98 year old Alice surprised with medal presentation

A 98-year-old Beyond Housing customer from Staithes found herself at the centre of an unexpected International Women’s Day surprise.

Alice Gullon, who had served as a Wren in the Royal Navy during WW2, was pleased to be invited to an afternoon tea party, hosted by the Scarborough branch of Firstlight Trust to mark international Women’s Day, but had no idea that she was to be presented with the Armed Forces Veterans Badge.

Also receiving the badge, which is awarded to those who have served in the army, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force or the volunteer or regular reserves, was 87-year-old Wyn Crowhurst who had served in the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps as a nurse from 1953 to 1956 Alice spent most of her wartime service in Great Yarmouth before eventually moving to the Royal Marine Depot in Kent from where she was demobbed in 1946. She later became a domestic worker, serving the same family for almost 50 years until her retirement. Alice has remained determinedly independent throughout her life, never marrying because, as she said: “there was nobody good enough”!

Despite deteriorating eyesight Alice continues her long-term commitment to knitting and crocheting clothes and blankets for the Special Care Baby Unit at Scarborough Hospital but, due to her limited mobility, has never been able to visit the unit herself.

Beyond Housing Community Connector Helen Swinger first met Alice at a social Memory Lane session delivered by Revival North Yorkshire at Sleights Community Centre. It became clear to Helen that, despite Alice’s desire to retain her independence, she was beginning to struggle with her hearing, eyesight and mobility and would certainly benefit from some additional support.

On learning that Alice was an armed forces veteran Helen was able to engage with the Firstlight Trust which moved swiftly to ensure that Alice had access to all the appropriate aids and benefits that she was entitled to; adding the presentation of a Veteran’s Badge as an additional surprise.

After receiving her award from Scarborough Sea Cadets Chair Fay Roberts, Alice said: “It’s been a complete surprise, I had no idea, but I’m really very pleased to receive my badge”!

Tracy O’Neill, Beyond Housing Executive Director, Customers & Communities said: “It’s truly heart-warming to see this remarkable lady recognised for her wartime service and also for the commitment she’s shown in supporting the Scarborough Hospital SCBU. It’s also pleasing to see Beyond Housing colleagues working closely with partner agencies to help Alice live happily and safely in her home”.

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