Letters to the editor – 15.10.20

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In search of Wrens

I am looking for ex Wrens – anyone who joined during 1947-81 and trained at HMS Dauntless (Reading). I’m compiling a searchable, accessible archive of Divisional “class” photos that only ex wrens may access. The collection also encourages old friends to be rediscovered, memories shared and new friendships/support groups formed.

With permission from various Wrens support groups, I started this archive and for want of anywhere better or more accessible, I stored the collection in a private FB group and contacted all the Wrens I could trace using normal social media sources. But I know that there are many hundreds of ladies out there who don’t use social media.

Literally within days I realised the idea was much bigger than just photo storage. A friend came on board to help with the deluge of information that landed on my desktop and within a month we had over 1000 ‘members’ in the group. That’s when we discovered that this was so much more than just an archive of old photos. Especially during lockdown, it became a place of memories, finding old friends, making new ones, adding photos of adventures and escapades. It brought isolated ladies together, occasionally offered moral support and gave us all things to think and talk about. Within the first month of existence there were over 10.5k social interactions within the group.

Thirty thousand wrens went through the gates of the training establishment known as HMS Dauntless during the 34 years in operation. Approximately 40 divisions (classes) per year which means a rough total of 1,360 classes which equals the potential for 1,360 class photos. We currently have around 600 photos … 42.5% of what’s possible.

We’ve published in all the usual naval and military publications but we’d like to reach those ladies who don’t read these or use social media.

If you were, or you know of any ladies who were, in the Wrens, please get in touch with us because we’d love to hear from you and quite possibly, give the opportunity to reconnect with old classmates.
Mandy Whitham, Coordinator Dauntless Div Phots 47-81, ddpwrens@gmail.com

Clergy offered no assistance

I read with great interest the letter by Angus MacDonald in regard to help for the churches.

I am the Parish Priest of both Arisaig and Morar Parishes with five churchs and three houses to maintain and care for with weekly collections now of around £300. I have been under enormous pressure trying to make ends meet. My congregations are small and with Covid restrictions the income has fallen dramatically. We do not receive any help from external sources and have to maintain our parishes from the donations we receive.

I have applied to Highland Council for help but was told that places of worship do not qualify for any assistance. I have written to our councillors asking for help and was told to contact Kate Forbes MSP. I have contacted Kate Forbes and got a response in which she asks me to contact our councillors.

If we want our churches to continue to exist, places where we celebrated baptisms of our children, weddings, places where we give our final farewells to those who passed away, we need to show to the government that churches still play a role in people’s lives. A lot of people have found comfort and help in their religious congregations during this terrible time.

To add to the sadness and stress, my personal income has fallen as well. Unlike Church of Scotland ministers, Catholic clergy receives a monthly salary of £250, while the church provides provisions and accommodation.

I am fully aware that everyone has been affected economically, so I do not expect people to make a bigger contributions. I am always grateful for their generosity. What I am upset about is that despite the fact that I submit my annual tax returns and pay taxes, according to HMRC, I am neither employed nor self-employed and do not qualify for any kind of Covid support.

Yes, sometimes I feel as If I am becoming obsolete, invisible, no longer needed and under tremendous pressure. It is people of good will who keep me going, and for that I am thankful every day.
Fr Stanislaw Pamula, Catholic Diocese Argyll & Isles – Arisaig & Morar.

Oban flu jab operation praise

Massive praise for whoever was responsible for the organisation of the flu jab operation at the Corran Halls, Oban. From beginning to end, the system worked like clockwork.
From car park attendants to those administering the jabs, everyone was without exception courteous and professional. Well done everyone. Thank you.
Moira Lang, Shennachie, Oban.