Sheila Ladds and Julie Morrison wanted to do something special to surprise their mother.
Ladds and Morrison visited Quesnel in mid-May — one sister visiting from the U.K., the other from Vancouver.
Their mother, Rose Till, immigrated to Quesnel (with Morrison, her brother and father, while several of Till’s other children remained in the U.K.) in the 80s. Now, Till stays at G.R. Baker as she awaits a room in a long term care facility.
Whenever the sisters visit their mother, they try to make it stand out. So when they visited her in May, the pair had something special up their sleeves.
Ladds and Morrison dressed up as Women’s Land Army girls — the young women who went to work at farms while the men went off to fight in WWII — a job their mother worked as a young woman. With them, they brought their mother’s medal, a gift from Queen Elizabeth The Queen’s Mother following the end of the war.
Dressed in long brown overalls with tall rubber boots and matching headbands, the sisters burst into their mother’s hotel room, giving Till her medal and a plush cow.
“They’ve just blown me away,” says Till, who covered her face in her hands when she saw them enter her room dressed as Land Army girls. “I remember sending this [medal] to my mum and dad.”
For years, the medal has been with various members of her family for safe keeping.
Till says after joining the Land Army at 17, she was stationed in Warwickshire. She and the other girls would bike to their assigned farms each morning — each somewhere within a 10 mile radius.
“All the farmers wanted workers,” says Till. “Especially those that did the work, you know. There were a couple who were a bit lazy.
“I thought, well, ‘what the hell am I here for?’ So I just asked what needed to be done and got stuck in. A couple of the girls got stuck in with me.”
Her daughters say Till’s time in the Land Army had a significant impact on her life.
“We love embarrassing our mother,” jokes Morrison. “It’s so important to recognize veterans, and she’s very, very proud of her time in the land army. It’s one of the periods of her life that she always talks about.”
After their mother told them where she’d been stationed, Ladds says it was easy enough to track down and take pictures. “It’s not changed at all. The farm that she remembers is still there, and there’s an equestrian centre. But I’ve taken video for her.
“She’s got all the pictures and all the memories. But it makes a difference, it’s just a recognition really, isn’t it? That we respect what she’s done and we’ve made more memories today.”
It’s not a day any of them will soon forget.