (Exeter) Old People’s Welfare & Visitor
Royal Tank Regiment Old Comrades Association Supporter – London Branch.
Made the only Honorary Lady Member of Royal Tank Regiment Association London Branch