When Lady Elizabeth Kitson wanted to create an organisation to represent Army families, her suggestion was not well received by the chain of command. Some wives even felt that there was no point, as the Army would never listen.
Fortunately, Lady Kitson did have the backing of her husband, the Commander-in-Chief of UK Land Forces, General Sir Frank Kitson and he signed a charter in 1982 establishing a new Federation of Army Wives’ Clubs.
Lady Kitson said in a letter to UKLF wives at the time: “The Federation is to be the recognised voice of Army wives… there will be the chance to have a say on decisions affecting the quality of life in your married quarter and on the patch.”
She began travelling to wives’ clubs all over the country encouraging them to register and, a year later, 92 clubs had registered and FAWC held its first AGM.
A link was formed with the Joint Services Furnishing Committee and, for the first time, wives were allowed a say in the choice of carpets, curtains and furniture in their homes – at a time when some quarters did not have central heating, fitted carpets or plumbing for a washing machine.
In 1983, the forerunners of the AFF Specialists were established for housing, Army wives’ concerns, education, furnishing and the NAAFI and in 1984 the Adjutant General invited five wives to present to his annual conference.
At first the FAWG only covered the UK, but in 1985 a Federation was established in Northern Ireland, followed by Germany in 1989 and Cyprus in 1994.
Due to the changing nature of Army families, the charity rebranded in 1996 to AFF and reached out to the wider family of the serving soldier.
Forty years on, we’re still working hard to improve the quality of life for Army families around the world on the unique challenges you face.
AFF’s Chief Executive Collette Musgrave says: “Army families have changed over the last 40 years and we have changed with them. Families have become more dispersed – you are not just on the patch but living in your own homes and unaccompanied.
“Initiatives such as Future Soldier and FAM will continue to bring change in the coming years, so we will continue to represent you through our expertise in specialist areas.”
Look out for more on AFF’s 40th anniversary in the spring edition of Army&You, out tomorrow, and on our social media channels.
POSTED ON 28 MARCH 2022