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Arrive at the Castle from 12 noon to enjoy a pre-lunch drink. A delicious 2-course hot buffet lunch will be served at 12.30pm in the spectacular surroundings of the Saloon, followed by teas and coffees. At 2.00pm this month’s ‘Food for Thought’ talk will be given by local historian and author Doug Smith, MBE.

“In March 1919, the Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) Hospital at Hartlebury Castle closed its doors to patient for the last time. The records of almost all such hospitals were destroyed after the war. With them went the stories of the nurses and soldiers who lived, worked, and were treated there, but no so at Hartlebury. The Commandant of the Hospital, Frances Gibbons, had three autograph books that she preserved.

I was fortunate enough to be asked to research these books and discovered that there were four more in the County Archives at the Hive in Worcester, which had been saved by another Hartlebury VAD nurse.

From the jumble of photographs and messages in the seven books has emerged ‘Cheers Boys, It’s Hartlebury!’, which tells the story of the 436 soldiers recorded in the diaries. It contains their final messages, their poems and art work, information about the nurses who looked after them and photographs of the countless trips, entertainments and sports they took part in. It is a portrait of a haven of peace amidst the carnage of war that has been a joy to research, write and share with others.” (Doug Smith, MBE)