WITH warnings food shortages - and maybe worse - may be on the cards as the result of the coronavirus pandemic, one Monmouth woman may be more prepared than most.

In 2012 Claud Fullwood spent 40 days living on World War Two rations - and says she believes she learned how solidarity rises from hardship.

The mother-of-two took on the challenge to raise money for international aid charity CAFOD, which she worked for at the time, and to raise awareness of poverty around the world - and learned some important lessons along the way.

South Wales Argus:

Claud Fullwood. Pictures: Jonathon Hill

Since writing a book on her journey, which includes interviews with those who experienced rationing in wartime Britain, she believes the lessons learned from her experiences are more important now than ever.

While she said she was concerned by scenes of empty shelves in supermarkets in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Mrs Fullwood said she understood where the panic had come from.


“We’ve lived for so long in a metaphorical social isolation and in a culture of looking after ourselves," she said. “It’s a concerning time and sometimes people make irrational decisions in times like this, but we must learn from those who have gone through these times before us."

She said her 40-day challenge had given her a small insight into how the least fortunate in society - those who are struggling more than ever at the moment - live.

“When I first did the challenge it was simply a voluntary break from my day-to-day existence," she said.

“Seeing statistics of high numbers of poverty spurred me on, and those numbers have risen higher.

“According to Trussel Trust, a record number of people are needing to access foodbanks right now, with half of the world’s poverty-stricken people making up 70 per cent of the food producers.

“It also helped that I had a fascination with style and culture in the 1940s, and I wanted to see the world from their perspective."

She continued: “What I learned is that rationing can actually be very nutritious, and was designed to make sure everyone had exactly enough. It worked.

“It taught me that humans have the wherewithal to overcome hardship through community and resourcefulness, but also that rationing can become a joyful thing.”

Mrs Fullwood’s book is a six-week reflective journey, with each chapter beginning with a diary entry.

It’s a personal account of a personal story that taught her things she never expected.

South Wales Argus:

Claud Fullwood. Pictures: Jonathon Hill

“I was so lucky to speak to various people who had experienced rationing in those times, and one friend even photocopied her mother’s wartime cookbook, which gave me a great insight into tips on how to ration.

“It taught me that humans have the wherewithal to overcome hardship through community and resourcefulness, but also that rationing can become a joyful thing.”

For Mrs Fullwood, the lessons that can be learned from the wartime generation should not only be preserved, but followed, now more than ever.

“I feel humbled to have got an insight into the wartime generation,” she said. “I fear that when people talk about World War Two it is in a dewy-eyed manner, but community cannot be the icing on the cake, it needs to be the bedrock.

“It would be a tragedy, especially during times like these, to forget that great kitchen-table wisdom.”

The lessons learned from her challenge are reflected in her life now, which she says makes her “much happier”.

“These days, while I wouldn’t say I was poor, I have to think about the budget constantly and make it stretch,” she said.

“Life has changed immeasurably but it was my own decision and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

You can purchase her book, The Rations Challenge: Forty Days of Feasting in a Wartime Kitchen, online or at most bookshops.