The diary of a Clitheroe nurse whose life was transformed by the outbreak of World War II is raising vital funds for a local charity.

'Elsie’s Wartime Diary', retells the war years according to Elsie Honeywell, who grew up in Salthill Road.  

It has been published by her son, Bill, as a work of social history, with money going towards the Rosemere Cancer Foundation.

At the outbreak of the war, Elsie, who was born in August 1923, was just 16 and about to leave the grammar school.  

Her response was to help the war effort as best she could and so Elsie decided to train as a nurse and was sent to the now closed Whittingham Hospital near Preston to look after injured soldiers and later on, prisoners of war.

Elsie’s son, Bill Honeywell BEM, founder of Honeywell Estate Agents and a long serving member of Clitheroe Rotary Club, had the diary printed last year following Elsie’s death in September 2022 at the age of 99. 

Bill said: “Mum often talked about those war years. We – my two brothers, my sister and I – encouraged her to write her memories down as a piece of family history.

“We wouldn’t exist had it not been for the war as strolling through Castle Park one day, mum met my dad Roy.

"He was from Buckfastleigh in Devon but as a member of the Royal Engineers, he had been posted to Low Moor Mill, which had been requisitioned as one of their training centres.”

He said “Initially, dad was only here relatively fleetingly. He was sent back to Chatham in Kent before going out to India, Burma and Sumatra.

"He was eventually involved in the release of Japanese prisoners of war and only came back to England in September 1946 – a good year after the war had ended – after being hospitalised with an injury. 

“He and mum married at the old Trinity Methodist Church, now the Emporium, in November 1946 and settled in Clitheroe. Dad went on to work for ICI. He passed away in 2017 aged 94.”

Bill and his younger brother Richard edited and brought her story up-to-date in a 75 page book with 17 photo illustrated chapters.

Their additions detail Elsie’s later life for after becoming a full-time mum for a number of years, Elsie worked as a receptionist at Clitheroe Medical Centre. 

She became a guide leader and WI member and later met Princess Anne in her role as a founder member of Clitheroe Save the Children Fund. Elsie also became a Rosemere Cancer Foundation fundraiser as well as a grandma and great-grandma.

Bill, a double cancer survivor, said: “Friends outside of the family that we showed the diary to enjoyed it so much that they wanted to buy their own copies so I had more printed.

“I am now selling copies to raise funds for Rosemere Cancer Foundation, which is a charity mum supported and which I have also long supported. Copies of the diary have a cover price of £8 each but because I have decided to cover the print cost, all the money from sales is going to charity. 

"This has led many people to generously pay a surplus. So far, ‘Elsie’s Wartime Diary’ has raised almost £2,000 for Rosemere Cancer Foundation.”

The Rosemere Cancer Foundation works to bring world class cancer treatments and services to cancer patients throughout Lancashire.

To order a copy of 'Elsie’s Wartime Diary,' contact Bill via email at or via Facebook Messenger.