Edith Doris Barber was born in Wellington Shropshire in 1896. Her father was an Auctioneer and Estate Agent and she was one of five children. She was educated at a school in Eastbourne and trained as a children’s nurse.
During the war she joined the Society of Friends (Quakers) and worked with Grace Vullume ( the head of the Quaker relief) before then carrying out relief work in Holland assisting women and children refugees from Belgium. Doris also helped to establish children’s crèches so mothers could go to work in Amersfort, Ede and Utrecht.
Doris met her future husband in Holland and they had a tumultuous engagement which she broke off twice! Fortunately, true love won and they had a happy and loving relationship for over 50 years and had two children one of which is Richard Bedwell, who along with his wife Prue, contributed to the project.
Doris then returned to England where she worked for the Forestry Commission. It was in 1919 that she went to Damascus with the British Relief unit to Syria under Lord Lamington to establish workshops for Armenian women and Children which subsequently became self-supporting – in total 300 by Autumn 1919. Whilst Doris was in Damascus for several months she took many photos and wrote a piece for her school magazine giving an account of her experiences.
Doris is remembered as being a loving unselfish lady with an eye for those less fortunate than herself and especially children.
Doris Barber’s son Richard Bedwell shared the album he created about his mother Doris Barber’s work in Damascus in 1919 to set up workshops for the Armenian refugee woman and children there.
When Richard and his wife Prue travelled to Armenia in 2015, they gave the album to the curator of the Genocide Museum in Yerevan and another one to the curator of the museum in Stepanakert in Nagorno Karabakh. Another copy of the album has been kindly shared with CAIA, which we digitised to share with the public about Doris Barber’s incredible work with Armenian women and orphans.