Name: Jackie Hawdon
County: Tyne and Wear
Member since: November 2011
You’re relatively new to our organisation - how did you hear about us and why did you get involved? I went to see a flower display at a church in Newcastle upon Tyne and spotted a leaflet about the Women’s Section. After a quick read, I knew it was an organisation I wanted to be a part of so I contacted my local branch and enquired about joining. After attending a couple of meetings, I could see that there was so much I could achieve by becoming a member - so i joined!
Do you have a service background? Yes. I joined the Women's Royal Army Corps (WRAC) in 1968 and worked as a Stewardess in the Officer’s Mess at Woolwich Garrison and the Royal Marines base in Lympstone. My son is also in the Territorial Army and has now completed two tours of duty in Afghanistan.
How easy was it to settle into your local branch and make friends? Very easy indeed! I’ve made some great friends in the Gateshead Branch and feel right at home. The Vice-Chairman and Branch Secretary often phone me up to keep me updated with the latest news and to see how I am. I feel very happy to be part of their group – it is a lovely, supportive and friendly environment to be in.
How often do you attend meetings? As many as my work commitments allow - usually once or twice a month.
Have you organised/participated in any specific fundraising events? Since I joined the Women’s Section I’ve organised several branch fundraisers. I work in a private members club so have been fortunate enough to use their club as a base for our events. I love baking so I often make cakes, scones, tarts, as well as various hot and cold refreshments which we sell to the public – so far I’ve managed to raise £600 in total!
Why is it important that we support the Armed Forces community, especially wives, spouses and dependants? I know from personal experience how difficult life can be as a wife and mother of a serving member of the Armed Forces. It’s vital that there is someone to turn to in times of need, someone who will understand your predicament and do all they can to support you through the difficult times.
What do you enjoy most about being a member? Definitely the company of the other branch members and knowing that the efforts we put in as a branch – whether hosting a fundraising event or recruiting new members - will ultimately benefit those in need and make a difference to their quality of life.
Why would you encourage other people to join? I’d encourage others to join because you can widen your social circle, make a whole new group of friends from all different walks of life, and most importantly, fundraise for a very worthwhile cause. I’ve had so much fun since I joined and I feel very lucky to be connected to such a lovely, friendly and supportive group of women.