Friday, 17 August 2018

Women's Institute Round-up

Women's Institute Round-up

BENSON

AT our meeting on January 17 members were welcomed to the cosy Benson parish hall lounge.

Jerusalem was sung to open the meeting and membership renewals were received.

Our president wished everybody a “Happy New Year” and brought us up to date with forthcoming events and matters as outlined in News & Views magazine.

These included the “Loneliness summit” at Cumnor on February 14, the campaign resolutions and the resolutions meetings in April and the speakers selection day at Cassington.

Members were advised that if they wished to select any of the campaign resolutions, their choices must be returned to the committee as soon as possible.

The next Oxfordshire Federation event to be held in Benson will be the Art tasters day in April.

Our president advised that there was to be a memorial service for past member Eve Barrett and a number of those present agreed to attend.

A report was given on a recent quilting workshop hosted by one of our members. Samples of the work produced were shown and those who attended thanked the organiser for an excellent session. Another session is planned for February 12.

Eight members attended and enjoyed the Russian Ballet in Oxford. A vote of thanks was expressed to our local outings organiser.

Members were thanked for their donations to our bring and share supper prior to Christmas which turned out to be very successful with an excellent speaker.

Following the business, Brenda Hallett (talks organiser) introduced John Warburton to speak about the Wallingford Corn Exchange.

He started with the history of the building from 1670 when Moses Winter bought the building for £410. The receipt can be seen today in Wallingford Museum.

John went on to talk about the formation of the Sinodun Players and their eventual purchase of the building for £19,000.

With the inside being designed by Denis Wood, it underwent refurbishment until its opening by Sir Peter Hall in December 1978.

John talked about its productions, its 16-year association with Bentley Productions for Midsomer Murders and its future with the ongoing upgrade work.

The next meeting will be at Benson parish hall on Wednesday, February 21 at 7.30pm when the speaker will be Bert Pridgeon talking abut “Local place names”.

In March, it will be our annual meeting when Benson WI will enter into its 92nd year.

Visitors are always welcome. For details of our programme, call Brenda Hallett on (01491) 838584.

CAVERSHAM

WE met at Church House in Caversham on Thursday, January 18.

This was the members’ meeting where the floor is open to any member to speak on their chosen subject.

We are fortunate to have two former mayors of Reading as members.

They each told us of their various experiences and events during the year of office. They had each travelled worldwide to represent Reading and experienced living in our twinned towns abroad.

They both worked to raise money for a variety of different charities connected to Reading.

As they both had young families at the time they were mayor, they must have led very busy lives.

Later in the evening, each member had the opportunity to vote from a shortlist of resolutions that the National Federation will be following for the rest of the year.

Arrangements were made and certain dates announced for activities during the year.

Ladies are very welcome to visit our friendly group. We meet on the third Thursday of the month at 7.30pm, which helps to avoid childcare issues.

There is usually easy parking and a lift to the first floor meeting room at Church House in Church Street, aversham. For more information, call our secretary on 0118 947 5176.

CHAZEY

OUR vice-president welcomed everyone, including our guest speaker Alan Copeland, to the January meeting.

Alan gave an interesting talk on “Curiosities in the Chilterns”.

Using a screen and sound effects, he was both interesting and very entertaining.

A vote of thanks was given before refreshments were taken.

Members were told that our president had been in hospital over Christmas and the New Year and was quite poorly. We wish her well.

Five committee members gave a brief outline on this year’s resolutions. A vote was taken and the meeting voted for the resolution “Mental health matters”.

This year’s subscriptions were collected and members’ booklets were given out. Permission had been given by the Berkshire Federation to change the day and time of the annual meeting.

Social events dates were given to the members.

The competition was won by Julie Bradshaw with a very good sketch of the Caversham sign in the shopping precinct.

We welcome any ladies thinking of joining us. We meet on the first Tuesday of the month at 7.30pm at the Caversham Methodist Church hall on the corner of Highmoor Road and Woodcote Road.

For more information, email chazeywi@gmail.com

COCKPOLE GREEN

ON Wednesday, January 17 president Adrienne Rance opened our first meeting of the new year by welcoming members and our speaker Graham Foster, whose talk was to be about the work of the Thames Valley Air Ambulance.

Graham was involved with health and safety many years ago, including manning ambulances in attendance at sports events.

Eventually, a couple of these ambulances were recycled to Tanzania, keeping up their good work.

Graham joined the Thames Valley Air Ambulance service as a volunteer in 2000.

He told us how in 1916 a DeHavilland bomber was used for the first time to transport an injured airman from Turkey back to the UK, which proved invaluable.

However, it was not until 1987 that the first air ambulance charitable trust was set up in Cornwall.

One of the main sponsors then was the AA (Automobile Association).

The service started operating just two days a week whereas now there are 18 independent air ambulance charities accross the UK running 32 helicopters.

The Thames Valley helicopter was launched in June 1999 and now serves the three counties of Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

Massive progress has been made as the service now operates seven days a week, including night-flying, so the ambulance is on call from 7am to 2am.

Formerly based at White Waltham airfield, the service moved to RAF Benson at the end of January 2007.

The three main advantages over a road ambulances are:

1 Speed — the helicopter travels at about 150mph.

2 Access.

3 Immediate accident and emergency treatment from the paramedics on board.

Thanks to public support, the helicopter can now carry two patients, two paramedics, one volunteer doctor and a wealth of medical and life support equipment.

All this means that the doctors waiting at the hospital are fully prepared to care for the patient straightaway as most of the prep work has already been carried out in flight.

The air ambulance leases the helicopter and pilot and the NHS supplies the paramedics and all the drugs.

The main sources of income are the Whirlybird Lottery, which raises approximately 60 per cent of the £2.5 million needed every year, open gardens events (£75,000) and gift aid (£74,000). Each mission consumes £2,500.

There is also a fully equipped land car working alongside the helicopter in case of bad flying conditions or a lack of a landing site at the incident.

In Wokingham, the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service has been set up.

Desks there are manned by a trained paramedic, who listens in on emergency 999 calls. He will check and intervene if a helicopter is necessary.

Graham was thanked for his informative talk before settling down to share and enjoy a WI tea prepared by Di Bush and Maureen Rothery.

The next meeting will take place at Crazies Hill village hall on Wednesday, February 21 at 2.30pm, when Stefan White will talk about “Skulduggery in the shrubbery!”

Please bring something for the bring and buy table.

GREYS

AT our January meeting Val, our president, wished everyone a happy new year and happy birthday to Janet, Jo and Gladys.

It was with sadness we heard Ida Tilbury had died. Condolences had been sent to her husband.

Thanks to Merryl’s regular newsletters, members had details of the Berkshire Women’s Aid requirements and were invited to add donations to the box at each meeting.

We were reminded that subscriptions should be passed to our treasurer, Doreen, and asked to contribute prizes for our regular raffle.

Suzanne requested members to volunteer their assistance when our small committee undertakes to provide teas.

She apologised for increasing the cost of her very special marmalade due to the rising cost of the ingredients.

Merryl tabled the public affairs report for WIs for January and made sure everyone had a voting paper for the resolutions which our secretary, Janet, needed to finalise and send to the Oxfordshire Federation.

It was then time to introduce our speaker, Simon Jones of Jones & Jacob, fine art auctioneers and valuers.

He runs the Watlington sales room and looks forward to welcoming any of us to sales days. which are held every second Wednesday in the month when artefacts are sold throughout the world.

Members had furnished him with a wealth of treasures. First, he held up a large decorative trinket box which he suggested was, from the design, Japanese rather than Chinese as its owner thought.

The Turkish hubble-bubble had been upcycled into a table lamp by drilling a hole in the base.

This was not good news as it detracted from its value. Had the electric fitting been placed in the neck of the vessel it would be worth more.

The German doll’s china head was in sync with its body length, which was good news!

The Bishop & Stonier hot water jug dug up at Battle Hospital in Reading had an interesting story.

Simon pointed out that an object’s story sold as much as the worth these days and urged us to keep the history with the treasure lest it be consigned to the tip by our families.

I think the best story of the afternoon was about the silver fob, which had been thrown by an American serviceman as his convoy trundled through Greys and caught by a young girl who later become a member of our WI.

Arthur Negus would have enjoyed the 1870s calamander tea caddy, made by a member’s relative.

Simon demonstrated how Arthur would let the internal boxes slide back into place with a whisper.

The caddy contained no tea so we were unable to fill the ingenious Victorian self-pouring teapot. Its owner challenged her visitors to discover how it worked.

Simon’s favourite item was a fine French porcelain panel from around the 1820s depicting a very good-looking Napoleon.

These have a strong following, predictably more in France than the UK.

Its owner had bought it as a 12-year-old with just a few pence of pocket money. Now it was worth £150 to £200.

It was interesting to learn that, whereas two small hand-painted watercolours were of little value, they belonged to a time when furnishers supplied complete households with furnishings, including pictures.

A pretty art deco beaded evening purse evoked thoughts of the Twenties, as did the silver cigarette box from Thailand.

The beautiful Thirties rolled gold necklace and earrings decorated with blue butterfly wings were much admired.

Then there was the dainty silver powder box which could have belonged to a chatelaine.

The decorative rolling pin, which could be filled with cold water, would roll a pattern into your pastry and was worth £70 to £80.

A Georgian spoon of Irish silver had been enhanced and was more valuable than had it been English silver.

By contrast, a tin advertising baby rusks made claims which would have landed the makers in the dock today but had us all laughing.

We learnt the difference in value between single malt and blended Scotch whisky, that there was no definition of antique and that the auction price was the wholesale price whereas the shop price referred to the retail price of an artefact.

Also, there is little interest in books despite their adding to our social history.

Some members discovered their treasures were plate not silver, or spelter not bronze, or that cameos of females sold for more than those of men.

None of this detracted from the personal value and stories associated with such treasures.

Simon’s first love is furniture so he was pleased to show off the burr walnut table with its finely carved claw feet made in about 1810. With restoration, this could sell at some £1,500.

Of the oak-framed armchair, he said: “…doesn’t get much better; the most comfortable chair in the hall.”

We were all resigned to our plastic stacking chairs but we knew what he meant.

What an afternoon — so much information squeezed into less than an hour.

Suzanne said she thought it had been one of our best meetings.

Next month, personal trainer Chris Dyer will show us how to avoid injury by getting fit, feisty and free from falls — use it by doing a few simple exercises or lose it.

Join us at at Greys village hall on Wednesday, February 21 at 2.30pm.

Our lunch club will meet at the Crown in Playhatch, on February 27 at 12.20pm for 1pm and the next knit and natter meeting will be at Val’s home on March 8 from 10.30am to noon.

HAMBLEDEN

OUR January meeting was held, as usual, in Hambleden village hall and was attended by 31 members and three guests.

At the National Federation’s forthcoming annual meeting, delegates will be discussing resolutions from the membership for our national campaign and educational activity.

Our branch was asked to vote for one of five campaign suggestions, which are:

1 Positive body image in a digital age.

2 Stop female genital mutilation.

3 Raising awareness of modern slavery in the UK.

4 Mental health matters.

5 Healthier mouth, healthier body.

The majority voted for a campaign for parity between mental and physical health, to take action to make it as acceptable to talk about mental health issues and to lobby government for better support for mental illness.

Our guest speaker was Dinah Latham, who came to the meeting with her sheepdog, Harriet.

Dinah told us interesting tales of her life as a community nurse in Soho, Covent Garden, Lewes and Amersham.

She began by describing her nursing career, which started in the Sixties, when she travelled about on a bike with all her equipment in a basket.

Her more recent colleagues were astounded that no mobile phones were available then.

Dinah decided to write her book, Walking Forward, Looking Back, once she had retired and become the proud owner of a puppy.

The book describes their walks and relates stories of her working life which came to mind during these rambles.

The vote of thanks was given by Lois Howden.

An excellent tea was provided by Sally-Ann Roberts, Ruth Kitchen and Shelagh Green. At the meeting on February 8 our speaker will be Kerry McNamara talking about “Life in the Household Cavalry”.

On February 20, we will have a poetry reading afternoon led by our committee member Louise Andrews. This will be held in the library at St Katherine’s, Parmoor, from 2.15pm to 4.30pm and we are looking forward to it.

We meet in Hambleden village hall on the second Thursday of the month, starting at 7.30pm, and we welcome new members.

For more information about our branch and to see our programme for this year, please visit our website, www.hambleden-wi.org

HARPSDEN

AT the beginning of the January meeting little did the 35 members know what a treat lay in store for them later in the afternoon when the speaker would take the floor.

But first, Pat Eades dealt with the business, reminding members that subscriptions of £41 were due.

She also reported that several members had that day attended the funeral of Doreen Cave, a past president and staunch member of Harpsden WI for many, many years. Condolences had been sent to Doreen’s husband, John.

Shirley Weyman will be the delegate at the Oxfordshire Federation’s annual meeting on March 28 at the new venue of the Newman Room, St Aldates, Oxford.

The speakers are Paul Simons, a weather specialist and columnist in The Times, and Simon King, naturalist and broadcaster with BBC’s Springwatch. Observers are welcome at a cost of £12.

The Denman Appeal ends on March 31 and Harpsden WI will hold a coffee morning on March 8 as a final flourish.

On May 14 an outing is being organised by the Oxfordshire Federation to Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire at a cost of £23. National Trust members will get in free but others will have to pay an extra £15.30.

A new venture by the federation is for an art taster morning in Benson on April 12. The cost is £9 and members were invited to sign up.

There are still spaces available for “My travels as a midwife” and “Romania revisited” in Cholsey on February 26 from 10.30am to 3pm. The cost is £18.

The next meeting of the Beechwood Group will be in Stoke Row on April 12 at 7.30pm.

Everyone was then ready for the treat of the afternoon when Gill Davies took members on her “Quilter’s journey”. She used to be a history teacher who taught at The Henley College from 1976 but with two young children had no time for her hobbies of painting and dressmaking.

However, she went to a workshop on “sheer fabrics” and found this so mesmerising that she then began making “pictures” using these fabrics.

She showed us one depicting Monet’s waterlilies and another of a woodland scene.

Gill began making pictorial quilts and our breath was taken away when she showed us such beautiful exmples.

She bought many of her materials at Lady Sew and Sew in Henley and was asked to take workshops there, so her second career took off and blossomed — quite a change from being a history teacher.

Gill was thanked for her entertaining talk and “journey” by Pam Hails.

The competition for a sample of handicraft was won by Joan Hoyle with her dainty miniature flower painting. Pam Hails was second and six members tied for third place.

The next meeting will be at Harpsden village hall on February 14, commencing at 2.30pm.

The speaker will be Elizabeth Hazeldine and it is hoped that she will not frighten members too much with her talk, called “The darker side of Henley”.

The competition will be for a “Memory of Henley”.

Do come and listen to this excellent speaker.

HOT (HENLEY-ON-THAMES)

OUR January meeting was in new venue with new members so was a great start to the new year.

Katie, our president, gave a welcome talk and then handed over to our speaker Claire Worsfold, an ambassador for Tropic Skincare.

The company produces natural (chemical and cruelty free) products for face and body, suncare and make-up, beauty treatments and men’s products.

After the owner Susie Ma appeared on The Apprentice (she didn’t win) Lord Sugar was so impressed that he invested in the company to become a 50/50 partner.

Claire has worked full time for Tropic for about 18 months and is passionate about all its products and what they can do.

She had brought along several samples which were passed around for us all to try. They felt and smelled wonderful and were very reasonably priced.

After the talk we all gathered round to buy a few goodies and book Claire for her at-home parties.

We had some further business regarding the resolutions for this year and Katie asked our WI advisor Pat Eades to tell us about them and take the votes.

Then everyone had a chance to catch up over a glass of wine and some cake made by Chris Agar.

Our next meeting will be at Sacred Heart Church hall, Vicarage Road, Henley, on Friday, February 16 at 7.30pm.

We will be having a talk on votes for women as it is the centenary this year.

Please come along. For more information, email hotwi2017@hotmail.com or find us on Facebook under Henley-on-Thames WI.

MILL GREEN, WARGRAVE

ON Wednesday, January 3 there was a warm welcome to the first meeting of the year from our president Frankie Macmillan.

The committee provided wine and nibbles for a convivial beginning to the new year.

After the usual business and a brief discussion on the forthcoming resolutions proposals, our treasurer Wendy Porter kept members greatly amused with a selection of humorous odes.

There followed a lively games evening with prizes for the winners.

The programme for the forthcoming year, compiled by programme secretary Carol Evans, is as follows:

February — Annual meeting; Linda Fawke on “Becoming a writer”.

March — Jonathan Fryer on “The humorous side of being an actor”.

April — Sue Milton on “The five-day swan upping census”.

May — Samantha Philo-Gill on “The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in France 1917-1921”.

June — Outing to Mottisfont Abbey (National Trust house and garden).

July — Tracy Blaney on “Age-old craft of millinery”.

August — Garden party.

September — Nicholas Henderson on “Fortitude and fancy, Catherine of Aragon”.

October — Jennipher Marshall Jenkinson on “The magic of microwave cookery”.

November — Graham Horn on “Climbing Kilimanjaro to the roof of Africa”.

December — Christmas dinner, Sansom Room.

Meetings are held in the Hannen Room on the first Wednesday of each month at 7.30pm unless otherwise stated.

PEPPARD

JULIA MILES gave a very interesting and entertaining talk at our January meeting about the countries that she and her husband had lived in.

We enjoyed tea provided by Anita Cricker and Pauline Lester.

Spring flowers brought by Jackie Anderson reminded us all that hopefully spring is not too far away.

Our next meeting will be at Peppard war memorial hall on February 14 at 2pm when Gillian Lane will talk to us on “The miracle of Bletchley Park”. Visitors are most welcome.

REMENHAM

WE met on January 8 and Daphne Austen, our president, wished all 16 members present a very happy new year.

The most exciting news is that we have a new microphone, so that all those that are hard of hearing are now in the loop.

Our treasurer Anne Francis told us about our accounts and a successful bridge afternoon, when the bulk of the profits went to Camp Mohawk.

The Christmas market and the Christmas lunch both made money for our funds, which mostly goes towards speakers for our meetings.

We were told about the spring council meeting to be held in the Palmer building at the University of Reading on April 9.

There will be a Remenham ladies’ lunch at the Little Angel on January 17 to which all members are welcome. For two courses the charge is £22.

Our next gathering will be the annual meeting and all are invited for lunch beforehand.

After the business, the five resolutions were gone through.

1 Positive body image in a digital age. It is felt that so much pressure is put on people to have the perfect size, weight, looks etc. which can lead to anorexia.

2 Stop female genital mutilation. So much has been in the press about this and the WI passed a resolution two years ago but nothing came of it. More than 200 million girls are affected by this ghastly, cruel mutilation.

3. Raising awareness of modern slavery in the UK. Again, so much of this has been covered by the press but if the WI was to emphasise the disgrace that this still happens hopefully it can be prevented.

4. Mental health matters. One or two of our members have personal experience of this in their families. It seems that talking and listening, preferably in small groups with their peers, does bring help to those who are suffering.

5 Healthier mouth, healthier body. This is maybe something we would never feel is connected with gum disease but it is proven that this can be the cause of a stroke/heart attack and even diabetes. So dental care is of vital importance.

We went through all these and members were asked to vote for only one of the five.

The votes will be passed to the Berkshire Federation and will go forward, with the results of all the other WIs in the county, to the National Federation to be voted on at the annual meeting in June.

Our speaker, Elizabeth Hazeldine, was then introduced with her talk, “Murders in Henley”.

Elizabeth was born and brought up in Henley and has always been fascinated by the history of the town, so she started the Henley Heritage Walks.

She began with the story of Mary Blandy who was hanged for murdering her father with white arsenic. She is reputed to haunt the Kenton Theatre and Blandy House, and is buried somewhere under St Mary’s Church.

Elizabeth told us many more stories of crime, which was rife in Henley in the 18th century, as well as the histories of many local houses and areas. For example, Thamesfield was built on Remenham’s common land and Mr Moss’s glasshouses were where Cook’s Nurseries used to be.

Elizabeth is a mine of information and we all wanted her to go on and on but, sadly, time ran out.

Caroline Leeming gave her a very appreciative vote of thanks on our behalf and we all hope she will come again and tell us more.

Then members enjoyed a super tea given by June Shelton and Pat Sly.

ROSEHILL

HAPPY New Year. Well, here we are into 2018, so let’s hope that it will be a good year for everybody. Arlene Riley, our vice-president, welcomed everyone present on a rather windy Wednesday afternoon. She also reminded us that subscriptions for 2018 were now due and should be given to Judith Sharp (treasurer).

Next the birthday buttonholes were given out by Margaret Seal.

We were then told of the various meeting dates for the book club and the Scrabble club.

Barbara Wood is hoping to find a suitable film for the cinema club to see.

A programme planning meeting for 2018/2019 is being organised and anyone who has any suggestions for a speaker should let the committee know.

The meeting continued with various items being brought to our attention that are featured in the January issue of Berkshire WI News, namely the spring annual council meeting on Monday, April 9 from 10.30am to 1pm at the Palmer building on the Whiteknights campus of the University of Reading.

The speaker will be Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger DBE. Tickets cost £11 each and must be purchased in advance.

In February, Lorraine McClellan will be holding a series of workshops at WI House in Mortimer.

They will all be at a basic level and include An introduction to social media, Being creative using social media, Using email and Maintaining your computer. These courses are for WI members only.

Other workshops/talks include a photographic workshop and a discussion about glaucoma.

More information can be found in Berkshire WI News.

Arlene then introduced our speaker, Jayne Windmill, who gave a very interesting and often amusing account of her walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats with her husband.

This remarkable feat took about three months and was done mainly on footpaths.

During the talk we were shown photographs of some of the places the couple had visited.

We then had the usual cup of tea and biscuit before the raffle was drawn.

The bring and buy stall had a successful afternoon.

At our previous meeting on December 6 we were unable to get into our normal venue (the lock was faulty) but the vicar kindly gave his permission for us to use the new church hall.

During the meeting we were shown how to decorate a Christmas wreath by Kathleen Morgan.

Bob Whelpton was there selling his lovely continental chocolates, so quite a lot of Christmas shopping took place. This was followed by the usual cup of tea and mince pie and a good afternoon was had by all.

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

SHIPLAKE

WE met on Wednesday, January 17 for the first time this year.

President Joan Jolley gave members a special warm welcome.

She then asked Hannelore Donohue to tell everyone about her wonderful course at Denman College.

Shiplake WI had won a bursary at last year’s National Federation annual meeting and Hannelore had been the lucky lady to go.

The course was on pasta and sauces and she told us how much fun she had and how much she and her husband had enjoyed the whole experience.

Sue Lines gave details about visits to see Cinderella, 42nd Street and The King and I.

Members were asked to complete the forms to decide which resolution we would be discussing at our May meeting.

Members were also reminded that the competition for the Grace Philips Memorial Salver was for a poem or piece of prose on the subject of “anniversary”.

The speaker was Bruce Duncan with a fascinating talk called “The loan soldier”.

He explained that the name came from the groups of soldiers who were loaned to other countries’ armies and navies.

Sometimes they wore a British forces uniform and sometimes the uniform of the local army.

They were all volunteers and paid by the Government and taxed as normal — they were not mercenaries!

Bruce went on to tell us about his six tours of duty as a loan soldier in Brunei, Sudan, Nigeria, Oman, Kuwait and Jordan.

On each of these tours he was allowed to take his wife and four children with him.

He regaled us with tales of the interesting housing arrangements and the problems of having to take everything with them for a two-year tour.

He came back to the UK between each tour of duty and then was asked to go “on loan” again and volunteered each time.

He talked about his ceremonial duties in Brunei, the civil war in the Sudan and running the staff college in Nigeria.

Bruce enjoyed his time in Oman as the people were very pro-British and looked after his family well.

His time in Kuwait was not such a good posting — it was at the time that the southern marshes were drained and there was a lot of local hardship and then Iraq invaded.

He certainly had some tough stories to tell.

Jennifer Quinn and Sue Lines, assisted by a team of helpers, provided a wonderful tea.

The flower of the month competition was won by Margaret Bullock with a helebore and Viv Ellis with a daffodil.

The winner of the competition for an interesting medal was Sandy Porter with a North Atlantic long service medal from the First World War, which had been awarded to her father.

The speaker at the February meeting will be a volunteer service emergency rider talking about Blood Bikes. The competition will be for the best heart-shaped object.

For more information about Shiplake WI, visit the villages’ website. Visitors are always welcome at meetings.

SONNING COMMON

FIFTY members and five visitors attended our January meeting.

They were warmly welcomed by Jenny Ward, our president, who opened the meeting and wished everyone a “Happy New Year”.

The usual business matters ensued and were followed by the reading of various reports.

Jane Handley, our welfare officer, reminded members that they should contact her if they knew of any members who were unwell or just needed a friendly chat.

Jane sends one of her lovely handmade cards as appropriate.

Members who were unable to attend through illness were sent best wishes.

The treasurer’s report followed and showed we were in profit. A full financial report would be available at the annual meeting in March.

Gill Hayward gave a report on our fund-raising. She reminded members and visitors that the next coffee morning, which is open to all, would be in Sonning Common village hall on February 7 at 10.30am.

Donations from funds raised at our coffee mornings will be presented to local community projects selected by our members. Further details will be in the February report.

Gill told everyone that it would be a delightful occasion attended by representatives from each cause and anyone is welcome to join us.

Jenny Ward reminded members to vote for their chosen resolution. She explained how the resolution process worked to highlight important issues.

Campaigns follow adopted resolutions. Examples of recent causes to benefit were local women’s refuges. This followed the resolution “No more violence against women campaign”.

Two members, Jenny Hermon and Rosemary Greeley, sent beautifully decorated boxes of toiletries to the Royal Berkshire Hospital. These were added to many more collected by WIs throughout Oxfordshire.

Beverley Porteous reported on our Christmas lunch, which took place at Badgemore Golf Club on a very snowy day .

Jane Handley and Carol Townhill had organised this and were not sure until the last moment whether the event would be allowed due to the weather conditions, but we were very lucky that the snow stopped.

The Christmas meal was excellent and the dining room was beautifully decorated with a magical theme.

Everyone had an enjoyable time and after the meal and raffle, we stayed to enjoy each other’s company before venturing out into the wintry late afternoon for our journeys home.

There was a further evening dinner held at the Shoulder of Mutton in early January and this was also much enjoyed by those who attended.

This is arranged to enable those members who are unable to attend during the day to have the opportunity to attend a late WI Christmas meal in the evening. Jane and Carol were thanked for organising both events.

Sue Hedges reported on her recent weekend at Denman College. She enrolled on a course entitled “Fabulous flowers for Christmas” and made a corsage of orchids, a Christmas wreath and a table centre.

The tutor was David Martin who is a well-known florist, demonstrator and Chelsea Flower Show medal winner.

Sue had a fabulous weekend and made lots of new WI friends. She thoroughly recommended that our members should take advantage of the courses at Denman.

Food and toiletries were collected during the meeting to be forwarded to the Nomad food bank in Henley. More than 140 items were collected.

Our speaker Jeanette Hughes was then introduced by Jenny.

Jeanette is a tutor with the Keep Fit Association and has visited us many times. Her demonstrations are very much looked forward to by everyone and always remembered.

She brings advice and, most importantly of all, is passionate about passing on her knowledge and to show ways to strengthen and nourish your body in order to avoid or delay the many ailments and the fragility of ageing.

Her talks are full of her own unique humour and our laughter was a tonic to us all. We then arranged ourselves in rows and prepared ourselves for the seated exercise programme which had everyone moving parts of their bodies in time, or not, to the music.

This, surprisingly, took more effort than you would have thought and we all felt that we had had a good workout, even though we remained seated throughout.

It is always a pleasure to welcome Jeanette to our meetings and her advice is invaluable to us all.

Carole Williams gave the vote of thanks and the applause reflected our enjoyment of the evening.

Instead of a competition, members were asked to bring in evidence of any awards they had received. Well, what a talent we have among us.

Sue Hedges completed the Reading half marathon in 1985, Sue Frayling-Cork awarded a song book for singing at senior school and Carol Townhill was awarded an Imperial Service medal from yhe Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood on behalf of the Queen.

Ann Chivers had reached the heights of Salisbury Cathedral, Beverley Porteous won 34 swimming medals and represented London in the All England Championships.

Sue Green had a certificate of service to the community of Oxfordshire for teaching and Jane Handley had been a Kent Messenger Group of newspapers’ employee of the year finalist for customer service.

Pam Gross was chairwoman of the British Club in Düsseldorf and the first Grandma in the SAS boot camp and Angela Thorne was honouredfor 30 years of devotion to the Red Cross as a nursing officer.

Jenny Ward had won 1st prize for the Masters downhill ski run.

Fabulous! Whoever said WI members were old and boring?!

The flower of the month competition was won by Jenny Hermon with Jo Denslow second and Jenny Ward third.

Jenny closed the meeting and wished everyone a safe journey home.

STOKE ROW

GATHERING together again on a cold evening after Christmas, we were welcomed into the warmth of the hall by our temporary president Sandra.

Our speaker brightened up the evening with a stunning display of quilts, made by her team of expert quilters in the style of the American Civil War.

Subdued colours of cream, red and blue and some historic designs were all put together by this enthusiastic group.

Yvonne McAtemney owns Village Fabrics in Wallingford, where they meet for whole days of sewing, which she said was not only very sociable but quite a therapeutic change from their otherwise busy lives.

Quilts large and small were revealed as she spoke about the history behind the designs.

Just one of these can be seen in the photograph (above) being held aloft for us to better understand the reasons behind the shapes and colours.

Dates were then given out for the ongoing extra clubs. Swimming in particular was especially popular on a cold morning in January.

It was nice to be in a warm and welcoming atmosphere provided by one of our members.

Games afternoons continue with a regular group of players attending.

The book group is also thriving. It continues to grow in number with meetings held at the Cherry Tree pub in the village.

We have a snowdrop walk coming up, which will be followed by Tea at Three for anyone to join in, whether or not they have walked beforehand.

We have put together a table team of sleuths to go to a Murder Mystery evening in Goring, which should be fun.

Our next meeting will be to celebrate our 62nd birthday with food and good company.

We will be entertained by the popular and friendly group Pandemonium.

WATLINGTON

AT our January meeting, a very interesting talk was given by Ken and June Brazier about the Mercy Ships.

This hospital charity was set up by an American philanthropist in 1978 to bring medical facilities to the poorest African countries.

Having given their time to work on board a medical ship and seen the plight of people who live with no medical faculties, the couple decided to raise funds for the project by giving talks and explaining how the charity works. Our next meeting will be on February 14 when Caz will show us how to “Keep fit through yoga”.

Our annual meeting will be on March 14 and will be a semi-business evening.

We meet at Watligton town hall at 7.30pm and would be delighted to meet you.

For more information, call Kath Gomm on (01491) 612939.

WHITCHURCH HILL

MEMBERS welcomed in the new year with a social tea at Goring Heath Parish hall with the usual copious array of home-made cakes and sandwiches and tables adorned with spring flowers.

The conversations flowed — members tend to feel that there is insufficient time just to chat during our business meetings, so they made the most of the opportunity.

Later in the month we reverted to our usual business meeting, followed by speaker Clive Williams, who gave us an interesting insight into “The Nabobs of Berkshire”.

These were quite often younger sons in the family who travelled to India and other places to make their fortune.

Many took up positions with the East India Company, initially a trading company formed in the early 1600s but which eventually became hugely rich and powerful until eventually the Government of the time took over, when it also had its own army.

Survivors (India was not a healthy place for young men to live and many died there) came back to England with the fortunes they had made and many settled and built grand houses in Berkshire.

Looking ahead, our speaker at the meeting on February 20 will be Catherine Sampson talking about, by happy coincidence, “Royal weddings”.

We will be organising a coffee and cake morning for charity at the Whitchurch Art Café on Saturday, February 17.

Other local events include a visit to the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed in March.

This year’s National Federation meeting will be in Cardiff on June 6 and Whitchurch Hill members have voted on the resolutions they would like to see discussed at this important meeting.

There are no fewer than five possible choices and every WI member is able to place their vote for the one they would like to support.

One of our resolutions in 2017 was on the subject of “Alleviating loneliness”.

We have already had some discussion on the subject and are preparing to take this further with practical suggestions from members to be considered and put into action.

We have business meetings with a speaker on the third Tuesday of most months and we also plan a social or craft morning, or possibly a walk and pub lunch, usually on the first Tuesday of the month.

Our monthly meetings take place at Goring Heath parish hall, opposite St John’s Church on the B471, starting at 10.15am.

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

WOODCOTE

ANN LARDEN welcomed members, including our newest recruit Vanessa Pearce, on a sunny winter’s afternoon in January and wished everyone a happy new year.

Several members will be attending Fiddler on the Roof in Oxford.

The homes and gardens group will be playing skittles in Wallingford in March.

The ladies providing a delicious tea were Rose Metcalf, Patricia Solomons and Barbara George.

The Oxford Federation is organising a trip to Wimpole Hall and estate in May and an art taster day at Benson in April.

Its annual meeting will take place in Oxford in March and the speaker will be the naturalist and broadcaster Simon King.

Our speaker this month was Jane Stubbs, who told us about “Corsets, crinolines and mangles”.

Using a mannequin, she showed what the best- dressed woman was wearing in the 19th century.

We were also told the origins of what was meant by bodice-ripping!

The winner of the competition for the best mob cap was Betty Thomas.

The bloom of the month winner was Sally Lambert.

The lunch club was going to the Pack Saddle.

We meet in Woodcote village hall on the third Wednesday of the month at 2.30pm. Come and join us.

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