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Charity’s Delight as Dame Vera Backs Land Girls Monument
2012-03-20

A small Scottish charity has expressed its surprise and delight on receiving backing from the revered singer, Dame Vera Lynn DBE, as it continues its work to create a monument to recognise the work of the Women’s Land Army.

"Without the hard work of the Land Army Girls, life would have been much harder than it was. "

Land Army Girls

The support of one of the nation’s most famous performers and one whose name is now inextricably linked with World War II is a real boost to the Land Army Memorial Scotland’s cause.

Work is well underway at the memorial’s site at Clochan, near Fochabers on land which was generously provided by the Crown Estate. The monument will take the form of a sculpture, designed by Yorkshire artist, Peter Naylor who won the Marsh prize for public sculpture in 2010 for his memorial to 158 squadron in Yorkshire.

The Trust has raised over £40,000 towards the project but all donations are still very gratefully received.

Dame Vera Lynn DBE said:

“How pleased I am to know that the women who were involved in WW2 have finally been recognised. Without the hard work of the Land Army Girls, life would have been much harder than it was.

“I met two of the girls some time ago, who actually worked on my Estate during the war.”

Jim McLaren, Chairman of the Land Army Memorial Trust said:

“We were surprised and delighted to receive Dame Vera Lynn’s tremendously generous backing for our project. It is quite touching to think that her moving and motivating songs will have been playing on the wireless and heard by the land girls in many farmhouses up and down the land while they occasionally took a very well earned break from their hard work on the farm.

“Until now, no permanent monument to the Land Girls’ achievements has been constructed. Many women received a commemorative medal from the UK Government in 2007, but LAMS believes that a public monument and the trust’s accompanying educational activities will help to ensure that the WLA’s extraordinary story is preserved forever.

“It is only in recent years that there has been a resurgence of interest for the vital work carried out by the women who worked the land in the great wars of the twentieth century. We are now making the most of a wonderful opportunity to ensure that the work of the land girls lives on.”

Before the outbreak of WWII Britain was importing seventy per cent of its food, around 55m tonnes each year. With the nation’s shipping routes under severe threat from its enemies, Britons would have starved if an alternative workforce were not found.

The WLA was established in 1917 by the UK Board of Agriculture, which drafted 20,000 women to work on the land. In WWII the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries overtook organisation of the WLA under the honorary leadership of Lady Denman. At its peak there were over 80,000 members of the WLA. It was disbanded in 1950.

In addition to helping to feed the nation, the Land Girls enabled the country’s farms to be kept in good working order during the wars. The lumberjills, whose efforts have already been commemorated at a site at Aberfoyle, produced timber for energy and manufacturing.

Following training, WLA members were expected to take part in every aspect of activity on the farm to which they were sent, including milking, lambing, shearing, planting, harvesting and operating all machinery. Their experiences varied; some have reported that despite the very hard work it was the happiest time of their lives, whereas for others it was a lonely experience, dogged by homesickness.

If you would like to donate money to the Land Girls Memorial Scotland or if you have any questions about the project, please call Sarah Anderson on 0131 472 4108 or email sarah.anderson@nfus.org.uk

Cheques should be made payable to Land Army Memorial Scotland and sent c/o Sarah Anderson to NFU Scotland, Rural Centre, West Mains, Ingliston, Newbridge, EH28 8LT.

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