Thursday, 21 June 2018

Around the WI

Around the WI

BENSON

OUR president welcomed all but two members to our 91st annual meeting on March 21.

She also welcomed Oxfordshire Federation advisor Lyn Coleman who had come to oversee the business of our meeting.

Following our annual and financial reports, the committee was re-elected for the coming year and Brenda Hallett was elected as president.

A vote of thanks and a presentation was made to Sandra Winterbone for her term as president and her contribution to a successful and enjoyable 2017/18.

Our regular speaker slot was not filled on this occasion but there was plenty to chat about.

The benefits of belonging to the WI, the size of various WIs, the use of technology and the importance of the issues the WI promotes were among some of the topics discussed with our advisor.

She said the WI was “the greatest political party we never had” and that it had been at the forefront of raising awareness, via its campaigns, of issues such as breast awareness, loneliness, Aids, plastic microfibres, FGM and “pennies in slots” for WCs.

She advised that the federation had been writing to manufacturers regarding plastics and was also heavily involved in education for women.

Lyn also gave a brief account of her background in nursing.

On Maundy Thursday eight members enjoyed a visit to Lilly’s Tea Rooms in Dorchester for a pot of tea and a freshly made hot cross bun.

Our new president and four members attended the Oxfordshire Federation’s annual meeting in the Newman Rooms, Oxford, where Simon King was the guest speaker. More local outings are in the planning and Benson WI will be supporting a number of village events throughout the year.

At our April 18 meeting, we will welcome Emma Wise to talk about her work as the senior community fund-raiser at the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed.

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

CAVERSHAM

AS has been the practice for the last five decades, Caversham WI held its annual meeting in March.

We elected a new committee to take us through the next year, reviewed the highlights of the past year and discussed some of our options for developing the group for the year ahead.

Last year we were fortunate to be able to assist with the kiosk café in Caversham Court Gardens, which was very enjoyable, in addition to receiving our monthly schedule of speakers.

We hope to be able to grow — so far we have welcomed five new members in 2018 — and actively support the national WI campaigns, such as finding ways to relieve loneliness locally.

We have started several key conversations and hope to be able to announce some exciting news soon.

The new programme has been finalised and includes a mixture of subjects of local interest and as “far out” as space travel.

Ladies are very welcome to visit our friendly group. We hold meetings 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 at Church House in Prospect Street.

For more information, visit https://tinyurl.com/
hwzj6zy or search for “Caversham WI”.

CHAZEY

ON a cold March evening members gathered for our annual meeting.

We were very pleased to have the company of Hilary, our outgoing president, who spoke to the meeting. She has been a great president, full of enthusiasm and ideas.

After the election of our new president, Valerie Holden, we gathered together for refreshments and the committee met over tea/coffee to decide the officers.

We welcomed a new WI member to the committee, taking our number up to six plus the president.

The competition was won by Ann Jones with Mary Wall second and Theresa Manning third.

The raffle was won by Carol and our biannual bursary winner was Rowena Sumner.

Chazey WI meets at the Caversham Heights Methodist Church Hall on the first Wednesday of the month, beginning at 2.30pm. We welcome new members. For more information, email chazeywi@gmail.com

COCKPOLE GREEN

ON March 21 president Adrienne Rance welcomed 22 members to our 86th annual meeting.

The tables were decorated with bunches of daffodils by Anne Whittaker, heralding the welcome approach of spring.

Retirees from the committee were Maureen Rothery (vice-president), Mary Lowe and Jean Stewart. They were thanked for all their hard work over the years and presented with stunning azalea plants by Adrienne.

The re-elected committee members were: Adrienne Rance (president); Barbara Lloyd (secretary); Maureen Bunn (treasurer); Anne Whittaker; Selina Avent; Sheila Williams; Nana Davis.

Nominees who were seconded to join the committee were Carol Ellis, Ruth Mary Vaughan and Judi Rowlands.

Treasurer Maureen distributed the accounts, which had been audited by Michael Porter. Vivienne Northridge was thanked for auditing the accounts for many years.

Once a year a bridge drive is held to raise funds for the WI. This year’s was very successful and raised £150 for our chosen charity, Parkinson’s UK, thanks to the generosity of the players who bought raffle tickets.

Highlights of the year included a very interesting visit to Hever Castle, excellent speakers and a most successful garden party at the home of Jill Tomlinson, where we sat in the shade to avoid the scorching sun!

After the business was concluded, members settled down to enjoy a quiz organised by Adrienne, which covered general knowledge, history and “crafty bakes”, for example, “A Peruvian bear would like this one” (see answer below).

It was very entertaining as well as frustrating judging by the number of groans as members racked their brains!

The next meeting will take place at Crazies Hill village hall on Wednesday, March 18 at 2.30pm. The speaker will be Mr Mole with a talk entitled “The Mole man”.

Quiz answer: Marmalade (cake).

GREYS

ANOTHER busy year goes rushing past and it’s annual meeting time again.

This March marks the 98th birthday of Greys WI and, as well as all the fun times, we continue to be involved with local concerns and community matters and help where we can.

After being welcomed by our president Val and the usual business of the day had been dealt with, it was explained that to celebrate the centenary of the Oxfordshire Federation in 2019, it is planning to produce a wall hanging.

Each Oxfordshire WI has been given details and asked to make a small embroidered panel showing a leaf motif. Eventually all will be joined together to form the wall hanging. Our members have chosen the ivy leaf, which represents friendship.

Now we have to put on our thinking caps and propose ideas for our own centenary celebrations in March 2020.

On Thursday, April 12 the Beechwood Group will be meeting at Stoke Row WI at 7.30pm when the speaker will be the highly amusing Kevin Little.

Our knit and natter club meets again on Friday, April 20 at 10.30am at Val’s house.

Looking ahead to summer, when it eventually comes, we will visit the John Lewis Heritage Centre in Cookham in July, enjoying a cream tea of course.

Now to the annual meeting. Doreen, our treasurer, took us through the audited accounts in detail, which showed healthy results. She had been complimented by the auditors on her clear and comprehensive paperwork.

The committee’s annual report detailed our many activities and involvement with the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Women’s Refuges in Oxfordshire and Berkshire and good health programmes.

There were also social events such as flower arranging, crochet demos and the lunch club and interesting speakers on a variety of subjects, serious as well as fun, such as being in an orphanage, tunnelling and laying pipes under rivers, what Victorian ladies wore (lots of petticoats) and travel photography to name just a few.

Outgoing president Val Mundy thanked everyone for their involvement in making Greys WI happy and successful with everyone involved one way or another, Jo supervising the raffle stall, Millicent organising the lunch club, among many other things, our secretary Janet keeping things businesslike, Jenny our chief correspondent for the Henley Standard, Merryl a whizz of activity on all fronts, Doreen, who relaxes from being treasurer and adding up all those boring sums by making the most beautiful and delicate crochet and knitting, Suzanne for making the world’s best marmalade and jam as well as running the plant and greetings cards stall, Joyce for her flower demonstrations and all the other ladies who so generously supply the cakes, sandwiches and biscuits for our teas.

Next came the ballot for the election of the president and we voted overwhelmingly for Val Mundy to be re-elected and the committee to remain in situ.

The last item on the agenda was the presentation of the competition cup to Joyce Robins for coming top of the competition league table.

By this time we were all ready for a cup of tea and we rounded off the afternoon with a quiz, just for fun.

For our April meeting, Frances Benton will tell us all about “Pearls, nature’s only living gemstones”. Do come and join us on at Greys village hall on Wednesday, April 18 at 2.30pm — you’ll be very welcome.

HAMBLEDEN

OUR vice-president Sarah Williams opened our March general meeting and welcomed 33 members and two guests.

After singing Jerusalem, we were reminded of the plans for this month of the walking, art and book groups.

Maureen Cleary said that the drama group would meet on Thursday, April 19 at 7pm at her house.

Members wishing to attend the Slade Group meeting at The Ridge, Bledlow, and the annual council meeting of the Buckinghamshire Federation were asked to contact our secretary, Jan Connelly.

A poetry appreciation afternoon had been held for members and this stimulating and enriching session was led by our member, Louise Andrews. Christine Hatfield gave a report and our heartfelt thanks.

Further workshops and outings are planned for later in the year. Some members joined the February walk around Swyncombe and were lucky to have a fine day and the chance to enjoy the snowdrops at St Botolph’s Church. This was followed by a much-welcomed pub lunch.

Our speaker this month was Jayne Walker, from the Henley branch of the Cook Company, who remembered serving us a Christmas meal in the village hall some years ago.

She told us a little of the history of Cook and how the founders, Edward and Dale, began to work together to produce good, home-made frozen meals.

Now the Cook Company opens five or six shops a year and has a total of 90.

Jayne was keen to inform us of the excellent working conditions within the company and of the charity it supports.

She was supported by her assistant, Jill Clark, and members enjoyed samples of chicken Dijon and three different lasagnes followed by delicious puddings.

Our next meeting will be held at Hambleden village hall on April 12 at 7.30pm when someone from the NHS clinical commissioning group will tell us about local developments in healthcare.

For more information about our branch and to see our 2018 programme, please visit our website, www.hambleden-wi.org

HARPSDEN

ALTHOUGH the weather was wintery, there was a good turnout of 33 members at the annual meeting in March.

The top table was resplendent with spring flowers for the competition.

It was reported that the recent coffee morning, which was poorly attended, still raised £41 for the Denman Appeal and the Associated Country Women of the World.

Congratulations are due to Steeple Aston WI, which is 100 years old this month.

Denman College is 70 years old this year and a platinum garden party will be held on September 15 from 4pm to 11pm. Bands and singers will be performing music from the last 70 years. Barbecue food and hampers will be available to purchase.

The Oxfordshire Federation’s digital team is available with internet advice for any member wishing to improve her skills in this area.

Tickets may still be available for the Art Taster at Benson on April 12. Contact should be made directly with the federation office at Tackley.

The Victoria and Albert Museum is staging an exhibition entitled “Ocean liners — speed and style”. Timed tour tickets have been arranged so there will be no queuing. A coach is organised for May 22, picking up at Nettlebed. The cost is £36.

Members are invited to enter the Lady Denman Cup competition by writing in no more than 500 words about “the day that changed my life”. Full details can be found on the MyWI website or from the Tackley office.

There is a fascinating workshop being held in East Hendred on June 14 for creating “Painted and stitched illuminated letters”. Members can create a medieval-style letter using old wooden printing blocks and metallic paint and bronzing powder.

The federation is offering a pre-Christmas outing from December 10 to 12 (but with a closing date of the end of April).

This will include a visit to Peckover House in Wisbech and then to see the Thursford Christmas spectacular, which is billed as the largest Christmas show in the Country with more than 100 professional actors and musicians giving a three-hour performance of singing, dancing, humour and variety.

The following day, on the journey home, a stop will be made to see Lode Mill at Anglesey Abbey and lunch will be taken in Cambridge. The cost is around £300.

Harpsden WI members will be able to enjoy an outing to Kelmscott Manor on May 31 — full details next month.

The result of the monthly competitions was announced and Pam Hails had accumulated the most points over the past year. Shirley Weyman was second and Judith Young third. They all received pot plants as prizes.

Pat Eades then led the procedure for the annual meeting.

The satisfactory financial statement was given by Pam Hails and was adopted.

Shirley read the annual report from the committee, mentioning all the speakers, good and not so good, over the preceding year.

Pat gave her president’s address, thanking individual members for their work on the committee.

Patricia Williams retired after 17 years and very special thanks were extended to Shirley as the retiring secretary and for lending her house on innumerable occasions for gatherings. As Pat said: “Where would we be without Shirley?”

However, Patricia was happy to stay on the committee as were Pam Hails, Mary Burton, Di Painter, Ann Lincoln, Suzanna Rose, Jean Newman and Judith Young. There was one new nomination for the committee, Annette Ambrose, and she was duly elected. Pat Eades was elected as president.

Di Painter gave the thanks of all members to Pat for her leadership.

After the annual meeting the speaker was Margaret Thomas, a fund-raiser at the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed. She was accompanied by Chrissie Phillips-Tilbury as an observer.

Margaret explained that during the Second World War Lady Ryder had been busy in the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry and in the Secret Operations Executive. She was called “The lady of Warsaw” for her work helping Polish airmen. She was married at the age of 21, then widowed and then married to Leonard Cheshire.

In 1954 she opened the first hospice in Cavendish, Suffolk.

Lady Ryder had the ability to inspire people, as do the staff of the seven hospices that now exist. Margaret explained the nursing that is offered at Nettlebed and to the 80 or so patients in the community.

Naturally, she could not avoid talking about the proposed closure of the hospice at Nettlebed, which costs £9,000 a day to run.

She explained about the establishment of a “hub” which would be built somewhere in this area. At present the enrolment of more nurses is being pursued for the increasing care which will be given in people’s homes.

Margaret answered many questions after her talk.

The competition for a spring flower was won by Joan Hoyes, with Judith second and Shirley third.

The next meeting will be on April 11 when Giles Alder will speak about the Bucks, Berks and Oxon Wildlife Trust. The competition will be for a picture of wildlife. Meetings are held at Harpsden village hall at 2.30pm. A warm welcome is given to all visitors.

HOT (HENLEY-ON-THAMES)

AT the March meeting our president Katie went through the programme for the next year and spoke about the Henley May fair, asking for contributions and help to staff the stall.

Our secretary Alison mentioned various news items before our secretary’s and treasurer’s reports were proposed and seconded.

Pat Eades presided over the committee elections. All the members were willing to stand again and were unanimously re-elected along with the president.

There followed a social with wine, coffee and cake.

At our next meeting on April 20 we will have the wonderful Ravi Singh, a local chef and nutritionist, to talk about healthy eating while giving us a demonstration of some delicious dishes to try.

It will be held at Sacred Heart Church hall in Walton Avenue, just off Vicarage Road, Henley. Come along and bring a friend.

MILL GREEN, WARGRAVE

JONATHAN FRYER, a very talented actor, was our guest speaker on March 7. He gave an inspirational talk on his life in the theatre.

He was advised by his father, who had been an actor himself, to embrace the profession in repertory.

One of the most enjoyable things about working in provincial theatre was that usually the plays were long runs and local people would recognise the actors on the street and offer their opinions on performances. It helped the cast feel at home.

After national service in the RAF, Jonathan went directly into rep, acting and stage managing.

His job as an assistant stage manager required him to go around the town borrowing props from local businesses.

With the promise of a mention in the programme shopkeepers and the general public were usually very helpful, even on one occasion transporting a live goat by bus into town and home again. The bus company charged the goat a child’s fare!

Repertory theatre is very immediate — rehearsals would start on Tuesdays for plays to be performed by the following Monday.

The theatre depended on the box office in the Sixties and Seventies as there was no Lottery funding as there is now.

Rep theatres were lucky if they were granted £50 by the Arts Council so it was important for the theatres to cast their productions carefully and correctly and to manage their ticket sales assiduously.

Jonathan regaled us with amusing tales of the actors he had worked with in his long career.

He continued with many stories about his and colleagues’ experiences talking to WIs and other groups.

One particularly funny incident occurred when Colin Tarn (famed for the production of The History of Denman) asked at a meeting how much he was to be paid for his WI talk and the treasurer replied, “How do I know? We haven’t counted the raffle money yet!”

There were many references to favourite poems and lighthearted verse in the talk. The following is just a sample:

Loss by Wendy Cope

The day he moved out was terrible
That evening she went through hell
His absence wasn't a problem
But the corkscrew had gone as well.

A poem by David Mitchell (found after his death)

I flop into our bed with thee,
Ovaltine and Milko
There we lie in ecstasy
Watching Sgt Bilko

Jonathan once sat next to Jean Simmons in Rules restaurant in Covent Garden. He was in heaven discussing theatre with her.

He continued with humorous stories from the film world, from Laurel and Hardy to Ralph Fiennes and told us of the many actors he admired and the one he is seriously in love with, Nicole Kidman.

He thinks the best actress today is Eileen Atkins and second is Kristin Scott Thomas and best actor was the late Denholm Elliott.

The talk ran for a good hour but it could have gone on all night as Jonathan’s prolific memory seemed inexhaustible.

The vote of thanks was given by Esther Peacock.

President Frankie Macmillan opened the business and Carol Evans acted as secretary, reminding us of the bring and buy stall for Associated Country Women of the World at the April meeting where the speaker will be villager Sue Milton on “The five-day swan upping census”.

Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month. Please do come along.

PEPPARD

WE had a lovely annual meeting in March, covering all the business and matters arising.

After a tea provided by all the members, we discussed future plans. This was followed by the flower of the month awards announced by Pauline Leicester who had brought a lovely flower arrangement.

Irene Lindsay was voted in as president as were the committee members and we all look forward to a busy and rewarding year with involvement by everyone.

Our next meeting will take place at Peppard War Memorial Hall on Wednesday, April 1 from 2pm when Elizabeth Hazeldine will talk to us about “Characters of Henley”. Visitors are most welcome.

REMENHAM

AS our president was on holiday, vice-president Judy Palmer was in the chair.

There were 14 members present with six apologies.

There was only one birthday posy, for a past member Judy Fraser, a past president and wonderful member for many years, who has resigned because of ill-health.

After the usual business, the raffle was won by Joyce Tivey.

We were told of a new Berkshire book being prepared. June and Barry Shelton and Jim Bland are collecting items about Remenham and Judy Fraser is looking out her sketches of the parish. Five members will attend the Berkshire Federation’s spring meeting in April.

There will be a talk entitled “Tea with Mrs Beeton’s sister” at Woodley Church Hall on May 11 and our summer outing will be to Hughenden Manor.

The Denman Cup competition is for a short article on “The day that changed my life”.

The resolution chosen by Berkshire members that will go forward to the National Federation’s annual meeting in June is “Mental health matters”.

Our chairman then introduced Vanessa Davies whose talk was on “All for you” — exercises to help with our general health and wellbeing.

Vanessa gave us an entertaining talk on all that we should and could be doing to give us a better lifestyle.

We should be doing a minimum of 30 minutes’ exercise per day with simple things such as going up and down the stairs, sit-ups and crunches etc.

Control your eating with no snacking and limited drinking of alcohol.

She recommended various gyms and swimming pools etc which members could join and she could help with personal fitness programmes for individuals.

Vanessa was heartily thanked for a riveting talk.

Afterwards we all enjoyed a hearty tea of delicious sandwiches and cake, prepared by Carol Wissett and Jen Terry.

Our next meeting is “Handbells extraordinaire” will take place at Remenham village hall on Monday, May 14 at 2.30pm. All are very welcome.

ROSEHILL

PRESIDENT Margaret Pyle welcomed members and visitors to our March meeting, which is our annual meeting.

The record of the February 2018 meeting was available for all to see.

The sales table and raffle continue to make good amounts each month.

Margaret Seal handed out the birthday buttonholes.

The various clubs continue to flourish.

We were reminded that subscriptions for 2018 were now due as was the balance of the Mill at Sonning Theatre trip on June 14.

Diaries for 2019 can now be ordered at a price of £4.70. The Caversham Group of WIs’ annual meeting will be held on May 23 at Caversham Heights Methodist Church Hall in Highmoor Road. Tickets (£5) are available from the treasurer Judith Sharp.

Then we came to the main item of the afternoon, namely the annual meeting. President Margaret announced that no apologies had been received.

The appointment of an independent examiner for 2018 was proposed by Judith Sharp and agreed by a show of hands.

We then heard the financial statement for 2017 and this was proposed and seconded.

Secretary Mary Robinson gave the committee’s annual report, reminding us of the very interesting and varied speakers we had heard during the year, plus our birthday party, summer cream tea and harvest lunch.

Mary went on to say that members had attended the Berkshire Federation’s spring council meeting and the Caversham Group of WIs’ meeting as well as a very enjoyable outing to a lunch and matinée performance at the Mill at Sonning Theatre in June.

Members continue to support the Royal Berkshire Hospital, making 12 twiddle muffs for patients with dementia, 14 blankets and two dignity shawls for the elderly care wards, plus 31 hats, 27 cardigans and 15 blankets for Buscot Ward.

In addition we have also donated 341 emergency toiletry packs for accident and emergency as well as six jumpers for Christian Community Action.

A very successful year.

The annual report was adopted.

Next we had the president’s address. Margaret said that she was retiring as president after seven years in office and thanked all the committee and helpers for their hard work during that time.

Mention was made of Yvonne Wright retiring from the committee and she was presented with a bouquet.

We then had the presentation of the committee plus three new members, Gill Sawyer, Carol Adams and Brenda Thames.

Finally, we elected a new president, Arlene Riley. Thank you, Arlene, and good luck in your post.

We meet at St Barnabas’s Church Hall, Emmer Green, on the first Wednesday of the month at 2pm.

SHIPLAKE

THE floor of the Memorial Hall was being renewed so the March 21 meeting was held at Shiplake Bowls Club. President Joan Jolley thanked the club committee.

The club is holding a bowls taster day on April 29 and all are welcome to go and try a game.

Joan then gave details of the Beechwood Group meeting on April 12.

She told us that the speaker from the February meeting had been in contact to thank members for their generous donations to Blood Bikes, the volunteers who deliver blood for seriously ill people.

Sue Lines announced details of the visits to 42nd Street, Leander Club in Henley and to Burford.

Pam Hudgell would be taking bulb orders for next season.

Joan then pointed out some of the important items in News & Views, especially the Victoria & Albert Museum exhibition, the Denman party and the piece on nuisance calls.

Then followed the annual meeting, which was not the usual dull affair but a celebration of the many triumphs of the past year.

Rosemary Appleby gave a very upbeat treasurer’s report and Barbara Rowlett followed with the catering report.

Sandy Porter announced that a donation of £138 had been sent to the Associated Country Women of the World and that the winner of the Elsie Southam Cup was Frances LeFebure.

Sue Lines gave an amusing report on all the outings during the year which included RHS Wisley, the Bombay Sapphire distillery, Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella and shopping at Hungerford.

All the members thanked Sue for doing such a good job as outings organiser.

Pam Hudgell read the competition report and announced that the winner of the Burge Cup was Susan Partridge.

Joan then gave the president’s report and reminded members of all the wonderful things we had done during our 90th birthday year — the birthday cruise on the Thames, the summer party, the official birthday party in October and the Christmas lunch at The Crown.

On the more serious side, there was the exciting start of the new Beechwood Group and the meeting where Shiplake hosted and served tea to 80 ladies. The committee was then unanimously voted back in to serve another year.

After the meeting a delicious tea was served. The tea hostesses were Wendy Channel and Joyce Vernon. Thanks to the catering team for managing such a wonderful tea in a different kitchen.

The winner of the flower of the month competition was Frances LeFebure with a lovely white pieris.

The winner of the competition was Rosemary Appleby with a very unusual yellow china cup and saucer decorated with fruit and flowers.

The next meeting will be on April 16 when the speaker will be Andy Thomas talking about “The crop circles mystery.” The competition will be for the best corn dolly. Visitors are always welcome at meetings.

More details about Shiplake WI can be found on the villages’ website.

SOUTH STOKE

MARCH is an important month in the WI year because as well as the monthly meeting it also brings the annual meeting.

We met in the village hall on Tuesday, March 13.

We celebrated birthdays with two of our members this month. Cards and small gifts are always given but with one of these being a very special 90th a bouquet was also presented.

Social outings are always being organised and this month we are having a group lunch at Goring and Streatley Golf Club. The outing there last year was so popular we opted to go again — a nice compliment to the club.

There is always something on offer to appeal to all members each month, whether organised by ourselves, our county committee or headquarters in London.

Annual meetings can be daunting but are a very important part of the running of any organisation.

This is when financial matters are discussed and our treasurer is herself a treasure as she always explains simply and clearly income and expenditure.

The majority of the latter is spent mainly on speakers as costs for them, particularly for mileage, go up.

Good speakers are essential but so are social meetings and we have so many talented members in our midst.

To have some of them share their skill and enthusiasm with us is always fun, rewarding and a privilege.

The ballot for president saw Rita Mann re-elected. Six serving committee members were also re-elected for the coming year.

After the business section of the meeting, our speaker was introduced.

Jane Stubbs spoke about “The fight for votes for women”, a particularly significant subject as this is the centenary of the year when some women were at last granted the right to vote.

The campaign by women to gain the vote had taken more than 60 years and the turning point was the end of the First World War.

Women who had been essential to the war effort were no longer content to return to obscurity with decisions being made for them.

These were women who had driven ambulances on to the battlefields to rescue wounded soldiers and had worked in munition factories, many in senior positions because the men were at the front fighting. They had proved their capabilities and were determined to keep them.

In the beginning only women who were householders, graduates or of independent means were granted the vote but eventually it was extended to all.

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to these women and also the men and there were many men who supported the women’s campaign throughout the years.

It is easy to forget the sacrifices many made for the freedoms we enjoy today.

Afternoon tea was then served. This is a chance to discuss the talk just heard, catch up with friends and, best of all, enjoy the great cakes, tarts and sandwiches our hostesses had produced.

Three members take it in turns to host tea each month and it is very much appreciated so they always get a very big vote of thanks.

We meet every at South Stoke village hall on the second Tuesday of every month at 2.15pm. We are a very friendly group and visitors are always welcome.

SONNING COMMON

OUR March meeting marked the end of another hugely successful year for Sonning Common WI.

Our president Jenny Ward welcomed everyone to the meeting, which included the annual meeting, and Jenny gave a very warm welcome to Pat Eades who was present as our teller to oversee the election of the committee and president for the coming year.

Reports followed. Jenny Ward informed members that the resolution to go forward to the National Federation’s annual meeting in Cardiff on June 2 is to be “Mental health matters as much as physical health”. More than 100,000 members had voted this year, which is a record.

Sue Frayling-Cork had organised six of our members to form a team to enter the village quiz and members wished them good luck on the evening.

Another successful coffee morning was held in March with a record attendance and the members of the public outnumbering WI members.

There is a representative of Age UK present at all of our village coffee mornings and this is proving to be of much interest, as are the monthly films that Age UK is showing in the village hall.

Gill Hayward was thanked for her involvement since the inception of our coffee mornings in 2013. These will continue to raise funds for local community causes.

Jenny Hermon reported on the trip to Cholsey to hear Liz Payne talking about her experiences as a midwife in India and Malawi.

She had devoted much of her life to midwifery in very poor countries, including working with Mother Theresa and also visiting a leper colony.

She then returned to the UK for a short while before setting off for Nyasaland, now known as Malawi.

She worked there as a midwife for 17 years and saw many improvements in facilities for mothers and babies and devoted herself to helping bring healthier babies into the world and to their care in the early months.

After a delicious lunch served by the foreign affairs committee, the second speaker was introduced.

This was Cath Watson, from the South Yorkshire Federation, who spoke of her many visits to Romania over the last 20 years with members from other federations.

They set up the Women’s Forum, which enabled and encouraged women to have meetings and to learn crafts.

The darts group has had a successful year. Jo Denslow gave out the following awards: Doubles out champion for evening matches — Lesley Davies, lunchtime matches — Carol Townhill; Highest score of 120 for evening matches — Sue Green; Highest score of 90 at lunchtime matches — Yvonne Wood.

The teams have greatly improved but we still struggle sometimes to get those elusive doubles out. More importantly, we have lots of fun!

The competition cup for the most points given for competition entries was won by Caroline Gough. The annual trophy for the flower of the month competition was won by Jo Denslow.

The annual meeting then began with all members rising to sing Jerusalem.

Our treasurer Anne Croxson presented the audited accounts for the year ending December 31, 2017 and a copy of this report was given to all members to view.

Our accounts are in a healthy position and our fund-raising continues to supplement some of our activities and craft sessions.

Anne was thanked for her excellent management of our accounts and members applauded her with enthusiasm.

Sue Hedges read our annual report, which included all the many activities and events that had taken place in the last 12 months.

There were too many to list here but highlights were the continued success of our village coffee mornings, raising more than £2,000 at car boot sales for the Denman Appeal, collecting for the Nomad food bank and helping at various stalls in the community.

There was a craft workshop and monthly craft sessions, monthly Scrabble games, fish and chip suppers, bingo, quizzes, summer outings, Christmas lunches and entering an exhibit in the Henley Show for the first time and coming second.

Three members had attended the National
Federation’s annual meeting in Liverpool and came back full of enthusiasm and drive to encourage more members to attend this year’s meeting in Cardiff.

We have had a super year and our membership has increased to 68.

Sue concluded by saying that we should all look forward to another fabulous year of belonging to the WI and all that it offers.

She had displayed scrapbooks dating back to when we opened in 1956 on the side table for all to see.

The president gave her address and proposed the adoption of the annual report.

Jenny thanked the officers and committee for everything that they do during the year to assist her as president and asked the members to join her in thanking them for the invaluable work they do.

Jenny then handed over to Pat Eades for the voting procedure.

Pat began by saying what a fantastic WI we were and was impressed by all our activities and support to the local community. All members of the committee were re-elected for a further year. Jenny Ward was re-elected as president for another year and members gave her their support with a round of applause.

Alison Bishop gave the vote of thanks to Pat Eades for her proficient role as teller.

After the raffle, refreshments were served.

The evening continued with a quiz set by Beverley Porteous and the winner was Pat Eades who was presented with a box of shortbread bunnies with an Easter theme.

Beverley was thanked for organising the quiz which was, as usual, testing but fun. She was presented with a bunch of flowers.

Jenny thanked everyone for attending, saying they were welcome to stay on to socialise and to have a safe journey home. She added that she was looking forward to another successful and happy WI year.

STOKE ROW

OUR annual meeting went well with a very interesting talk as well as the usual business.

After five nominations for the post of president for the next year, Sandra Farmer was duly elected. She has been our temporary president for six months and is now prepared to do it “for real”, for which we are grateful.

Some committee changes resulted in two coming off and two going on, so again we have sufficient to keep our successful WI going into its 63rd year.

Reports were read and many members thanked for their support over the last year. Then the usual announcements were made of the various extra group interest dates coming up.

The latest walk turned out to be in the snow but the eight who went round Hailey enjoyed the exercise.

Our speaker was Gill Rushworth from Wyfold Riding for the Disabled.

What a wonderful organisation it is, providing the opportunity for children and adults to ride their eight horses and ponies into places where they may not otherwise have had access.

It is good for balance, muscles and confidence to learn how to ride when they have some measure of disability.

We were all in admiration of this group of mostly volunteers who enable this help. One of our own members, Sheena, has been helping there for several years. Some members joined Woodcote WI for their skittles evening in Wallingford and had a great time.

We do not yet know what the programme planners have in store for us from next month but we will find out when we get there.

With the help of Gill, the Fishy item was chosen to go forward to the group meeting competition which we are hosting next month. Our speaker is to be the fishmonger from Reading’s Smelly Alley with his humorous anecdotes.

Supper, raffle, stem of the month and the awards for the year for this particular competition rounded off a pleasant evening.

WATLINGTON

THE annual meeting took place in March and Kath Gomm agreed to stand as president for one more year.

As only one member of the committee was retiring, the outgoing committee also agreed to stand again along with Anglia Jacobs, who was joining.

Many thanks to Eleanor Holden for her work on the committee for many years and to Kath for being willing to stand again.

After the business of the evening, teas and delicious cakes were served. Then Eleanor Holden held an excellent and hilarious game of Pictionary. Our next meeting will be on April 11 when Roselle Hyman will be giving us a talk about bumble bees.

In May our speaker will Georgiana Sol talking about the Dutch flower market. June will be our anniversary garden party (details to come).

If you would like to come and meet us, we hold our meetings at Watlington town hall at 7.30pm. For more information, please call Kath Gomm on (01491) 612939.

WHITCHURCH HILL

EIGHTEEN of our members visited the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed at the beginning of March.

We were welcomed into the Fleming Room, where Gemma Wise, senior fund-raiser, told us about the possible future of the hospice, which is due to be sold.

Following a welcome coffee and biscuits, Gemma gave us a short talk and a number of questions was put by WI members.

We then split into smaller groups of five to be taken round to see some of the work that is done as well as two of the (unoccupied) bedrooms and facilities.

The hospice has 12 beds in this fine, 100-year-old building, which can accommodate patients aged 18 and over with life-limiting conditions. On entering, one is struck by the calm, welcoming atmosphere and the range of different services offered by medical and nursing staff, and volunteers who obviously have the wellbeing of their patients at heart.

We will be interested to hear how the services will develop.

Our usual meeting followed a week later, being our annual meeting when we had 25 members attend with apologies from six others.

After the usual statements and reports we re-elected our president Frances for a further year and as all the committee members had agreed to stand again they were re-elected en bloc.

We still have a vacancy on our committee for one more member so are hoping that someone new will volunteer.

The annual was followed by a short business meeting.

We drew the winner of this year’s bursary and it was won by Denyse Williams who will be taking the opportunity to book a course at Denman College.

The winner of this year’s silver cup and garden token was once again Liz Gibson, who frequently finds interesting flowers to enter for our flower of the month competition.

We received a report from our sub-committee on “alleviating loneliness” and this will lead to some action in the next few weeks.

In early April we will have our 65th birthday lunch.

Our usual business meeting will take place on Tuesday, April 17 and will be followed by a demonstration of “Microwave magic” by Jennipher Marshall-Jenkinson (with tasters).

Our 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 10.15am. Visitors are welcome. For more information, please call 0118 984 1696.

WOODCOTE

ANN LARDEN welcomed members to our annual meeting on a warm spring day after the snow of the previous weekend.

We were delighted to welcome Pat Hunt as a new member of our WI.

Celebrating a birthday this month was Jo Seymour, who also won a voucher for winning bloom of the month for 2018.

Carole Shelley-Allen was our competition winner for 2018 and also received a voucher. Forthcoming events include a platinum garden party at Denman College in September, a trip to Kelmscott Manor in August and a trip to the Victoria and Albert Museum in May.

There will be a group meeting hosted by Cleeve by Goring in April when Graham Sutherland will give a talk called “Wicked women”.

In June our homes and gardens group will be going to Runnymede and then on a boat trip to Windsor.

The table tennis group is getting fit for the summer and we have arranged a chance to chat meeting. Thank you to Marianne for hosting this.

Audrey Hawthorne has arranged lunch at the Highwayman this month.

Betty Thomas has retired from the committee but is still willing to help with teas when needed. A big thank-you for all her hard work.

Ann Larden, our president, thanked everyone for all they do for Woodcote WI. Margaret Carter, our treasurer, keeps our finances in order, which is no mean feat!

The annual meeting was followed by a beetle drive thanks to Gill Woods.

This was followed by a delicious tea thanks to Audrey Hawthorne, Iris Lewis, Shirley Bryant and Sylvia Atkinson.

Come and join us in at Woodcote village hall on the third Wednesday of the month at 2.30pm. Everyone is welcome.

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