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WRNS100 - Naval Servicewomen and Wrens give pounds for the stone

14 June 2016
Naval Servicewomen, former Wrens, relatives and friends of women who have served in the Naval Service are responding generously to a fund-raising appeal to create a specially carved Commemorative stone to celebrate the centenary of the formation of the Women’s Royal Naval Service in 1917.

To launch the Commemorative Appeal, former Wrens joined forces with females serving today at the Naval Command Headquarters to illustrate the Appeal’s concept of donating at least £1 for every year of Service either in the WRNS or Royal Navy (post-1993) following the integration of females into the Service and its Reserve Forces.

The stone will feature the distinctive carved female uniform headwear; tri-corn and sailor’s caps, evolving over the past century to the styles worn today.

The WRNS100 Project Team has commissioned celebrated stonemason Robyn Golden-Hann from Andover who has produced an artist’s impression of how the Centenary Stone might look.

It marks the centenary of the formation of the Women’s Royal Naval Service, acknowledges the ground-breaking social changes that women in the military have achieved since 1917

Cdr Jane Allen RNR

Impressed by the Stone’s design concept, former senior female Naval Officer Commodore Annette Picton said: “This is a really inspired idea, the design is clever and so evocative of the era.

“I think people will really take notice of this stone once it is in place. I fully intend on being present when it is dedicated as part of the Centenary celebrations in 2017.” 

Annette’s long naval career spanned 31 years and she personifies the successful transition from Wren to Royal Navy Officer, starting out as an WRNS Cadet Entry Shorthand Writer, commissioning swiftly to Probationary Third Officer WRNS and going on specialise in the Supply and Secretariat roles, serving in Command Headquarters, in the MoD conducting Tri-Service Personnel Management while previously undertaking career appointments in female training establishments, RNC Greenwich, HMS Dauntless and transitioning across to WRNS Officer training at BRNC Dartmouth.

Also present at the launch was Pat Cadman (88) from Southsea (formerly Leading Wren Capewell) who served in the WRNS Supply Branch in the Stores Department at both HM Naval Base Chatham and HMS Vernon in Portsmouth (now Gunwharf Quays Shopping Centre) just after the Second World War in 1946 when the RN was de-mobbing thousands of “Hostilities-Only” enlisted personnel.

Pat said: “My memories of that time mainly feature counting crockery on board the T-class submarine HMS Tally-Ho!”

Despite the Wren’s motto being ‘Never at Sea’, Pat also enjoyed regularly going out to sea for the day on the minelayer HMS Plover undertaking Stores accounting work. Pat met her future husband, George, who was then serving as a PTI and she vividly remembers when she ran in Portsmouth Command Athletics competitions, winning a medal in the relay race.

Joining Pat and Annette in giving pounds towards the Commemorative Stone was fellow former Wren Radar Plotter Janet Crabtree, who was commissioned to Third Officer WRNS during her seven years of service since joining in 1973.

As an Officer, Janet undertook classified work in research for the Ministry of Defence. She recalled how she is still friends with those she worked alongside as a Wren rating and highlighted the camaraderie that still exists long after Wrens leave the Service.

Janet is a stalwart member of the Portsmouth Branch of the Association of Wrens and a keen supporter of the WRNS100 Centenary Project.

Representing the present Royal Navy and Royal Naval Reserve were Cdr Jane Allen RNR, the NCHQ Coordinator for WRNS100, Petty Officer Sam Kimberley, a naval reservist working for Commander Maritime Reserve and Leading Writer Heather Peprell, a Career Manager for the Seaman Specialisation in Portsmouth. 

Cdr Allen said: “This Stone really is a celebration of the female contribution to the Naval Service. 

"It marks the centenary of the formation of the Women’s Royal Naval Service, acknowledges the ground-breaking social changes that women in the military have achieved since 1917, and raises awareness of the breadth and wealth of opportunities for females in the Royal Navy today.

“I do hope that both those who have served and those who wish to contribute will dig out their pound coins, and notes, and donate towards this special stone which will provide a focal point in the grounds of Portsmouth Cathedral when it is unveiled in November 2017.”

Details of how to donate can be found online on the RN website: www.royalnavy.mod.uk/WRNS100  - find out more about the Centenary celebrations on www.WRNS100.co.uk       

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