WOMEN'S ROYAL VOLUNTARY SERVICE.
This British organisation was founded in 1938 as the Women's Voluntary Service. It performed a valuable function during the war, and continued afterwards in local authority or national government schemes of voluntary welfare services, including Meals on Wheels. This provided for the delivery of meals to those unable to shop or cook for themselves.
On Thursday May 28th 1942, the W.V.S. took part in an interesting ceremony at Cleaves and on the Village Green, when the Governor of Nigeria, Sir Bernard Bourdillon, presented a Mobile Canteen Van from the People of Nigeria. Many notable people were present from the County Council, the W.V.S. organisation, and our own Air Vice Marshall A C Borton.
The van, which was to be used for serving food to agricultural and other workers, was open for inspection, and pies were served from it at the end of the ceremony. The Governor of Nigeria sampled one with apparent enjoyment. Sir Bernard gave an interesting talk to the school children and asked them to write to the children of Nigeria, promising to broadcast their letters.
Mr Acott's Bakery, which was to be used as the Yalding Cooking Centre, was also open for inspection. Lady Rachel Egerton and Mrs St. John Manser entertained the party to tea at Willow Grove.
They started the Darby and Joan Club in April 1954, and later operated a Children's Play Centre between 2 and 4 pm each weekday, charging 2s per single child, or 1s 6d for two or more. (before 1968)
The function of the WRVS played a consistent part in any assistance when needed, and gave valuable help during the floods of 1968. Members from Benover and Collier Street went to Paddock Wood to help with evacuees from Beltring, whilst members living north of Town Bridge manned a relief centre in a room prepared in Cleaves Hall.
One function gratefully received by its recipients was meals on wheels. During 1968 a total of 676 meals were delivered, which in 1972 had increased to 1,054, covering Nettlestead Green, Laddingford, Claygate and Yalding. These meals were taken on Tuesdays and Thursdays, to people recommended by a doctor. They were collected from the I.C.I. Canteen at about 11.30, and kept hot in a charcoal fired `hot lock' in a car boot. On a roster system the volunteer drivers, who were paid mileage allowance by the Kent County Council, were required to be on duty one week in eight. This was still active in 1978.
The WRVS had been operating a Nursery Group for 3 to 5 year olds, but as the numbers had fallen, it was decided that there would be more benefit from a `Mother and Toddler' group for children under 4½ years. This was to be from 2.15 to 3.15 pm, and the first meeting was on Wednesday 2nd of October 1974. In 1980 a Mother and Baby club was meeting in Cleaves from 2 - 4 pm for 0 to 3 year olds. A charge of 15p was made for biscuits and tea.