Name: Heather Spence
Voluntary Position: Publicity Officer for Hertfordshire County
"In my 30 odd years of being a member of the Women’s Section, I’ve seen many changes, but one thing has always remained constant - a passion to assist the Armed Forces community and the sense of camaraderie between our members.
As a nervous 17 year old, recently appointed Branch Standard Bearer, I will always remember the wonderful support the other Standard Bearers gave me at my first National Conference. I also remember how empowered I felt on returning home, knowing I was part of the biggest and most vibrant organisation supporting Service personnel and their families. As a sailor’s daughter, I know how much it can make a difference in your life.
The Women’s Section has given me precious life skills such as being able to listen (not always easy at 17!), learning from others and challenging to push myself. These life skills have helped me to the rank of Sgt in the Royal Army Medical Corps (TA) subsequently joining the Army Training Team, gaining a degree in teaching at the age of 40 and successful promotions in my job.
If anybody said to me that the Women’s Section was full of old ladies who knit and play bingo - I would ask them to look and think again! There may be one or two of us who have bus passes but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the energy or skills to continue to drive our much needed organisation through 90 years of change".
You currently represent the Women’s Section as Deputy National Standard Bearer, but you also volunteer your time as a County Publicity Officer – what does it involve? It’s the duty of the County Publicity Officer to promote the Women’s Section at every opportunity - for example at County shows, in local and national press, on the radio and in publications. This might include writing articles about local events, taking photographs, and relaying it all to various publicity outlets and back to Head Office. It’s also their responsibility to ensure branches have a good stock of publicity material and are well prepared for any local fundraising and recruitment events.
Why did you volunteer for the role? It’s a role I felt I could channel my enthusiasm about the WS into and it also gives me the opportunity to make a significant impact; publicity is crucial and without it, no-one will ever know who we are and the good work we do.
What do you enjoy most about the role? Spreading the word about the work of Women’s Section and the fun and friendship that comes along with it.
What’s the biggest challenge? Getting press articles in the newspapers – negotiating with journalists is never an easy task!
What qualities/skills does a good Publicity Officer need? A good Publicity Officer needs to be able to find creative ways to publicise the work of the Women’s Section, as well as being approachable and good at communicating with a wide range of people.
Why would you encourage others to volunteer? As a volunteer you will have the opportunity to promote our wonderful organisation, tell others of the important work we do and have great fun at the same time.