Support for Britain’s racial health

Letter to the Grant’s Committee at the National Advisory Council for Physical Training and Recreation from The Women’s League of Health and Beauty, 24th June 1937 (ED 113/81)


The Women’s League of Health and Beauty
Miss Prunella Stack
(Founder Mrs BAGOT STACK).
Mrs A. J. Cruickshank.

Aim .. Racial Health.

Lady St. John of Bletso
Miss Irene Scharrer
Mrs T.M. Tunnard
Miss Dorothy Dobbin, M.D., D.P.H.
Lady Atkinson
Miss Marjorie Duncombe
The Dowagee Lady Swaythling
Mrs. Charles Pantlin

Miss Prunella Stack (Leader)
Mrs A. J. Cruickshank, M.B.E., M.A (Director)
Mrs Charles Pantlin (Organising Director)
Mr Robert Goldie C.A. (Financial Director)
Miss E. A. Ashburner (Secretary)


Telegrams: Bodybild, Wesdo, London.
Cables: Bodybild, London.
Telephones: Langham 2118.

June 24th., 1937

To the Secretary,
Grants Committee,
National Advisory Council for Physical Training and Recreation,
Queen Anne’s Chambers,
Tothill Street,

Dear Sir,

You have already learned, in personal interviews with Mrs. Cruickshank and Miss Prunella Stack, of the present state of the finances of the Women’s League of Health and Beauty.

Briefly set forth the position is that, to carry the League through the summer and enable it to open its autumn session unhampered, a total sum of £8,000 is needed. Of this sum a certain supporter of the League is prepared to advance £1000 for every £1,000 advanced by anyone else, and their offer holds good for fractions of £1000 and also whether the sum produced takes the form of donation, grant-in-aid, loan, or guarantee at a Bank.

We are aware that the conditions laid down by the Physical Training and Recreation Act make the League eligible in only one category (or, possibly, two) to be the recipient of a grant; namely that which admits of sums being allocated (see Paragraph 3, Section 1, sub-section (a) ) :- “towards the expenses of a voluntary organisation in providing ….facilities for physical training and recreation…..”

A substantial proportion of our difficulties was caused by paying a premium for acquiring a lease of our present premises, the total sum expended being £2,800. This lease will enable us in the near future to build an extra hall in which to accommodate numerous members for whose benefit we have been hitherto compelled to hire extra halls at exorbitant rentals. In our opinion this objective definitely comes within the meaning of the Act.

We therefore earnestly beg you to give your serious consideration to the following request; that you will allocate to the League a grant in aid of its scheme for providing increased facilities; and would point out that it is the policy that matters, rather than the sum. Since our financial position became acute, Mrs Cruickshank has interviewed no fewer than twenty-four individuals with the object of obtaining from them the necessary help. In every case, without exception, the question has been put to her: “Why can you not get help from the government?”

You will appreciate that, to the lay mind, there is a sum of £2,000,000 available, and the technical difficulties connected with its disbursement are difficult to explain. The result, as far as we are concerned, is that even those who might help us are influenced against doing so by the present attitude of the Grants Committee; whereas, if once others knew that there was even a prospect of Government assistance, they would be much more inclined to offer their own.

Our present situation is the result of external conditions, which have been exceptional and which are unlikely to recur. All of them have seriously reduced the numbers attending our classes:

Bad weather all over the British Isles before and after Christmas.
Flu’ epidemic.
Preparations for Coronation (late hours worked, which kept girls from attending classes).
Bus strike.
Coronation holidays followed immediately by Whitsuntide.

The League has hitherto been able to be self-supporting. Although it has had occasionally to secure loans to tide it over difficult periods, these have always been repaid within a few months. It has, for seven years, organised and held health classes for girls and women throughout the country, and, in the last two years, in two Dominions: the number of classes held is approximately 2,000 a week. It has also trained and found employment for eighty-two teachers and sixty-three organisers, besides its headquarters and local staffs.

We are making every effort to reconstruct our system of expenditure so that considerable saving will be effected. We further believe that, if this period is tided over, we shall be able to save Government expenditure in future by continuing to be self-supporting. We simply want you to understand that the present declaration by the Grants Committee of inability to help is having an adverse effect on individuals who might do so; and that there is only one possible conclusion in prospect unless assistance can be obtained – namely, the bankruptcy of the League and its disappearance.

Yours faithfully
Elizabeth Ashburner
For the Executive Committee.

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