Post relating to the British Red Cross in the United Kingdom

In the nick of time: ‘I feared giving birth in the car’

Red Cross volunteers Nigel and Stuart with Claire and baby Tori

As thousands of runners’ feet pounded the roads in the Asics Greater Manchester Marathon on 10 April, an expectant mum was desperately trying to find a way through the resulting traffic.

Claire Burke had gone into labour.

She had been driving to her mum’s for breakfast with her eight-year-old daughter Mia when she’d started to feel the contractions.

“At first I thought they were Braxton Hicks (false labour),” Claire said.

But as she tried to navigate through the road closures and diversions, the contractions grew stronger and stronger. Before long they were coming every minute.


Competition: Find a friend and write Poetry Together

Magnetic poetry by Steve Johnson

Magnetic poetry by Steve Johnson

Calling all children and young people! Grab a pen and team up with an older friend or relative for a new poetry competition. You could win a prize – and meet Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

‘Poetry Together’ is a fun competition to get people talking and sharing ideas.

Children and young people pair up with an older relative, carer or friend to create their own poetry.

All shortlisted entrants will be invited to the launch of the Manchester Children’s Book Festival in June. Here their poetry will be shared and celebrated by poet Carol Ann Duffy.

Be quick though – the closing date is Friday 29 April. 

Find out more and enter the competition

Get inspired with these refugee poems

Writing a poem can be tricky whether you’re working alone or in a pair. Here are some poems inspired by the refugee crisis to get you thinking. More

William Shakespeare and the WW2 prisoners of war

Cast put on a performanceFairies. Shipwrecks. Mistaken identities. It’s no wonder William Shakespeare was the playwright of choice for many  prisoners of war during the Second World War. We look back at some rather unusual performances…

During WW2 the British Red Cross sent more than 239, 500 books to prisoners of war (POW) libraries. The books had to cover a range of subjects to suit every taste.

Titles ranged from Shakespeare plays and classic novels to biographies, thrillers and even dictionaries.

There was a general shortage of books in the UK so the Red Cross library service relied on donations. The King and Queen donated 1,700 volumes with special inscriptions for POW libraries for Christmas 1941.

In May 1943 Penguin Books provided a selection of books for prisoners in Germany and Italy. Alongside Cold Comfort Farm and The Growth of Science prisoners could enjoy A life of Shakespeare by Hesketh Pearson.

Copies of The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, among other Shakespeare classics, found their way into the hands and onto the makeshift stages of POW camps across Europe.

First aid and fairytales: 90 years with Queen Elizabeth II

The Queen visits a TB patient

As our Patron Her Majesty the Queen celebrates her 90th birthday, take a peek at some of the quirky moments we’ve shared.

At a meeting on 11 June 1926, the British Red Cross council sent “hearty congratulations to the Chairman [Duke of York] on the birth of a Royal Princess.”

That little princess, Elizabeth, would grow up to have a long connection to the British Red Cross.

On 20 November 1947, Red Cross first aid teams helped the crowds during the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Volunteers lined the route from St James’s Palace to Buckingham Palace, treating 324 casualties. More

Five ways runners could save the day with first aid

Runners in a marathon

Whether you’re training for a marathon, a 10k or just enjoy the odd jog, as a regular runner you’re in a unique position to help others. But you might not be aware of it.

Being out and about early in the morning or in remote areas means you could be the first person to bump into someone in a first aid crisis. Would you be able to help?


Imagining the unimaginable: coping with a disaster

A fake disaster scene as part of the Exercise Unified Response training exercise.

Unfortunately disasters do happen. And when they do, you can rely on our help thanks to some gory make-up, a bunch of actors, and a pretend tube train…

You know what they say: practice makes perfect. When disaster does strike, we must be able to co-ordinate with the emergency services to reduce casualties and distress.

That’s why we travelled to Kent to put our volunteers’ skills to the test in Exercise Unified Response – Europe’s biggest emergency training exercise organised by the London Fire Brigade.


‘Knowing first aid helped me save a motorcyclist’s life’

Helen Cowen used her first aid skills to save the life of a motorcyclist who crashed outside her home.Not everyone could handle the sight of a bloodied motorcyclist with a badly severed leg. Helen Cowen could, and her first aid knowledge saved a man’s life.

As 13 March is Good Samaritan Day, what better time to tell you Helen’s story?

“I had decided to sit in the garden one evening when I heard a loud crash,” Helen said.

“At first I thought something had fallen off our recently renovated house. But as I walked to the front of the house, I could see a small crowd gathered on the pavement outside.”

The scene outside her house was upsetting.