Celebrating 100 years of the Wrens

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Royal Naval Service, and to tie in with this special event, Blind Veterans UK is reaching out to WRNS veterans who are eligible for our support.

Founded in November 1917, the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS or Wrens) was the women’s branch of the Royal Navy up until 1993 when it was integrated with the Royal Navy.

Blind Veterans UK currently supports over 120 former Wrens and estimates that there could be as many as 2,500 Wrens in the UK eligible for our support, most of whom do not know about the charity.

This year we are reaching out to these former Wrens now battling severe sight loss.

Current and past service women  - large group shot during Women#s military week at Brighton

"We would encourage all vision-impaired Wrens, and other veterans, to get in touch with Blind Veterans UK and find out how they can help."
Royal Navy Commander Ally Pollard

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Blind Veterans UK beneficiaries and former Wrens enjoyed a special lunch to celebrate a 100 years since the formation of the WRNS

The lunch was part of our first Women’s Military Week. This is a time where we treat our female veterans to a week of fun activities celebrating their time serving in the WRNS, the Women’s Royal Army Corps (or ATS) and the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force).

The lunch was to raise awareness of Blind Veterans UK research, which shows there are approximately 2500 blind Wrens alive today, most of whom are not currently receiving the charity’s free services and support.

Commander Ally Pollard, a serving member of the Royal Navy who attended the event said:

“We were delighted to join in the special event at Blind Veterans UK’s Brighton centre to celebrate 100 years of the WRNS and all women who have served in the Armed Forces. It was incredible to hear stories from the Wrens about the difference Blind Veterans UK has made, helping them to enjoy a life beyond sight loss.”

As well as the lunch, our blind veterans enjoyed a range of activities including a visit to Tangmere Aviation Museum, a special performance from the Royal Logistical Corps band, and arts and crafts. They were joined in this by star of community channel’s Crafty Beggars, Nigel May, who helped the ladies decorate the 2500 foam figures, to signify the ‘missing’ Wrens who may be struggling with sight loss, and who their fellow Wrens are now encouraging to come forward for support.

Neil doing art with blind veteran WRNS
One of our weeks attending blind veterans was Lorna Cockayne. Lorna aged 92 is a former Wren who lost her sight due to macular degeneration. She has been supported by our Blind Veterans UK since October 2016.

"Blind Veterans UK has given me my independence again. They’ve given me so much help and equipment. It’s brilliant."
Blind veteran Lorna

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