In 1919, a year after the Armistice which ended the terrible carnage of the Great War, a lady was visiting a local Ministry of Pensions Hospital. She asked the matron if, by chance, she still had any wounded servicemen under treatment. ‘Six hundred’ came the bleak reply. The lady, Miss Marta Cunningham, a famous singer, was horrified and soon discovered that in fact there were many thousands of badly wounded men lying in hospitals up and down the country, bored, lonely and in pain.
On 12th August 1920 Miss Cunningham established The “NOT FORGOTTEN” Association with the object of providing entertainment and recreation for the war wounded to alleviate the tedium of their lives and give them something to which they could look forward. By 1927 some 85,000 people had been entertained outside the hospitals.
In 1926 the Association officially defined its task as being ‘to provide comfort, cheer and entertainment for the wounded ex-servicemen still in hospital as a result of the Great War’. As the years went on the Association has adapted to meet changing needs and extended its activities to include those wounded in more recent conflicts. We continue to provide support to approximately 12,000 men and women each year.
HRH Princess Mary, later The Princess Royal, became the Association’s first patron and remained so for the rest of her life. She was succeeded by HRH The Duchess of Kent who remained Patron until 2000. HRH The Princess Royal became our Patron in 2000 and continues as such today.
More about Marta Cunningham
Miss Marta Cunningham, Founder of The Not Forgotten Association, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States and was educated at the Convent of Notre Dame in Baltimore. She went on to receive vocal training from internationally famed teachers of singing in France, Switzerland, Germany and England. Her first appearance as a soprano soloist was in the Coronation concert at the Crystal Palace in August 1901. From 1910 to 1912 she established regular ‘matinees musicales’ at Claridges Hotel in London and during the Great War she was active in charity and canteen work.