Kate Adie with a ‘Great War at Fairlynch’ deckchair designed by 10-year-old pupil Charlie at St Peter’s Church of England Primary School. “It’s the first time I’ve been photographed with a deckchair,” she admitted.
Kate Adie OBE, DL, the Corporation’s chief news correspondent in the late eighties, has reported from war zones around the world. Her latest book, Fighting on The Home Front, examines the legacy of women in the 1914-18 world conflict. Her talk in St Peter’s Church on Sunday 21 September, the last day of the Literary Festival, provided a well illustrated insight into the way in which women’s contribution to the war effort helped to overcome outdated prejudices about their role in society.
From driving trams to nursing on the front line, from delivering mail to making munitions, women performed groundbreaking functions that would steadily lead to female emancipation, even though they would have to wait a further frustrating ten years after the war before receiving the vote. Not until 1928 did the Representation of the People Act provide equal suffrage for men and women.
The work was far from glamorous, and frequently dangerous, evidenced with that photo of a lonely ploughwoman or the shocking accounts of fatalities and illness in the munitions factories. Yet Kate Adie’s story was an inspiring one, including the history of the brave women of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry formed as early as 1907.
Click here to read how, a few months ago, a nine-year-old Budleigh schoolgirl was similarly inspired by the story of the FANY volunteer who died in France on 24 August 1918. Eveline Fidgeon Shaw, whose family lived at Rosehill on Budleigh Salterton’s West Hill, was awarded the Croix de Guerre avec palme for her service with the French Red Cross. “A volunteer driver of devotion and courage beyond all praise,” was how the official citation described her. “She exerted herself selflessly, completely disdaining danger and fatigue, whilst carrying out evacuations, often in difficult circumstances and under enemy air attacks. She died as a result of a contagion illness contracted in the course of duty.”
Joyce Dennys studied at Exeter Art College before serving as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse from 1914 to 1917. The above poster is one of her best known wartime works
Joyce Dennys' WRNS poster dates from around 1918
This was Kate Adie’s first ever visit to Budleigh Salterton. Let’s hope that she will be inspired to come again. She had an enthusiastic audience. She was intrigued by those deckchairs. And of course she will have been impressed that Budleigh was the home town of Joyce Dennys, whose wartime recruitment posters must have done so much to inspire women and to aid the cause of female emancipation.
‘The Great War at Fairlynch’ 2015 exhibition at Budleigh Salterton’s very special museum! Reviews included: “Wonderful display on WW1, informative, bright and relevant. Well done!!