Violet Gwendoline Hogbin (known as Gwen) was born on 25th October 1891 in Tunbridge Wells where she was brought up. Her father disappeared at sea on his way to Australia around 1897, so she and her younger brother were brought up by their maternal grandparents and aunts. Their mother meanwhile had to take up employment, and was a live-in diaper's assistant in Reigate, Surrey, in 1901.
Gwen was engaged to a Royal Flying Corps pilot in World War I, but he was killed, presumably in action. Like many other single women at that time, there was not much prospect of getting married, so her work later became her life.
In the 1920s, possibly after her mother died in 1923, she went to Whitelands Teacher Training College, which was then in Chelsea, London. Afterwards, she joined the Church Missionary Society, and was sent to Uganda in May 1927. She took over from two sisters named 'Brewer' at Mbarara, Ankole. They had founded the CMS girls' boarding school (Mbarara Girls' High School) there around 1900 after travelling, mostly on foot, the thousand miles from the coast. It is not far from the border with Rwanda.
There were no white teachers in the school, and the Ugandan ones were trained locally. The girls used to come in from the 'Bush' with nothing, and the school saw them clothed in simple dresses, and educated. They grew their own food on the premises. Some went on to be teachers and nurses, but ordinarily their fate would have been to be 'prepared' for marriage, from age 13.
In her report of 1928, Gwen mentions being in charge of the Boarding School with 40 boarders to clothe and feed; a Teachers' Training Class and hostel where girls from the villages are trained for village work; a day school and kindergarten; and 20 village schools which are dotted about the country within a radius of 50 miles. In addition there was a weekly prayer meeting for the women on Friday afternoons. By 1937, the school had grown to 90 boarders, 98 day girls and 73 infants, and there were more village schools.
Gwen was in Uganda from 1927 to 1940 when she died, and it was her whole life. She came back to England every few years to stock up with supplies for the school, including material for the dresses. Her last visit was in 1937 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Although knowing it would be fatal, she decided to return to Uganda. She died in Kampala on 15th May 1940. There is a memorial plaque to her in Kampala Cathedral. It reads:
'To the Glory of God and in loving memory of Violet Gwendoline Hogbin who for 13 years as a member of the Church Missionary Society faithfully served God, in seeking through Christian education the uplift of the women and girls in Ankole and towards the end in Kampala. Called to rest on May 15th 1940. Well done thou good and faithful servant'.
(Biographical information provided by Miss Hogbin's niece, Mrs Rosemary Stanley).
A collection of glass slides and a photograph. The slides were used by Miss V.G Hogbin to illustrate talks on her work when on furlough (leave of absence). The captions were provided by Miss Hogbin's niece.
Presented in November 1996 by Miss Hogbin's niece, Mrs Rosemary Stanley, who has retained three albums containing related photographs. Y3045S/19 was presented in February 2004 by Mrs Stanley.