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Famous Volunteers: Agatha Christie

Famous writer Agatha Christie became a nurse in the Voluntary Aid Detachment of the Red Cross Hospital and her volunteer work can be attributed to many a plot twists in her best-selling novels.

Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachments

90,000 volunteers worked at home and abroad during World War One as part of volunteer projects that provided vital aid to naval and military forces, caring for sick and wounded sailors and soldiers. The Red Cross had their own groups of volunteers called Voluntary Aid Detachments (often abbreviated to VAD). Voluntary Aid Detachment members themselves came to be known simply as ‘VADs’ and was made up of men and women, carrying out a range of voluntary positions including nursing, transport duties, the organisation of rest stations, working parties and auxiliary hospitals.

World War I

The start of the First World War saw many women entering the workforce in all sorts of different roles ranging from medics to teachers to bus conductors. As the number of injured servicemen rose, women were urged to join to the medical profession and medical degree were opened up to women for the first time. Agatha Christie, the queen of crime, was one of a number of famous celebrities to have done volunteer work during the war and said that it was “one of the most rewarding professions that anyone can follow”.

The early life of Agatha Christie

In 1914, Agatha Miller wed Colonel Archibald Christie, a Royal Flying Corps pilot and that same year World War I began.  Like many other patriotic young women the 24 year old Agatha began volunteering her time for the war effort. She became a nurse at a Red Cross Hospital in Torquay from 1914 to 1917, and eventually she took a post in the dispensary. There she gained an intimate knowledge of pharmaceutical drugs and their preparation and uses — including their lethal dosages.

The Queen of Crime

Her volunteer work during the war gave Agatha Christie a detailed insight into the use and misuse of various medicines and herbs as is reflected in many of her successful crime stories ever since. She wrote more than 70 detective novels as well as short fiction and have sold more than 2 billion copies of her books worldwide, making her one of the most successful volunteers ever.

Click here for more information on healthcare growth in South Africa and to find out how you can make a difference in the health sector through volunteering.

 

 

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