Posthumous Award For 1972 Aldershot Bombing Welfare Officer
Eve was a remarkable woman who dedicated her life to others. From being Welfare Officer in the Falklands War and during the Aldershot Bombings to starting Relate and championing mental health in Hampshire.
Watch our Eagle Radio Local Heroes Awards Video on YouTube.
Ahead of Eagle Radio’s Local Heroes Awards in 2018, Shelley Gorys contacted Eagle Radio to tell us all about her Mother Eve Thursfield who had led a remarkable life. Shelley wanted her Mum’s achievements in the Hampshire community and beyond to be recognised - so I met with her to find out a bit more about who Eve was.
To begin Eve’s story, we have to go all the way back to World War 2 where she joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, where she was a plotter.
“She was 18 when she joined a team of girls to manoeuvre and operate and feedback the information. She had then, unfortunately, an incident where this young Lieutenant came in brandishing a brand new style of handgun and she told him off which was very much Eve and this chap just turned round and said her ‘I don't know what the problem is it's not loaded’ and pointed it to her point-blank range and shot…it missed her heart by millimeters and it was at that point going through paperwork that they discovered Eve was actually only 16 and not 18 and that's how she'd weaved away in but she was back six months later back on duty.”
She then began her career at the Ministry Of Defense where she met her future husband Christopher.
“She met him on a blind date, six weeks later he proposed, she said yes, the parents said no, so literally they eloped and they got married on the 21st of December 1946!”
Welfare After The Aldershot Bombings 1972
After getting married she decided to make a change she realised that life had to hold something more for her, so she then moved into Welfare for the Ministry of Defense and was based initially at Aldershot. At the same time she decided to take a psychology degree in the evening Eve was the chief welfare officer when the Aldershot Parachute Regiment was bombed by the IRA in 1972 and for six weeks she looked after all of the civilians, their families, their children and it was a very traumatic time obviously for many and still is in many memories.
Welfare In The Falklands War
Her role as welfare officer extended to abroad supporting personnel in Germany, Cyprus, Hong Kong, and the Falkland Islands.
“The people on the Falklands would have had relations over here they would have been very worried and Eve liaised. If somebody needed to come back she would ensure that all the transport was put into place. She was the person that they could talk to in the UK if they had any concerns of what was going on. She would make people feel comfortable and it was okay if Eve was dealing with it.”
Mental Health In Aldershot and Farnborough
Retirement didn't slow Eve down, she became a school governor, chairman for Surrey Heath Mental Health and launched both Relate in Camberley and Victim Support in Hampshire.
“She could pull in all of the resources that she'd learned over the years and here was one place where she could help many and she thrived and she loved it. She helped many victims within the Hampshire area specifically around Aldershot and Farnborough.”
Eve had to finally retire at the age of 83 after a failed hip operation.
“It was her intuition that said ‘this is not going to work’ she said ‘when I come home it's not going to be right’ and she contracted MRSA and then they had to remove the hip. I don't know why but when they removed the hip, they said she could go home. The saddest tale is that at the end we couldn't help her.”
Eve sadly passed away in 2007.
Eve was recently posthumously presented with a Local Heroes Award from Surrey and Hampshire’s local radio station Eagle Radio as a Lifetime Achievement. The above documentary was made my Greer Riddell for Eagle Radio to celebrate Eve’s life and achievements.
Aldershot Welfare Officer - Eagle Radio Local Heroes Awards