Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Around the WI



OUR president Yvonne welcomed members and visitors to the September meeting.

After discussing forthcoming events and outings, she welcomed our speaker for the evening, Gabrielle Elstow.

Gabrielle worked for House of Colour and had come along to advise us how not to become invisible as we get older by the use of colour.

This was demonstrated by two willing (not sure that’s quite right!) members who were used as models to show how different colours and shades harmonise with skin tone and eye colour and how some colours suit and others don’t.

The purpose for having a “colour consultation” is to give you confidence to buy only colours that suit so that clothes and make-up shopping will become much easier and ensure that mistakes will be avoided.

This was a fascinating talk and we were grateful to Gabrielle for leaving us with all her useful tips so that we don’t disappear into the background.

Benson WI meets at Benson village hall on the third Wednesday of the month at 7.30pm. Our next meeting will be on October 19, when we will welcome Vikki Baker to give us a talk on “Ugly apples”. If you are intrigued, please join us as you will be made most welcome. For more information, please call Lin on (01491) 836800.


ON Wednesday, September 21, president Adrienne Rance welcomed members and our guest speaker, Irum Gulzar, of Wokingham Borough Council, who stood in for Peter Baverstoke.

Her talk about recycling was very close to our hearts as we all appreciate the need to recycle waste.

Our borough council uses blue plastic bags for non-recyclables and black boxes for recyclable waste which includes paper/card, tins, aerosols and plastic bottles without lids as having a lid on can cause problems when the bottle is put through the machine at the recycling outlet and the lids are often made of a different grade of plastic which cannot be recycled again.

Countries in the European Union must recycle 50 per cent of their waste by the year 2020, according to an EU directive.

Five countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany have already achieved this target.

The UK as a whole is still working towards it. This is because while Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have reached this goal, England (with the greatest population) has not.

Each council has its own approach to recycling and South Oxfordshire is one of the best councils for recycling. It uses a mixture of coloured plastic bags, collected on alternate weeks, wheelie bins and a small green container for compost material. Initially, this can be confusing for a householder!

In Wokingham, the current recycling contract with Re3 continues until 2019, so no changes will happen in the foreseeable future.

In relation to food waste, there are no plans to set up a collection scheme due to financial restraints, although the three councils that use the Re3 scheme, Wokingham, Reading and Bracknell Forest, continue to try out different schemes.

The recycling from these councils is taken to Smallmead recycling centre in Reading where it is sorted by a manual and semi-automatic operation using vibratory trays (for card and paper), sieves, screens and an optical scanner (for plastics) and a magnet system (for metal which does not include foil).

The Re3 system stands for Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

For reducing, incentives have been introduced to encourage parents to change from disposable nappies to reusable ones.

For reuse, paints delivered to the recycling centre are sorted and an outlet is found for them. There is a partnership with the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed to do up furniture and then resell it.

Bottle lids can be collected at various places in Wokingham borough, such as Woodley and Wokingham libraries and the council’s Shute End offices. These are sold with the money going to the Mayor’s charities.

Even though the company is called the re3, it is in fact a five-tier scheme as the next stage is recovery where a proportion of the blue bags is incinerated to produce energy and lastly disposed to landfill.

Incentive schemes such as Greenredeem are used to encourage recycling and there are offers on composting bins to encourage more home recycling.

Recycling is such an important issue these days, so the talk was very enlightening and much appreciated.

Members then enjoyed a delicious tea prepared by Mary Romanes and Jenny Bendell.

They also gathered around the bring and buy table, where lots of bargains were snapped up.

The next meeting will take place at Crazies Hill village hall on Wednesday, October 19th at 2.30pm, when we will welcome guest speaker Marian Dante to talk about “Dropping the habit”. All are very welcome.


MARGARET SPRATLEY welcomed everyone back after the summer break and, once the evening’s business was concluded, welcomed guest speaker Bill Hamilton.

Bill’s career as a journalist and broadcaster spanned decades and continents.

His role as a special correspondent for the BBC took him to some of the world’s most harrowing trouble spots.

What came through very clearly was Bill’s compassion for the victims of the various disasters he reported on.

His exclusive reports from post-communist Albania sparked a huge international aid effort and he continues to work with different communities in the country to improve the lives of the people there.

Bill provided us with some fascinating insights into past world events. He left us with what seemed to be his mantra, “you can turn a bad story into a good story” and this is certainly what Bill has done in Albania.

The presence of film crews in Hambleden meant that our meeting was held in the sports and social club, where we were made most welcome.

Teas were provided by Liz Jarvis, Anne Langley and Jeanette Laming, very kindly assisted by Pat and Mavis.

The date of the next meeting is Thursday, October 13 at 7.30pm — “Wildlife on your doorstep.”


ON September 6, members were given a very inspiring and eloquent talk by Gaye Warren about the Bali Pink Ribbon charity, which she set up eight years ago after her own experience with breast cancer.

She and her husband retired to their home in Bali after many years of working in Indonesia.

After discussions with local people in Bali, she realised that although they did treat breast cancer, there was no education surrounding the subject and they had no awareness campaign or fund-raising.

There was a desperate need for information and education for the island women in self-awareness and dealing with changes in their bodies. They needed leaflets demonstrating breast self-examination.

Having taken part in the Pink Ribbon walks in England and joined the Bali International Women’s Association, Gaye decided that she would ask the association to sponsor a Pink Ribbon walk to raise funds for the women of Bali.

In 2009, 200 women turned up for the first event which was terribly exciting as she had imagined only about 25 ex-pats would come. Every year the number has increased.

This month the charity will organise its eighth walk. The island of Bali has a population of three to four million. The temple is the most important thing in the women’s lives, apart from their families, and a great deal of time is spent there.

Gaye was enchanted to see one wman walking to the temple with a beautiful offering balanced on her head while talking on a mobile phone.

The Bali Pink Ribbon support centre opened in 2013 thanks to a very generous donation from an Australian lady who set up Women Helping Other Women and raised a large amount in donations which she gave to Gaye’s charity.

The charity provides hope and reassurance in the form of seminars every two weeks, either in the centre or in the workplace, and roadshows that provide women with illustrated literature and demonstrations showing the best ways to carry out breast self-examination.

Gaye has to deliver this advice in Indonesian, which she admits is a challenge, and must make sure her translation is correct as often the women joke with her. She mentioned it was very nice to speak to a home team where language is not a problem.

The work Gaye has done in Bali has been so successful that doctors have travelled from Jakarta and Western Australia to see the centre, meet the staff and examine the model for the charity and are setting up similar schemes in their areas.

A demonstration of self-examination given by Surpal Grewal, a specialist cancer nurse, along with some good advice on diet, rounded off the evening.

Surpal helped Gaye during her treatment and she hopes to travel to Indonesia to see the work the centre is doing there.

Gaye had brought along pink ribbons, bracelets, a Balinese wrap and other products created by Balinese ladies for our members and a magnificent headdress for us to look at.

We gave a charitable donation to enable her to hire a bus for the day for ultrasound breast screening all around the island with a poster to say: “Sponsored by Mill Green, Wargrave WI. Spreading our fame far and wide.”

Jan French gave a very appreciative vote of thanks.

Future events are as follows: November 2 — “Birds on the move, the wonders of migration.” Speaker: Brian Clews.

December 7 — Christmas dinner, Sansom Room.

January 4 — Members’ evening.

Mill Green, Wargrave WI meets in the Hannen Room, Mill Green, on the first Wednesday of the month at 7.30pm unless indicated otherwise. Visitors are always welcome, so please do come along if there is a subject which particularly interests you. For more information, call Penny Hampton on 0118 940 3080.


AFTER the summer break we all gathered in the hall at Peppard church for our September meeting.

We listened avidly to Sue Nicholson as she read excerpts from her book In Common Memory, a brief history of Peppard from after the Second World War to last year.

Many of our ladies could remember people and places mentioned in the book and we all felt that it was important to remember village life as it used to be. She also talked about the Fish volunteer centre in Sonning Common and how we could volunteer to visit lonely members of the community.

Pauline Collins gave us an excellent tea and we discussed future outings.

Our next meeting will take place in the war memorial hall in Peppard on October 12 at 2pm when Rosemary Edginton will tell us about Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. Do come along and join us.


WE got back together in September after a great summer which included a delightful visit to Waterperry Gardens in July.

August was special as Diane Sutherland invited us to her garden by the river for our summer tea party. She also treated us to a trip on an umpire’s launch.

Catherine Sampson had come to give us a fascinating talk about “The Georgian kitchen”.

She started in 1714 with the arrival of transport, which meant, for example, that vegetables were available, it having been previously thought they were poisonous.

Tables were laid with tablecloths to the ground so that they could be tucked into waists or necks to catch the mess!

For the dessert course these were removed and fruits etc were served on the plain table.

All cooking was done on open fires as ranges did not come in until Victorian times.

In early Georgian times you had your own cutlery as silver was expensive and silver plate had not been invented.

It was interesting to hear that when forks were invented they changed the population’s jaw line as no longer did meat have to be torn apart.

Later in the 1700s glass was manufactured so glasses were laid on the table. Catherine then told us that commodes were placed in the passages for the ladies and were behind screens or even built into sideboards for the men.

Hannah Glass wrote the first cookery book for the middle classes. Sadly, she ended her life in a debtors’ prison.

Catherine had made us all one of her cakes, which included caraway seeds and brandy, and it was much enjoyed by the members.

She was warmly thanked for her enlightening talk.

Enid Light won the best bloom competition with a lovely dahlia.

The Remenham village fayre was held on Sunday this year. After a slow start it took off and the proceeds were much the same as last year.

The WI did the teas and made a little more than in previous years, which was very satisfactory.

The meeting closed after an excellent tea for which June Shelton and Daphne Austin were warmly thanked.


IN August we did not have a formal meeting, just a get-together with a very nice selection of scones for us all to devour and much chatting — in all, a very enjoyable afternoon.

Vice-president Margaret Seal welcomed all members and visitors to our meeting on September 7.

She said that she had received apologies from Margaret Pyle and Pat Denney who were away on the Denney siblings’ annual knees-up.

Secretary Mary Robinson said she had received an invitation from Sonning Glebe WI for two members to attend their birthday meeting. She also said that the WI calendar would be on sale at our October meeting at a cost of £4.50.

Mary said that a board was being sent round for members to sign if they wished to attend the harvest lunch in October.

Treasurer Judith Sharp said that she had sent a donation of £40 to the Denman Appeal and thanked everyone for their generosity.

The birthday buttonholes were distributed, one of which went to Phyllis Clinton as it was her birthday that day and we sang Happy Birthday to her.

The Scrabble and the walking groups continue and the book club still has a good membership. The cinema club was hoping to see Bridget Jones’s Baby.

Our attention was also drawn to various outings being advertised in the September issue of Berkshire WI News, including a visit to Winchester Cathedral and Christmas market and a Christmas crafts workshop being held at Grazeley village hall on October 15. There was also to be a lunch with speaker Joyce Meader, a historical knitting expert.

We then had our speaker Peter Hague who (with the aid of slides) told us about West Wycombe Park and the Dashwoods.

It was a very interesting to hear about the various baronets who had lived in the house right up to the present day. Thank you, Peter.

We then had the usual cup of tea and biscuit before the raffle was drawn and Margaret Seal formally closed the meeting.

We meet at St Barnabas’s Church hall in Emmer Green on the first Wednesday of every month at 2pm and will make any visitors very welcome.


ON Wednesday, September 21 president Joan Jolley welcomed members back after the summer break.

She started the meeting with the good news that we had raised £82 in our July raffle and the money would be sent to the Denman fund.

She said how much she had enjoyed the outing to Jane Austen’s house and the trip on the Watercress Line.

Two of our members had attended Sonning Common WI’s open day and Joan had been to the induction of the new Shiplake rector who had talked about the importance of the community.

Joan had also been a guest at Harpsden WI’s 75th celebration at Henley Golf Club where Andrew Peach had been the guest speaker.

The next group meeting will be with the new Beechwood Group at Peppard village hall on October 26.

The next walk will be on October 31, starting at Cookham Dean.

As Sue Lines was on holiday, Joan told the meeting about the forthcoming trip to Windsor in October and the Remenham WI Christmas fair.

She then reviewed items of interest from News & Views, including the visit to Winchester, the Christmas songs event in Oxford and the holiday in Ireland.

Two important items were covered in any other business — our 90th celebration next year and the Christmas lunch.

The hostesses for the afternoon were Pam Richardson and Eve Staley.

The speaker was Gayna Ballard, of Cats Protection. She explained the history of the charity previously called the Cats Protection League.

The charity started picking up stray cats in 1927 and now has 31 centres and 9,700 volunteers.

In 2015 it rehoused 44,000 cats and kittens and neutered 150,000 cats and kittens.

Gayna told us that many cats are abandoned because of family changes or behavioural or financial problems and some because of allergies, pregnancy etc.

Kittens are easier to rehome but older cats are better for families as they are already trained.

Cats Protection offers financial help and does rehoming visits to check locality and suitability. All cats are neutered, microchipped and vaccinated before they are rehomed.

Gayna told some sad stories of cats and kittens being sold on the internet when they are often too young to leave their mothers. The charity is trying to get sellers of cats registered.

There is an Animal Welfare Act of 2006 which legally requires owners to give cats and kittens a good diet, nice environment and suitable companionship.

She told members about the huge benefits of cat ownership, such as reducing stress levels, while children with pets develop better social skills.

She finished her talk by explaining that Cats Protection is always looking for volunteers to foster the cats and kittens and to help with fund-raising.

After the usual tasty tea, the winner of the flower of the month competition was announced as Lynn Boros with Frances Lefebure second. the winner of the competition for a photo of a cat was Rosemary Appleby.

The speaker at the October meeting will be Phil Cook talking about “Getting knotted”. The competition will be for a pin cushion. Visitors are always welcome.


JENNY WARD, our president, opened our September open meeting and welcomed 39 members and nine visitors.

She said it was lovely to see everyone after the summer break and welcomed visitors from Shiplake WI and Stoke Row WI as part of our newly formed Beechwood Group.

The usual business followed, which included the treasurer’s report and the fund-raising report.

Anne Croxson outlined our current funds and Gill Hayward updated the members on the fund-raising projects.

Various car boot sales and proceeds from our September coffee morning raised a fantastic figure of £691, which has been forwarded to the Denman Appeal.

Thanks were given to all our members who had contributed their time and support, which had been much appreciated by the Oxfordshire Federation of WIs.

Gill informed members that a decision would be made at the end of the year about which local community projects would benefit from our fund-raising activities.

Thanks were given to members for their donations to the sales tables and their continued support.

Our darts club meets at the Hare & Hounds pub twice a month.

It is an evening of fun and competition and lots of chat and laughter too. The landlord Mick and his staff make us very welcome. A cup will be awarded at the end of the year to the person who has scored the most “doubles out” as this part of the game is obviously the most challenging!

Names were taken to see who would be interested in forming a Scrabble group and it is hoped that this will be well attended as there were quite a few names collected.

There is to be a group meeting at Peppard WI on October 26 and a ballot will have to be drawn to see who the lucky four to attend will be.

We were told that our Christmas lunch will be at Badgemore Park Golf Club in Henley on December 6.

Sue Hedges outlined some of the trips and events in News & Views and that details were on the information table.

We were then introduced to our speaker for the evening, Mary Gregory, from the Associated Country Women of the World, which she told us was a worldwide organisation of country women’s societies to which the National Federation of WIs supports and donates.

It was founded in 1929 and strives to improve the livelihoods of rural women and communities worldwide through sustainable, gender-focused development. WI members, groups and federations can belong in their own right.

The WI’s support has enabled the charity to support many projects worldwide, for example, teaching women to weave, farm, feed their families and many other ways they can improve their lives by earning a living and making the best use of the materials they have access to.

The latest project is to provide a source of clean, safe water to 19 grandmothers in a community in Georgia where the only way of getting water is from local ponds.

ACWW also funds small-scale development projects which are requested by local women to suit their needs.

Funds have been received from shows like the Great British Bake Off, treasure hunts, garden parties and many more inventive fund-raising projects.

This charity is supported enthusiastically by the WI at all levels.

In July 64 kilos of coins which were no longer legal tender and foreign currency collected by Oxfordshire Federation members raised £1,241.38.

We were all encouraged to continue with our collections of pennies from flower of the month competitions, loose change and foreign currency.

Mary spoke of her work with the charity and of her visits to various places to see first-hand how the charity’s money is spent.

She showed us slides of women who had benefited from ACWW support and it was obvious how much their lives had changed for the better as they looked happy and productive.

Mary spoke very passionately about her work with the charity and our appreciation was shown by long applause.

The vote of thanks was given by Anne Chivers.

At the end of the evening donations of coins and foreign currency were made by members and their visitors to Mary to help with the water project in Georgia.

After the raffle, refreshments were served and Jenny thanked everyone for coming.


AT our September meeting we heard about the history and beginnings of the National Parks of England and Wales.

There were 10 originally designated in 1951 and since then three more have been added, the most recent in 2010.

Our speaker showed photographs of each of them and explained in detail why they were set up — to share beautiful open spaces with everyone having access.

This was our last meeting in the village hall while it is being refurbished. We will move to the church or the Jubilee Pavilion at Gallowstree Common for the next few meetings.

Our belongings are to be packed up by members and helpers and stored or taken with us.

We have a lunch to cater for in October and members signed up to help with this fund-raiser.

In the first week of October we have several extra events — swimming, book and craft groups and a new games group, whose members will meet to play table games in some Checkendon members’ houses.

We were asked if we wanted to discuss putting a resolution forward for national consideration and this will be followed up if anyone does want to.

We are planning to have a Christmas lunch out and there is a group meeting coming up where we will meet the “new” WIs in the Beechwood Group.

Our next meeting will be in Stoke Row church with a visit from a papercrafter who will show us how to make some interesting items with paint and paper. Visitors are always welcome but please check where we are before coming along!


WE enjoyed a social evening for our September meeting, playing bingo with plenty of prizes to be won.

The members held their pen in one hand and a glass of bubbly in the other as we had lots to celebrate.

Many of the members had celebrated a “big” birthday this year, some had become great-grandmothers or grandmothers and others had a significant wedding anniversary. The remainder just celebrated still being able to do the things they really enjoyed.

The business side of the meeting was making the final arrangements for the group visit to St George’s Chapel at Windsor.

Another outing will be following up on a previous talk on stained glass windows. A guided tour around the colleges in Oxford has also been arranged.

This month’s speaker is Rev Adam Stevenson, our local Methodist minister, who will give us an insight into “An ordinary day”.

Visitors are always welcome at our meetings, which are held at Watlington town hall on the second Wednesday of the month at 7.30pm. For more information, please call Kath Gomm on (01491) 612939.


NORMAL business meetings resumed on the third Tuesday in September after the summer break. Nineteen members and two visitors came along to listen to our speaker Daniel Akam, from the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust.

He spoke about the considerable amount of work that goes into caring for our local wildlife and encouraging conditions to help preserve some of our local rarities.

We then heard about “Hedgehogs — and what you can do to help them” with good advice on how to make our gardens hedgehog-friendly.

A hedgehog competition was won by Liz Gibson, who also came first, jointly with our president, in the flower of the month competition. The raffle winner was new member Lesley Landen.

Whitchurch Hill WI ran a coffee morning at the Art Café in Whitchurch, providing home-made cakes and tea/coffee as well as a raffle, which seemed to be enjoyed by all.

Members are being persuaded to donate to our own Denman College.

Smartie tubes were distributed with a request that after the Smarties have been eaten, the tubes are filled with 20p coins and returned to our treasurer, who will collect them before December and send the resulting funds as a donation.

Our next business meeting will be on October 18, when we shall hear about “A passion for pearls” by Frances Benton. In November we shall hear about the re-introduction of red kites in the Chilterns. Monthly meetings take place at Goring Heath Parish Hall, opposite St John’s Church on the B471, on the third Tuesday of the month, starting at 10am.

We have a wide variety of speakers and activities and visitors are welcome. For more information, please call 0118 984 1696.


ANN LARDEN welcomed members and two visitors, Wendy Muchamore and Sally Herbert, to the meeting on September 21.

We heard the sad news of the death of Vera Clift, a member for many years. Our thoughts are with her family.

Shirley Bryant will be our Thames Valley convenor for the next three years and we thank her for all her work on our behalf.

We didn’t have a speaker this month, so members had brought items that were memorable and spoke about them. These included a photograph of a castle, where a member spent some years of her childhood, and tales of the ghost that haunted it!

We had a thimble that had been found buried in the ground where there had been no housing and a Welsh doll that had been in a car on its travels along with a tortoise and budgerigar!

There was a honey pot which had sparked off a collection and an interest in beekeeping. Vintage car rallies were the inspiration behind a small brass car. A birth certificate told the poignant story of a much-wanted baby’s adoption.

Bloom of the month was won by Carole Shelley-Allen.

The lunch club would meet at the Red Lion in Woodcote this month.

New members are welcome. We meet at the village hall on the third Wednesday of the month.


THE August meeting was held in the garden of secretary Shirley Weyman.

The day was comfortably warm and enabled those who like the sun to top up their tans.

An anagram game was deployed around the garden, which helped members to mingle and meet those they didn’t already know.

A bring and share tea produced the usual array of delectable food.

Shirley was thanked for her hospitality and presented with a beautiful orchid plant.

The September meeting was held at Henley Golf Club to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Harpsden WI.

A delightful buffet lunch was enjoyed by 40 members and guests, who included the county chairman Pauline Goddard, the convenor of the South Chiltern Group and the president of Shiplake WI.

Andrew Peach was the speaker. He is the weekday breakfast show presenter on BBC Radio Berkshire and lives in Peppard Common.

He knows Harpsden well having held birthday parties at the village hall for his two children, who are aged 10 and eight, and he has also played both golf and cricket in the village.

Andrew came to the area from the West Midlands and from the age of 15 had always wanted to be “on the radio”.

He said it is a fun job and he doesn’t really mind the early mornings. He also revealed that he is a qualified piano teacher and a member of Mensa.

Members asked lots of questions, including who was in charge of the annoying background music that so often accompanies the traffic reports, the weather reports and the sports news etc.

He replied that it was he who hit the button for the music and he promised that he would try to do something about it in the future.

Judith Young thanked Andrew for his talk and said she was glad that he had filled the “blank canvas” that he had spoken about on the radio at 8.30am that day when he had asked listeners to suggest topics for his talk.

Pauline Goddard proposed the toast to Harpsden WI and Pat Eades replied.

Pat had kept business to the absolute minimum, urging members to read News & Views extra carefully and to use the new county website.

The lucky recipients of the draw for £100 bursaries to Denman College were Patricia Williams and Shirley Weyman.

The celebration was a very happy occasion and the afternoon ended with a slice of the celebration cake accompanied by a glass of Prosecco.

The cake was cut by Shirley Weyman, who is the longest-serving member of Harpsden WI.

The next meeting will be on October 12 when a former contestant on MasterChef will be the speaker. The competition is for a decorated cupcake. As usual, the meeting will commence at 2.30pm.

A special welcome has been extended to the ladies of the now (sadly) defunct ladies’ section of Harpsden Royal British Legion, so it is hoped that they will be able to attend.


OUR president Val welcomed members back after the summer break and introduced a new member, Patricia.

She praised our small WI for raising £152 at our cream tea event in July. This will go towards the £220 we aim to raise for the Denman College Appeal.

Val described the lovely Huxley Cup floral art competition at Greys Court, which was won by Gwent with Oxfordshire coming third. The theme was “Reflections — Lady Brunner and the WI”.

It was noted with regret that a former member, Lea Hughes, had died at the grand age of 104.

Janet, our secretary, displayed the colourful twiddle muffs she had made for dementia patients and encouraged other members to get knitting.

She had also knitted metre-square blankets for the premature baby unit at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading and told us sufficient toiletries had been collected for another supply of emergency bags to be made up. All these items would be donated in due course. Some forthcoming interesting and enjoyable events arranged by the Oxfordshire Federation of WIs were brought to our attention, including Kew Gardens at Christmas, an old time music hall event at Denman College and a holiday in Ireland.

Will Readings was then invited to tell us about his life as a “human mole”. Leaving school at 15 with little to show for it, he spent three or four years repairing lawnmowers. By the age of 20 he had achieved his City and Guilds for welding.

After having several jobs over the next few years, he answered an advertisement in Construction News for a skip runner.

He almost turned the job down as it was only for five days a week and he was used to a seven-day week. His new boss told him that after five 10-hour shifts he’d be glad of two days off.

His worst job was the first one, tunnelling under the Thames in Oxford. The miner didn’t turn up so Will was promoted to miner, receiving his training on the job.

The tunnels were a metre or 1.2 metres in diameter, hand dug, under roads, rivers and railways (Will’s alternative to the 3Rs) for water, sewerage or services, cutting costs and avoiding the disruption of open trenches.

Will explained how he worked within a shield, digging ahead, placing the three segments to make the next ring of the tunnel, before moving the shield forward to begin digging again. The two other team members, the skip runner and crane driver, dealt with the spoil.

Providing no human activity had occurred in the ground around the tunnel all was well.

However, he’d had to contend with water ingress and, under Grymes Dyke, gas.

Will claimed that no one can reach the West Country by road or rail without going over one of his tunnels. He had many stories to tell: tunnelling through a disused beer cellar when, disappointingly, he only found a brass beer tap; how an Irishman, on hearing there were three people in the tunnel, told them to send half of them up.

Questions from members came thick and fast.

Our competition was for a fossil which caused some amusement to do with “old fossils at the WI”!

On October 19 we will be “Capturing the essence of Henley” with Jim Donahue. Come and join our harvest tea in Greys village hall, beginning at 2.30pm.

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