Sophie Offord

Posts by Sophie Offord:

Art from the past: a dangerous journey in the First World War

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Stobart and Serbia retreat in First World War

‘Lady of the black horse’, by George Rankin

Just over 100 years ago, Mabel St Clair Stobart was forced to flee her field hospital in Belgrade, Serbia during the First World War.

One of many women who volunteered with the Red Cross, she was head of a hospital unit on the front line.

Events in the war were escalating. Serbia had been invaded – and lives and vital medical equipment were now in danger.

As head of the hospital, Mabel Stobart had to lead the sick and wounded, and the nurses, on an 800-mile escape over snow-capped mountains.

Yet most people have not heard her name – or know anything about her incredible life. More

Easy peasy cake recipe that’s 100 years old

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A young girl eats a cupcake

© PeopleImages

Let’s face it: cake is cool again.

But at the British Red Cross, we’ve been using cake to help change people’s lives for over a century.

After all, the quickest way to someone’s heart is through the stomach.

If you’re looking for ideas for your own tasty bake, here’s a delicious recipe crafted by some British Red Cross volunteers during the First World War.

They handed out this cake to soldiers on the front line, to line their stomachs and boost their spirits.

And now you can recreate it in just four easy steps.

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The man who took on the Nazis with a needle

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Black and white photo of a smiling POW taken by the Red Cross for his family

The Red Cross took this photo in March 1943 for Alexis’ family

Prisoner of war, top-secret spy and subversive stitcher – Cas certainly lived a full life. But his daughter had no idea about half of it, until she found a mysterious box in the attic.  

Please note: this article contains swear words

An 85-year-old man wanders along a Greek seafront. He looks with interest at an open-air exhibition: huge, blown-up photos of a World War Two battle on this very island from 50 years earlier.

One photo shows a sea of weary men, bracing themselves for years of German capture. Only one face is turned, looking straight at the camera.

The elderly man stops. He lets out a gasp.

At this point in the story, his daughter leans forward to tell me: “He had an extraordinary gift for being photographed.” More

Finding the family you never even knew you had

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Susan looks at old family photographs in her home

© Sam Whitwham/British Red Cross

Susan knew very little about her dad, who disappeared at the end of the Second World War. When she started to look for him, over 50 years later, she found more than she could have ever imagined.

When Susan was a little girl, her favourite possession was a small sepia photograph of her father. The last time she’d seen him, she was just five months old.

Susan treasured this photo and the few facts she knew – but, as she got older, it wasn’t enough.

In the years that followed, terrible and traumatic life events would push Susan to look for the dad she’d never known.

She had no idea that the search would end up with her finding a whole new family. More

Art from the past: the secret artists in prisoner of war camps

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Jenny Martin with the Changi quilt in 2015. © Teri Pengilley

Jenny Martin with the Changi quilt in 2015. © Teri Pengilley

Every month, we dust off a piece of art from the British Red Cross collection to give it the attention it deserves. This month, we look at some items crafted in the most desperate of settings – and the remarkable efforts it took to make them.  

In 1942, Daphne Davidson’s life changed forever.

She was living in Singapore with her husband. She had a good job and had just become pregnant.

But then Singapore surrendered to invading Japan. James left for the front and Daphne was sent to a prisoner of war (POW) camp.

The days were long, tedious and full of hard work and hardship.

So how did arts and crafts become an act of rebellion? More

Asylum in the UK – adding up the true costs

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Asylum seekers are called a lot of things in the press: freeloaders, scroungers, here to suck this country dry. So are we really the ‘El Dorado’ of Europe – a place of riches and gold that people flock to in droves?

If you feel like we give away too much of a good thing, then let’s take a moment to go through the bill.

Updated September 2015.

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Let’s lay down the law on asylum ‘illegals’

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Every week, there are headlines about illegal immigrants, sneaking under lorries and even hiding behind car seats – all so they can claim asylum in ‘soft-touch Britain’. Why don’t we send them back to their countries? Are they taking us for a ride?

To answer that, we really need to understand the law and process around asylum – and so does much of the media.

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Asylum seekers: are they living on easy street?

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It’s hard to picture what life is like for an asylum seeker in the UK. Some papers talk about five-star mod cons, while others write about dirt and grime.

So are they living it up in a luxury apartment, while you’ve bagged a rip-off bedsit? And do they jump to the front of the council house queue?

Let’s look at the housing an asylum seeker actually gets – and lift the curtain on those living conditions.

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