#SheInspiredMe: The GFS women before me

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Nanna Winnie (on the right) at a GFS afternoon tea event.

My grandmother, known fondly to me as ‘Nanna Winnie’, joined GFS Waxham Branch North Norfolk aged seven in 1926. She was an active member of GFS until she died in 1987.  

Her childhood was worlds apart from my own – she was born in 1919 as the eldest of four children, and raised on farmland in East Anglia. While I grew up in a town in the busy South East of England.  

And yet, through the twists and turns of life I feel connected and inspired by the life she led. I was seven when she died and I only have a few hazy memories of her, but my own mother has passed on information about the sort of woman she was.  

My grandmother was a quiet, gentle woman who loved to giggle. At first glance you may think she was unassuming, nothing extraordinary.  

However, behind the facade she was a strong hard-working woman who always put others before herself. Always. She was non-judgemental – a virtue I aspire to hold, but one which is incredibly hard to adhere to.  

My grandmother held strong Christian values, which for her meant showing kindness and compassion to others. My mum always remembers an extra guest or two around the table on Christmas Day, as my grandmother would always invite those who were alone.  

In 1939, when she was only 20-years-old, my grandmother conscripted into the Army as World War II took hold across Europe and was sent miles away from home to North Yorkshire.  

In modern times, it seems unthinkable, that a 20-year-old woman would be made to join the Army, leaving her family, friends and work behind.  

Family was incredibly important to my grandmother. She maintained strong bonds with all of her siblings and created a loving home for my grandfather and their two daughters. Ultimately Giving my grandfather the family and stability he never had as a child.  

Friendship was also incredibly important to my grandmother, maintaining strong friendships that lasted all her life. Friendship is something that I too, value and invest in. 

It is the very ethos of GFS – for Girls, for Friendship, for Society.

My grandmother never lost contact with her Army friends, my grandfather’s family in Yorkshire, nor her GFS friends and network.  

GFS was also incredibly important to my grandmother. She valued everything the society stood for. She supported the Great Yarmouth’s Women’s Project and children’s home, even making nappies for the babies there. She ran the Townsend Fellowship in North Walsham, extending her knowledge and values to other young women. 

She inspired me to be a good friend, neighbour and to put others before myself. I feel proud to be working for GFS, an organisation that meant so much to her. 

-Lucy Pond, Partnerships Coordinator

Take part in the #SheInspiredME campaign

Every one of us will have a woman whose achievements, behaviours or persistence have inspired us. Why not support our work with girls and young women by sharing who has inspired you to celebrate International Women’s Day? They could be a family member, a celebrity, a teacher, or anyone in between.

All you have to do is:

  • Make your donation at girlsfriendlysociety.org.uk/tbg
  • Then, share the donation link, along with who you picked and why
  • Finally, nominate five others to do the same! Don’t forget to tag GFS in your post too.

Plus, from 8-15 March, The Big Give will double your donation, so your support will go twice as far. Funds raised during this campaign will be used to hold Regional fund day meet ups that connect GFS girls with girls from other groups in their region for a day of friendship, activities and laughter. After nearly two years of isolation during COVID, these fun days are a huge deal to the girls and your support in making them happen would be amazing.

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