The WLA Benevolent Fund was launched as a war charity on 30 July 1942 by Lady Gertrude Denman, Honorary Director of the British Women’s Land Army. The fund aimed to provide financial help for land girls who experienced hardship, illness or disability and for training and education grants.
In 1944, it also set up a WLA Club in London and later a Homecraft Training Centre offering a month’s residential training for land girls about to leave the WLA and get married. It also made arrangements for the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic complaints. Postwar, it set up a Convalescent Home and two Rest Homes, in Torquay and Llandudno, funded by the British War Relief Society of the USA.
During the war, Land Girls themselves contributed the most to the Benevolent Fund, through numerous fundraising activities. WLA hostels and counties competed with each other to see who could raise the largest amounts of money each year. In 1945, having failed to offer post-war gratuities to land girls, the British Government made a token donation of £170,000 to the Benevolent Fund.
Post-war, the Fund made more requests to the public for donations. In a period before the development of a welfare state, former members of the WLA needed grants from the Fund, either to help them recover from illness or injuries incurred when they were active land girls or to help pay for retraining after the war to find future employment.
Nowadays with very limited funding, the WLA Benevolent Fund still exists, under the umbrella of the charity “Family Action”, for the prevention or relief of poverty of former members of the Women’s Land Army and Timber Corps.
In The Archives
Irene Hulatt nee Wright was one of many former land girls who, at the end of their Second World War service in the Land Army, decided to get married. Some of them who wished to were able to attend a Homecraft Training Centre near Bury St Edmunds where they received a month’s training in domestic skills, free of charge, thanks to the Women’s Land Army Benevolent Fund.