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Caring on the Home Front - Volunteer memories from World War Two

Stories » Fundraising » Violet Ryder

Violet Ryder

Cambridge to Minsk relief fund


Violet Ryder worked magic with a tin can. At work in Cambridge, she collected for the Joint War Organisation war effort during her breaks. Her neighbours also gave willingly to the cause. From Guildhall bazaars to garden parties, for spitfires and food for Russia, Violet raised essential money and awareness.

Any special memories?

violet2” We had bazaars in the Guildhall and we had jumble sales. There would be different stalls, with toys and games. Different stalls: white elephant stalls. And baby shows! The biggest and bonniest used to win the prize! I wouldn’t want to collect for many things. But Red Cross, which I believe in, then you can ask. I didn’t mind approaching people. I must be a rather nosy person. We went into all these different houses and it was quite interesting! If it’s a good cause, it’s alright.

There was that one specific thing. We were asked to collect for Russia, for Minsk. The Cambridge to Minsk Relief Fund.

violet3They [Russia] were our allies. And it was rather hard. There were all these ships going out there trying to give them food because they were starving. And when they got there, they’d gone through all this terrible time getting there—bombed by the Germans, shot down—and then when they got there, they said, ‘Oh, well you haven’t brought all the things we asked for!’

I think the ones that did get through, when they got through, that must have been hard.”

What did you do?

violet4“I would collect around the [Cambridge Instrument] Factory when I was working in the factory. I must have collected up at Hills Road. Got about £2, which was quite a lot in those days.

This is the letter I had back from the Cambridge Women’s Committee for Soviet Comforts:

‘Dear Miss Payne,’ which was when my name before I married.

violet5‘I just counted the contents of your tin. It is £2, 9 shillings…which is a very nice sum indeed. Not many of our collectors have managed to get such a handsome results. Thank you very much indeed for your good work. Mrs. Hyman of the Red Cross asked me after the lecture last night to help with Mrs. Churchill’s Aid to Russia Flag Day on 9th of October [1945]. I shall certainly do my best and I hope you will also come in on it, either with the Red Cross members or else with my Committee, as we shall all be working together. Thank you again. Sincerely, Tatiana Minorsky’

For the Red Cross I’ve collected a lot; wartime for the Red Cross and after the War. This whole estate, I used to be the organiser for the Red Cross for this estate. And I used to get several hundred pounds.”


The Duke of Gloucester’s Appeal for the Red Cross and St. John Fund opened on 9 September 1939, and was closed on 30 June 1945. More than £54 million was raised through a number of appeal committees. At that time it was the largest charitable fund ever raised in Britain. Find out more about Joint War Organisation fundraising.


Germany began to make war on Russia on 22 June 1941. In Britain, the public wanted to help the Russian people, and a number of fundraising schemes were set up. These were combined by the Joint War Organisation under their Aid to Russia Fund, with Mrs Churchill as its Chairman. The Fund raised £8 million. Find out more about the Aid to Russia Fund.


The totals collected under each part of the Duke of Gloucester’s Appeal were:

  • General Fund £10,000,000
  • Overseas collections £5,500,000
  • Church collections £318,000
  • Cinema collections £1,000,000
  • Deeds of covenant £500,000
  • Proceeds of Flag Days £2,700,000
  • Agriculture Committee £7,500,000
  • Penny-a-Week Fund £17,500,000
  • Red Cross Sales committee £1,750,000
  • Sports committee £2,300,000