In 1919, a year after the Armistice which ended the Great War, a lady was visiting a local Ministry of Pensions Hospital. She asked the Matron if, by chance, there were still any wounded servicemen under her care. The Matron, slightly surprised, replied that there were in fact 600 injured patients lying in the hospital.
The lady, a well-known soprano by the name of Marta Cunningham, was horrified and soon discovered that there were thousands of wounded and lonely servicemen still in hospitals up and down the country. Marta set about persuading her friends to invite these men out for afternoon tea and entertainment to alleviate the tedium of their lives and to give them something to which they could look forward.
On 12th August 1920 Marta Cunningham formed The “NOT FORGOTTEN” Association for the ‘comfort, cheer and entertainment’ of the war wounded. Within a year some 10,000 men had benefited from the Association’s work.
Over time the Association has adapted to meet changing needs and today we continue to provide entertainment, recreation and leisure for the serving wounded and the ex-service community with disabilities. As a result of the deployment of our Armed Forces in recent conflicts the need for our unique work grows no less.
We continue to provide support to about 10,000 men and women each year. Although records were lost in a fire following an air raid in 1941, we can be reasonably confident that since its formation about one million serving and ex-service men and women have benefitted from The Not Forgotten Association’s activities, helping to ensure that they are truly not forgotten.
HRH Princess Mary 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 WWI she was active in charity and canteen work.