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Rutland woman receives Land Army medal for service

Cynthia Harris, 94, receives her war medal from Rutland county councillor Richard Foster EMN-160129-150651001
Cynthia Harris, 94, receives her war medal from Rutland county councillor Richard Foster EMN-160129-150651001

A 94-year-old woman from Rutland has finally been recognised for her service as an active member of the Women’s Land Army during the Second World War.

Cynthia Harris was presented her medal by Rutland county councillor Richard Foster after some detective work by Jean Denyer, a Rutland Community Agent, who found out Cynthia had never been recognised for serving her country.

Having always wanted to work on a farm, Cynthia had been eager to sign up to become one of 80,000 women across the country who helped run farms and provide food for the nation during the war in a move known as ‘Dig For Victory’.

In particular, she had enjoyed working with cows but when the corps was disbanded in 1950, Cynthia wasn’t able to pursue her farming dream because she became a carer for her mother.

Talking about how she discovered the missing award, Jean said: “When I first met Cynthia it didn’t take long before she started telling me about how much she’d enjoyed being a Land Girl during the war; her passion for farming really shone through.

“Cynthia had been referred to us to find a befriending scheme because she struggles to get out the house and I’d hoped I could find a service to put her in touch with other women who had been Land Girls.

“Unfortunately, because of the age of recruits, befriending schemes are no longer in place but as I was talking to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs about the Women’s Land Army, I found out that Cynthia had never been awarded a medal for her service.”

Jean surprised Cynthia with a formal presentation of the award by Coun Foster and a visit to Stockton Hall Farm, a local farm with cows on it so Cynthia could reminisce.

Cynthia said: “It was such a surprise. I didn’t know that Land Army Girls got awarded medals so I’m delighted.

“Jean’s been a huge help, and I’m so grateful to her and Coun Foster for organising a special day for me. I loved being able to get back to a farm; they were so welcoming. It brought back a lot of lovely memories and I was fascinated to see everything in action again.”

Jean added: “It was brilliant to watch Cynthia talking to the farmer about looking after his cows. She had remembered so much from her days as a Land Army Girl; Cynthia was definitely in her element.”

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