Worcestershire County Council celebrates the County's last remaining heroes of WW2  

cangirl Published Thursday, 15th June 2017

Working long hours, seven days a week in a munition factory may not be everyone's cup of tea but for the Canary Girls of Worcestershire – it was all part of their contribution to the war effort.

The Canary Girls were a group of girls who worked at the local munition factory during WW2 in Blackpole, Worcester.

Having to work day-in and day-out with the dangerous chemicals that they placed into the bullets and bombs for military aircraft meant that their skin and hair was often coloured a slight tinge of yellow – hence the name, 'Canary Girls'.

Kathleen Halford and Kathleen Smith both worked at the Blackpole factory. Kathleen Smith said: "It was long hours and it was seven days a week. I had to be up for 5am to catch my bus from Cheltenham to Worcester."

The dedication of these ladies is what endears them to the hearts of the people of Worcestershire. Dr Francis Howie, Director for Public Health said: "We all owe a great debt to those who served their country wartime. I was particularly moved to see this recognition, coming so very long after the sacrifices that the ladies made.   

She added: "It is so important that all the different parts of our wartime history are known and it was great to work in partnership with the BBC in bringing this story to a wider audience.  I was proud to meet our two Canary Girls and very much hope that the ceremony made clear to them the esteem in which they and their colleagues are held."  

The granddaughter of Kathleen Halford commented on the award: "My grandmother has really enjoyed the day's celebrations and receiving The Black Pear Award on behalf of all the munitions workers. It is nice for their efforts to be recognised and she was honoured to accept it on their behalf along with Kathleen Smith."

On the invitation of the Chairman of the County Council, the Canary Girls received their awards at a special event held at County Hall in Worcester.

The selected pear tree forms part of several Black Pear Trees that have been gifted by Pershore College as supporters of the Black Pear Tree Award.

So far the Black Pear Tree Award has gifted five pear trees to worthy recipients including Rio Olympian, Alex Gregory (MBE), Paralympians Lauren Rowles (MBE), Clare Cashmore (MBE), Rebecca Redfern and the Men's GB Wheelchair Basketball Team (collected by Head Coach Haj Bhania).