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Wild Ladies MVP Awards Commemorate WW1 Nursing Heroine

Widnes Wild Ladies players (l to r) Ellen Tyrer, Ellie Green and Phoebe Patient with the Kate Luard Memorial MVP trophies for the new season (Photo by Paul Breeze)

The Widnes Wild Ladies team have some impressive new trophies for their Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards at their home games this season thanks to the continued sponsorship of the Wild club’s Poet in Residence Lucy London.

This is the fourth year in a row that Lucy has sponsored the MVP awards for the Wild Women’s ice hockey team’s home matches and, in keeping with her other main activity – that of researching and raising awareness of the roles of women in the Great War - Lucy has once again decided to dedicate this year’s awards to the memory of another such woman.

This season’s award is in memory of British nurse Kate Luard, RRC and Bar (1872 - 1962)

Born in Aveley, Essex in 1872, Kate was educated at Croydon High School and trained during the 1890s at The East London Hospital for Children, then at King's College Hospital in London. She joined the Army Nursing Service in 1900 and served for two years in South Africa during the Second Boer War (1899 - 1902).

Kate was in her 40s and Matron of the Berks and Bucks County Sanatorium when she joined the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service on 6th August 1914. She was mobilised and sent to France. For her services as a nurse on the Western Front in WW1, Kate was awarded the Royal Red Cross in 1916 and a bar was added to the award in June 1918.

The Royal Red Cross (RRC) medal was introduced by Queen Victoria on 27th April 1883. The Royal warrant provides for the award “to any ladies, whether subjects or foreign persons, who may be recommended by Our Secretary of State for War for special exertions in providing for the nursing of sick and wounded soldiers and sailors of Our Army and Navy”. IN WW1, during the reign of King George V the words 'or Our Air Force in the field' were added.

When used in conjunction with medals awarded for exceptional service, the term "and bar" means that the award has been bestowed several times.

For the 2018/19 season, the Wild women MVP awards were dedicated to the memory of Sarah MacNaughtan, who single-handedly set up and operated soup kitchens in the war zones on the Western Front. In 2019/20, the awards were in honour of Merseyside-born Edith Smith, who became the country’s first warranted woman police officer during WW1 and later worked as a nursing assistant at a hospital in Runcorn. After the break due to Covid, the 2021/22 season, the Wild women MVP awards were dedicated to the memory of Winifred Mabel Letts, British WW1 VAD, writer and poet, who was born in Salford and worked as a Military Masseuse during WW1 at Army camps in Manchester and Alnwick, Northumberland during WW1.

Talking about her choice of Luard to commemorate for this season’s awards, Lucy said: “I decided on Kate Luard for this season as she was one of the WW1 nurses awarded the Royal Red Cross medal. Her bravery was such that she had a Bar added to the RRC medal. Several years ago, I read the book of Kate’s war-time letters in which she described conditions on the Western front and was very impressed. Kate survived the war but many of the nurses were killed or died of illnesses contracted during their service. As we haven’t yet commemorated a nurse I felt it was time to do so.”

Luard’s great-niece Caroline Stevens said of the awards: “Kate would be tickled pink with this!”

You can find out more about Kate Luard’s fascinating life and writings on Caroline’s dedicated website at:

“Unknown Warriors: The Letters of Kate Luard, RRC and Bar, Nursing Sister in France 1914-1918” edited by John and Caroline Stevens; (The History Press, 2014).


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