[22 May 1953]
HASTINGS WAR BRIDES GRATEFUL TO BRITISH WOMEN’S CLUB
Hundreds of English war brides in Hastings and district are grateful to the vision of Mrs. Malcolm Mason, Havelock North convenor seven years ago of the British Women’s Club. They acknowledged their founder at a birthday party in Hastings recently.
In the first post-war years, there were problems enough for newly-arrived brides – a main one was housing – but their adjustment to new conditions was eased by the practical kindness of foundation members of the British Women’s Club, many of them First World War brides.
They helped with temporary accommodation, getting a young woman from boat to maternity hospital, and encouraging new arrivals to join the club to make friends.
For young brides who felt their isolation, there was a feeling of security in friendships with these older women. “It was always a comfort to see the older women look so settled and prosperous, and to know that what had happened to them would happen again to us.” said a former war bride, and now mother of three young children, yesterday.
Although the primary purpose of the newly-formed club was to welcome war brides from England, Scotland and the overseas Dominions, it had other roles. British-born women already in the district were entitled to join: and today new settlers from overseas get an equally warm welcome.
The question was asked recently “Has the club fulfilled its mission?” But its value to adopted New Zealanders were seen at the seventh birthday party. Among the guests were two women just arrived from England. And Englishwomen from throughout the Hastings district were present for that warm contact with other people from “home.”
“The club still has an important role,” said Mrs. J Sunley, a member of the executive. “We hope to give future arrivals as much help as we have received over the past few years.”
These women, now the “old-comers,” in helping the “new-comers” are fostering those ideals of friendship which inspired nearly 200 women who attended a public meeting convened by Mrs. Mason in 1946 to form the club.
At least 100 Second World War brides have cause to be grateful to the British Women’s Club. Well over 100 children were born to them in the first few years after their arrival, and club membership is again increasing as these women have more time to meet at the monthly social gatherings, held alternatively in the afternoon and evening.
The British Women’s Club had its origin in a letter to the editor of the Hawke’s Bay Herald-Tribune written by Mrs. Mason, to gauge interest in its formation. The response was overwhelming. Within a fortnight 21 controversial letters were published.
The result was a well-attended public meeting and the formation of the club. Mrs Mason retired as president after three years.
The executive elected at the annual meeting in March is President, Mrs. F. H. Hayes; secretary, Mrs J Sunley; treasurer, Mrs. L. H. Wainscott. There is a committee of 14.