Monday, 19 March 2018

Around the WI

Around the WI


WE gathered on September 20 for an open meeting where our president welcomed 17 members and 14 visitors, including local friends and a few WI members from Berinsfield and Clifton Hampden.

With the singing of Jerusalem and the business part of the meeting over, members enjoyed refreshments while our speaker prepared for his talk on “The remarkable story of the Windsor chair”.

Stewart Linford started by telling us how he developed a passion for woodworking at a very young age.

Then he discussed the samples of chairs that he had brought with him.

These included a standard Windsor chair and Windsor stool, a millennium chair made of yew and “bog” oak, a golden jubilee chair based on a design from 1690 and a Churchill chair with a secret compartment for cigars.

Stewart also discussed the cleaning of wood and the future of chair making and told us about a visit he made to Buckingham Palace with other members of his industry.

He concluded by reciting from Winston Churchill’s famous “their finest hour” speech while sitting in the Churchill chair, dressed and looking very much like the great man himself.

There followed a lively question and answer session.

This was a very interesting and extremely humorous talk that made for a very enjoyable meeting.

Yesterday (Thursday, October 5), representatives of Benson WI attended the Oxfordshire Federation’s speaker selection day at Horton-cum-Studley to find interesting speakers for next year’s programme.

On October 17, the Federation will make use of Benson parish hall for a Music Tasters Day with Barry Collett featuring the music of Bedřich Smetana, the Czech composer. Tickets are available through the Federation’s office in Tackley.

On October 19, Benson WI will cater at the lunch for the Bullingdon Disabled Club’s annual meeting, to be held in Benson, as we have been done for a number of years.

Our next meeting will be on Wednesday October 18, when Kevin Little will talk to us about “Fishy tales and eccentric customers”.

Kevin, who was born in Reading during the great freeze of 1947, has been a fishmonger in the town centre for 45 years.

His business is The Smelly Alley Fish Company, based in Union Street, and he is still involved in its day-to-day running.

He is well-known on the speaker circuit and gives talks to many organisations.

November’s programme includes a talk by Biff Raven-Hill, author of The Wartime Housewife.

Full details of the programme can be obtained from programme organiser Brenda Hallett on (01491) 838584 or from Sue Brown (publicity) on (01491) 837885.

Visitors and new members are very welcome and assistance can be offered for anybody will mobility problems.


MEMBERS enjoyed serving at the Caversham Court tea kiosk over two weekends during the summer break.

Thankfully, the weather was very good to us and we enjoyed talking with the many visitors to the gardens.

At the end of the weekends, the remaining cake was taken to the Salvation Army hostel to be given to the homeless.

Our September meeting is traditionally very social with lots of news to catch up on (summer holidays and the like!) and a harvest auction.

It is nice to be able to share what we’ve been growing in the garden. This year, it seems, apple trees have done very well.

Next month, we will welcome a visitor from the Thames Valley Air Ambulance and hold a cupcake competition.

Ladies are very welcome to visit our friendly group.

We meet at Church House, Prospect Street, Caversham, on the third Thursday of the month at 7.30pm, which helps avoid childcare issues.

There is usually easy parking and a lift to the first floor meeting room (building works may be temporarily affecting this).

For more information, visit or search for “Caversham WI”.

Alterntaively, please call our secretary Romayne Flight on 0118 947 5176.


MEMBERS came together again after our summer break for our September meeting and were greeted by our president Hilary Morrison. Tea, coffee and biscuits were ready for folk to enjoy and Hilary introduced our guest speaker Toni Kent.

We were entertained by a very amusing lady talking about her life from a council estate to the present.

Hilary thanked Toni and appreciation was shown by members in the usual way.

The coffee morning at the Tipsy Bean was well attended and the visit to the John Lewis Heritage Centre in Cookham was very interesting and was followed by lunch at a local pub.

The book club had met at the Caversham Rose as usual.

The knitting group is due to have its first meeting on October 10.

A visit to Kensington Palace was to take place on Wednesday (October 4), meeting at Reading station.

Quite a busy time for our ladies, who meet at Caversham Methodist Church hall on the corner of Highmoor Road and the Woodcote Road in Caversham Heights on the first Tuesday of the month at 7.30/7.45pm.

We welcome ladies who would like to “tip their toes” into the WI. For more information, send an email to


ON Wednesday, September 20, vice-president Maureen Rothery opened the meeting by welcoming members, four guests and speaker James Birdseye, whose talk was entitled “Life of a paramedic”.

James, who grew up in Wargrave, works for South Central Ambulance Service.

He gave an enthusiastic and passionate presentation about his 13 years’ experience with the service.

James studied marketing at university and also attended a first aid course, which inspired him to subsequently attend a paramedic training course in 2008 before qualifying in 2011.

He is based at Wexham Park Hospital, which serves East Berkshire and South Buckinghamshire. South Central Ambulance Service provides an emergency service to the seven million people of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Hampshire with 608 vehicles and 3,600 staff.

It receives about 555,000 999 calls a year and another 1.2 million calls to 111, the non-emergency number.

These calls are received by clinical co-ordination centres, which use a system of triage and computer-aided despatch. The chosen ambulance is sent all the details to its computer screen.

Last year, 540,000 ambulances carrying a paramedic and assistant were despatched to incidents.

The staff take turns to drive, aiming to get to an incident as soon as possible using GPS navigation.

Once there, the paramedic can use the equipment to deliver initial treatment to the casualty.

The aim is to extend the hospital to the site during the critical first hour, the “golden hour”, when early treatment has most impact on survival rates. Where the casualty is remote or difficult to access by road, the air ambulance helicopter is despatched, carrying a paramedic plus a doctor with more extensive equipment to treat casualties. Both can arrive at the incident within minutes.

Over the past 14 years the contents and equipment on an ambulance have been vastly increased and the paramedics have been trained to do much more.

After the paramedic has done all they can for the patient, the ambulance will be directed to the hospital with the best resources. It could be the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading or Wexham Park in Slough, depending on resources. If it is a major trauma patient, it will be the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford or Southampton General.

James loves his profession, helping others in their moment of need, whether it’s a patient having a heart attack or an elderly person who has fallen over and just needs a helping hand to stand up.

After question time, we enjoyed a lovely tea provided by Helen Perry and Liz Cope.

The next meeting will be held at Crazies Hill village hall on Wednesday, October 18 at 2.30pm, when Catherine Sampson will give a talk about “Georgian cooking”.


WE are always hearing stories about people being cheated out of money, sometimes their entire savings, by fraudulent scammers.

So for our meeting on September 20 we invited Sgt Kevin Hickman, of Thames Valley Police, and his wife Daisy, a trading standards officer, to come and talk to us about phone and internet fraud and how we could prevent this happening to us.

Just how vulnerable we are was an eye-opener! The average age of a scam victim is over 65 years and it is thought that more than 53 per cent of these have been targeted by scammers.

These statistics are an underestimate as less than five per cent of victims report these crimes as they are often too ashamed.

Moreover, once anybody has been successfully targeted, their details are immediately passed on or sold to other criminals, who inundate them with other scams.

Scammers often target the lonely, the vulnerable and those who are isolated socially.

Physical or mental illnesses such as depression, dementia, physical or mental deterioration and social withdrawal increase vulnerability and scams have led victims to commit suicide.

The criminals work by deceiving and conning people and also by intimidation and bullying.

Kevin and Daisy grabbed our interest with a well-thought out combination of a short video and clear slides, passing round examples of real scams and interactive role play.

We learnt that scamming has become one of the commonest crimes and it is estimated that scams cost this country between £5 and £10billion per year, a stunning amount.

Our speakers explained how, for example, criminals knock on our door to “kindly” tell us that our roof is falling down and then charge us a fortune to “mend” it.

There are also letters that arrive through the post, informing us that we have won a big prize or a lottery — if we will only send them a little money.

Unsolicited emails try to convince you that you have unpaid bills — just give them your bank details, or that your computer has been hacked — just allow them to access it and they will cure it!

We learnt how to resist: if it feels wrong, it is wrong; if it’s too good to be true, it is! Immediately hang up the phone/close the door/delete the email and never, ever, part with any money.

Then report the scam to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or Trading Standards on 01865 815000.

We became Friends Against Scams and have the certificates to prove it.

This was an important subject that was well explained and we are very grateful to Kevin and Daisy. We were fascinated and as we left were still talking about it, clutching door stickers and information leaflets for our friends.

Our next meeting will be held at Greys Green village hall on October 18 at 2.30pm and will feature “Happy scrappy patchwork”, an interactive workshop by Christine Green.

Visitors are always welcome — there is plenty of parking outside the hall. For more information, please call 07508 464417 or email us at


THERE is always a huge amount to talk about and catch up on in September following the summer break in August.

Our WI is very active. In addition to our monthly meetings, which include a wide variety of speakers, we also plan many events and workshops.

As a taster of things to come before the end of the year, we are organising visits to craft fairs, an afternoon tea treat, an evening with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Albert Hall, a workshop on “writing wills” and a Christmas craft workshop.

We are also planning our own Christmas party for our December meeting.

Regular events that are run for and by our members include a monthly book club, a walking group, an art group and a drama group. Our speaker in September was furniture maker Stewart Linford who gave an informative and highly entertaining talk entitled “The Windsor”, the inside story of our national chair.

Stewart told us about his love of wood and furniture making and had brought along many samples of his work for us to see.

Our next meeting will be held at Hambleden village hall on Thursday, October 12 at 7.30pm when our guest speaker will be Dr Brenda Harold talking about “The new genetics — dream or nightmare?”

We welcome new members. For more information about Hambleden WI and to see our programme, please visit


ON September 13 our president Pat Eades welcomed the members who had managed to brave a torrential rainstorm to attend the meeting.

News & Views plus various notices were brought to our attention.

There will be an outing to White Waltham Airfield on November 17 to look at historic aircraft and a trip to London to see An American in Paris on December 2. The annual WI lunch will be held at Henley Golf Club on November 8.

There will be a bring and buy stall at the October meeting and the lunch club will meet at the Maltsters Arms in Rotherfield Greys.

Suzanna Rose spoke about a previous WI resolution concerning the severe shortage of nurses in the NHS and has taken up the concerns with the Oxfordshire Federation’s management.

Pat then introduced our speaker, Julia Miles, whose talk was called “The ambassador’s wife’s tale”, based on a book she has written.

Julia gave us an entertaining account of her life as an ambassador’s wife.

Her life was more like, in her words, a “rag bag and cocktail wardrobe” and she had to be available at the drop of a hat to host any number of foreign dignitaries and provide a gourmet meal and welcome.

She was posted to numerous countries with her husband, often with very short notice.

She experienced difficulty raising a family with no such luxury as online ordering and had to buy shoes and clothes for all her children that would last the entire tour of duty, which could be up to three years.

Her natural curiosity and determination led her to set up a group in Saudi Arabia for local wives which helped to forge new ties with the community.

After the talk we all enjoyed a cup of tea and a selection of cakes.

The competition was for a souvenir from abroad. The joint winners were Sue Taylor and Ruth Norman with Joan Hoyes third.

Our next meeting will be on October 11 when Melanie King will talk about “Tea, coffee and chocolate: beverages that changed a nation”.

We meet at Harpsden village hall on the second Wednesday of the month at 2.30pm. New members are very welcome.


WE were delighted again to welcome several new members to our September meeting.

Katie, our president, went through any business, including asking for contributions for our stall at the Henley Christmas Festival, which we are excited to be a part of.

Our speaker was the lovely Sarah Smith, of Red Earth holistic therapies.

Herbal medicine is the oldest and still most widely used system of medicine in the world.

Sarah, who studied medical herbalism at university, gave us a very insightful and interesting talk on how using herbs to help treat the healthcare challenges we face daily can be restorative and provide long-term relief from both physical and mental disorders.

Treatment is holistic and is centred on the care of each patient as an individual.

There were lots of questions which Sarah stayed to answer and we all continued over a glass of wine and some delicious cakes baked by Nic and Chris — thank you.

Our next meeting will be held at King’s Arms Barn on October 20 at 7.30pm, when we will learn the art of wreath making just in time to make some beautiful Christmas creations.

Please come and join us. For more information, email


STEVE MOLL acquired his first hive of honey bees 10 years ago, courtesy of an elderly neighbour called Viola, who wanted to pass on the craft of beekeeping to the next generation.

Since then, he has since built up a considerable collection of hives — 70 in all — and now produces honey and honey wax candles for sale.

With the help of his wife Viv, Steve looks after the bees and she makes the honey and produces the candles. It is a hobby they both greatly enjoy.

Steve’s first swarm of bees was taken from the lower branches of a bramley apple tree in the centre of Wallingford, having been spotted by Viola, and was driven home in a box wrapped in sheet.

Steve has since become quite absorbed in his hobby and is now extremely knowledgeable.

Honey bees do not hibernate and can be seen in the middle of winter when the weather is mild — not to gather pollen but so that they do not “soil” their hives as they are very clean insects.

They have an incredibly complex class structure.

The structure of the hive is also complicated. Between each frame there is 8mm or 9mm space to accommodate easy movement for two bees passing and easy removal of the frame.

Each beeswax honeycomb structure is strong and light. The bees make the honeycomb structure from secreting tiny little pieces of wax from their abdomen and moving it to their mouths and moulding it all together.

They work in groups to generate heat and work from the top and the bottom of the frame, all meeting beautifully in the middle despite the fact that they work in the dark.

There is an area in each honeycomb section designated as a nursery space and in each of the cells the queen bee lays an egg and the worker bees feed each little larva with a mixture of protein, pollen and honey.

The larvae quickly grow and the worker bees make a cocoon around them for protection.

The rest of the honeycomb section is used to store the honey and pollen to feed the colony over the winter. Steve gave us many more facts on bees and beekeeping and answered questions before the meeting closed and the sale of honey and candles took place.

In November Brian Clews will return to speak about Britain’s mammals. He is a very popular speaker and an immensely knowledgeable wildlife expert.

We look forward to welcoming visitors and friends to our meetings.


AT our September meeting, Michael McLeod gave us a fascinating account of “Women in the Civil War”, taking extracts from his forthcoming book.

Not much has been told about women at this time and we all felt more knowledgeable after listening to Michael and looking at his slides.

We were extremely grateful to him for stepping in at the last minute and look forward to having him talk to us again in the future.

Shirley Hartley Booth provided a beautiful flower display and Lenora Bowden and Barbara Scullard provided an enjoyable tea.

Our next meeting will be at the harvest lunch at 1pm on Wednesday, October 11 when Annie Assheton will talk to us about her experiences on MasterChef. We look forward to it.


AS our president was away, our vice-president Judy Palmer took the meeting.

She went through all the usual business, telling us the result of our teas at Remenham Fayre.

Sadly, it had been a wet day, so we did not do as well as other years but were able to give a contribution to the general fund. The atmosphere was very happy and not dampened by the rain.

Our speaker was Stewart Linford, a furniture maker, from High Wycombe.

He started with a small company making Windsor chairs in a converted pigsty. He had a very successful career, winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise and being made a Freeman of the City of London.

The chair dates from about 1600 and became known as the Windsor as the chairs were taken to London by barge from the direction of Windsor.

The chairs are made of elm and beech. The elm seats are made specifically to fit the buyer’s shape by a “bottomer”, while the legs, stretchers and backs are carved from beech.

Stewart had brought some beautiful examples, including the Queen’s chair and the millennium chair.

The Churchill chair had a secret drawer with a humidifier for his cigars and was very comfortable and exquisitely carved. Stewart put on a bowler hat and held a cigar to give us a rendition of Churchill’s famous “their finest hour” speech.

This was a fascinating afternoon and Stewart was warmly thanked by Judy Palmer.

We ended the afternoon with a sumptuous tea provided by Eirene Parker and Jean Shelton. Joy O’Brien treated us to a glass of delicious New Zealand wine to celebrate her 90th birthday.


IN August, we didn’t have a formal meeting, just a get-together with social time where we devoured all the lovely scones and biscuits that had been made by members — well done to all who baked. Our September meeting (soon be Christmas!) took place on a pleasant autumn afternoon.

President Margaret Pyle welcomed all members and visitors present and thanked Judith Sharp for the flowers.

She said that a copy of the record of the August meeting was available for all to see.

Secretary Mary Robinson told us that the Berkshire Federation would be celebrating its centenary in 2019 and plans were in hand to organise anniversary events.

She also said that photographs would be needed for the 2019 calendar and that pictures (of places in Berkshire) should be submitted by January 31, 2018 for possible inclusion.

We were told that calendars for 2018 would be available from next month.

Margaret Seal gave out the birthday buttonholes, including one to Phyllis Clinton, who was celebrating her 90th birthday in month — well done, Phyllis.

A trip to the Houses of Parliament is being organised for Monday, December 4 with time for lunch and to visit other nearby attractions, including Westminster Abbey, St Margaret’s Church etc. Coaches will leave Newbury at approximately 8.30am with pick-ups being arranged according to numbers. The cost is £22 — for more information, see BFWI News.

There are several other days out and craft days, including “Nepal — a constant backdrop of mountains”, “Cyber security”, “paper craft taster day” and “Autumn art day”. Details of these can also be found in BFWI News.

An appeal has been received from the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading for more twiddle muffs, so get those knitting needles moving.

The Scrabble club met twice in September, the lunch group met at Café Rouge in the Oracle and the book club was to meet on October 2.

The cinema club hoped to go and see Victoria and Abdul. Margaret then introduced our speaker for the afternoon, Richard Anderson, with his antiques quiz “What is it?”

First, Richard first told us about his life. He had been in the army and was a member of Pangbourne Rotary Club and spent time in India working on a programme to eradicate polio.

He went on to show us various items for us to identify. He would tell us what each item was made of and its approximate age and value but we were not allowed to touch it.

The various items included butter pats, a cylinder record, a tool for ear-piercing, a coachman’s hot water bottle, a tool for castrating bulls, a manilla (this being the currency for buying and selling slaves).

This was a very entertaining talk — thanks to Richard for visiting us.

After the talk we had the usual cup of tea and biscuits before the drawing of the raffle.

We meet in St Barnabas’ Church hall in Emmer Green on the first Wednesday of the month at 2pm.


PRESIDENT Joan Jolley opened the meeting with her usual warm welcome, although she did wonder where the summer had gone!

During what summer we did have, the July summer party and the 90th birthday party river cruise in August were really successful and immensely enjoyed.

The sunny afternoon on the river was enhanced by a scrumptious tea laid on by the Time for Tea ladies. Lovely.

Outings secretary Sue Lines gave an update on forthcoming events and told members that the trip to Ellie Dickins Shoes in Hungerford had been a great day out.

Most of us indulged ourselves, buying a pair of very nice shoes, but one or two members indulged themselves even more and bought three pairs!

Janet Matthews, our public affairs secretary, gave us details of what had happened to this year’s annual resolutions so far. More details can be found in News & Views.

She also reminded us that Monday, November 13, is World Kindness Day, which aims to celebrate and promote acts of kindness, however small.

Our speaker this month was Analiza Jones, who told us about the making of handwoven baskets and bags in her native Philippines.

She was a terrific speaker and obviously very proud of the work that ordinary people did to make these beautiful bags, baskets and mats.

Everything is individually handwoven from the stalks and leaves of plants such as abacá (a species of banana) and buntal, a fibre from the corypha (palm tree).

Analiza had a fascinating set of slides showing the processes used to make the bags and said that although it was very hard, and sometimes hazardous, the work was economically very important to each family and the village as a whole.

Her selection of bags, which we were able to buy, was stunning.

A lovely tea was served by hostesses Lynn Boros and Chris Bickerton.

The flower of the month competition was won by Pamela Ferris with a lovely pink begonia.

The joint winners of the competition for “An interesting pen” were Mavis Saward and Susan Partridge.

Our meetings are held in Shiplake Memorial Hall every third Wednesday of the month (except August) at 2.30pm. New members and visitors are always welcome. For more information, call the secretary on (01491) 410256.


PRESIDENT Jenny Ward welcomed everyone back after the summer break and said it was lovely to see a “full house” and some new faces.

There were 36 members and nine visitors. Quite a few of our members had sent apologies due to having late holidays. The welfare report included the sad news that we had lost our member Linda Webb with her untimely death in August.

Linda had been very active in our craft group from the start and had produced some lovely knitted blankets which have been forwarded to the Home of Hope, an orphanage in Malawi.

Linda was so enthusiastic and supported our WI, Macmillan and the village in many ways.

Messages of “Get well soon” had been sent to two of our members who had taken nasty falls during the summer.

Jenny Ward reported that Sonning Common WI had held a cake sale at an event held at the Abbey Rugby Club in aid of Bishopswood School.

This was very successful and we were able to donate our proceeds to the event, which was raising funds for the purchase of sensory materials.

Margaret Pyle gave a very interesting report on the Oxfordshire Federation visit to Romsey and Houghton Lodge.

She was joined on the trip by Jenny Ward and Carole Williams and they travelled down on the coach from Nettlebed.

They spent time in the delightful market town of Romsey, visiting Romsey Abbey, a magnificent 12th century abbey church. After lunch they went on to Houghton Lodge and gardens, near Stockbridge.

After an interesting tour of the house, it started to rain and access to the grounds and riverside walk were curtailed.

Pauline Whitehead reported on our summer outing to the Thames Valley Police Museum at the Police Training Centre in Sulhamstead.

The museum is situated in the original Sulhamstead House, which was rebuilt in 1800, the original having been constructed in 1744 by a David May.

A major point of interest in the museum was a display featuring the farmhouse where the Great Train Robbers hid.

Pc Boyes, who was our host for the tour, explained in detail how the robbery was carried out and its aftermath, which covered many years with one robber still at large to this day.

He also told the gruesome story of Amelia Dyer, the Ogress of Reading.

During the 1800s, she lived in Caversham and took in illegitimate babies for money on the pretext of caring for them. However, she kept the money, neglected the babies and then killed them and threw their bodies into the Thames.

She was eventually caught, tried and hanged at Newgate Prison in 1896. There are some articles of evidence still held at this museum.

Some of our ladies had fun trying on some of the old-fashioned uniforms from the past.

We were all intrigued to learn about our local crime history.

We went on to have lunch at the nearby Fox and Hounds Pub in Theale.

After lunch some members went to Englefield House, near Pangbourne, to walk around the gardens, which have existed for more than 400 years as part of the Englefield Estate.

We visited the small church on the estate where Pippa Middleton was married earlier this year.

Pauline thanked the organiser Alison Bishop for all her hard work in arranging our summer outing and organising the transport. Sue Hedges and eight other members of our craft group entered an exhibit in the Capel Young Challenge at the Henley Show to depict a nursery rhyme.

The entry was “Mary Mary Quite Contrary”, which had a lovely floral background with silver bells, cockle shells and pretty maids with lovely bunting and floral displays.

A huge amount of work went into the piece, which earned them second prize.

All the contributors of the various crafts had enjoyed putting the entry together and they had set up a copy of their entry at the meeting for all to view their creative and excellent craft skills.

Carol Townhill announced the arrangements for our Christmas lunch and further details will be given out next month.

Sue Hedges told us that there were still some places available at our October workshops. These were t’ai chi for beginners, sugar icing and fabric flowers. The Chinese painting session was now full.

Sue highlighted the Christmas fabric wreaths made by Marion Bayliss, who will be giving a lesson on how to make these beautiful fabric wreaths at our next craft session.

Jenny Ward asked if any members would let her know if they would like to join our team for entry into the quiz being held by the Friends of Sonning Common library.

Jenny congratulated Sue Frayling-Cork on her appointment to the Oxfordshire Federation’s public affairs committee.

Sue will be particularly involved with campaign follow-ups, especially care, not custody. At county level, she will be able to use her expertise effectively and she was wished every success.

Jenny was very pleased to welcome Sue Hedges, our secretary, who gave an instructive and entertaining flower-arranging demonstration. She used flowers from her garden to make an autumnal arrangement using rudbeckias, apples and autumn leaves, a table centre using flowers and mixed herbs and a more contemporary arrangement using dahlias.

The final arrangement was more traditional using artificial magnolia and roses.

All Sue’s fabulous arrangements were given to the evening’s raffle as prizes and the lucky winners each went home with a gorgeous arrangement.

Marian Turner gave the vote of thanks and said how much we had all enjoyed watching and learning from Sue and that the arrangements she had produced were beautiful.

Sue received a warm round of applause from an appreciative audience.

The raffle was drawn and refreshments served.

The competition was a floral arrangement in a tea cup and there were six entries. The winner was Ann Holt. The flower of the month competition was also won by Ann.

Jenny thanked everyone for coming, wished them a safe journey home and said she looked forward to seeing everyone at our October evening meeting.


OUR September meeting had a twist.

Unfortunately, our president Jeanette had resigned so it was necessary to hold an election for a new president for the second half of this year.

Nominations from the rest of the committee were voted on and resulted in our current vice-president Sandra Farmer taking over as president with help from two other committee members taking turns to run the meetings until March when there will be the normal annual elections.

The meeting then continued with notice of further opportunities to meet up, the success of the glam sale (a good profit will go towards new hall chairs) and two lunches for visitors (profits going towards our future meetings).

About 22 of us had very much enjoyed the summer fun day around Greys and this was reported back on for those who did not go.

A book club meeting, a games afternoon and a craft day were arranged and an evening walk and supper is planned for later in the month.

Our speaker had cancelled a few weeks ago and then the replacement speaker cancelled only that afternoon so it became a DIY socialising meeting.

Sandra gave us an easy quiz to chat over and we had an excellent supper.

The competition was for an autumnal floral table arrangement and we saw some very pretty and imaginative entries.

We drew the raffle and our visitor from Tackley, Pat Eades, from Harpsden WI, judged the stem of the month competition.

Some outings were signed up for and we look forward to hearing from one of our own members next month on her work as a forensic toxicologist. At least we know she will appear and we will enjoy her talk!


SEPTEMBER’S meeting was a social evening, so Rosemary Lewis and Linda Francis provided a brain-teasing quiz. It was a good workout of our knowledge and memories!

Rosemary and Linda also provided the tasty cheeses and wine to enhance the evening. A big thank-you to both.

Five intrepid walkers managed to trek along the Ridgeway to Lewknor and raised £145 for the Denman College appeal.

The weather and company was good and Dawn was knowledgeable on the flora and fauna. A well-deserved lunch was had by all at the Leathern Bottle!

The next meeting will be on October 11 with a talk by John Sennett on “Life after the BBC”.

On November 8 Jane Pawlyn will be giving a demonstration on “Here’s one I made earlier” and December will be our Christmas party.

We meet in Watlington town hall at 7.30pm and would love to meet you, so please come and see just what we are about. For more information, please call Kath Gomm on (01491) 612939.


TWENTY-THREE members and two visitors were welcomed by president Frances to our September meeting.

Birthday greetings and flowers were given to four members. Our business meeting covered the usual range of financial matters,

A proposal to appoint our new honorary treasurer to take over before the end of our current financial year was approved unanimously.

Correspondence included advance notice of next year’s National Federation annual meeting in Cardiff on June 6.

Plans for future local social events include a visit to Greys Court followed by lunch in November and a demonstration of how to make your own Christmas decorations, holly and ivy etc for your table and fireplace and in early December. Our speaker was Gemma Wise, senior community fund-raiser at the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed.

She told us about the origins and history of the hospice and the range of services it now offers.

The hospice is open 24/7 and can provide accommodation for short stay or respite care, in-patient and day care, bereavement support and complementary therapies such as massage, reflexology and reiki.

It has community services to enable people to remain in their own homes with the help of specialist community nurses. Social workers can give emotional, practical and religious support.

The hospice costs about £3.1million a year to run, most of which is raised through voluntary donations.

The competition for craft items was won by Sheila Morland and the flower of the month competition by Sue Matthews.

Our next business meeting with a speaker will be on Tuesday, October 17 when Jeff Rozelaar will be talking about “Bagels and bacon”.

We have business meetings with a speaker on the third Tuesday of most months. These take place at Goring Heath parish hall, opposite St John’s Church, on the B471, starting at 10,15am.

We also plan a social or craft morning, or possibly a walk and pub lunch, usually on the first Tuesday of the month.

Visitors are always welcome. For more information, please call 0118 984 1696.


OUR September meeting was hilarious, thanks to our speaker Kevin Little, who recounted “fishy” tales from his life as a fishmonger — red herrings, holy mackerel, dolphins and a brush with the law involving two pike.

He threw in a few historical facts. Did you know that “Smelly Alley” in Reading was not named due to his fish shop but originated in the 1500s?

The competition for a fish recipe was won by Kathy Brewer and the bloom of the month by Carol Shelley-Allen.

Our diary for the next few months is slowly filling up. There will be a lunch at the Shillingford Bridge Hotel on October 25, a coffee morning at Woodcote community centre on October 28, the Christmas lunch at Route One on November 22, a visit to Birmingham Christmas market on November 28 and a theatre trip to Oxford to see Fiddler on the Roof on January 18.

The October meeting will take the form of a harvest lunch when members bring along a plate of food to share. Lots of eating, drinking and chat will be the order of the day. Whoever said the WI is boring?

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