Monday, 14 June 2021

WI Reports



SANDRA welcomed members and visitors to the April meeting.

The minutes were read and signed and News & Views magazine was briefly gone through, picking out interesting forthcoming trips, such as BBC Birmingham and Hampton Court.

Sandra also gave a report on the Oxfordshire federation’s annual meeting, which she had attended at Oxford Town Hall. This covered many fund-raising projects, including Help for Heroes.

The guest speaker was the TV personality Mark Stacey and his subject was antiques.

The speaker for our meeting was Sqn Ldr Claire Evans, from RAF Benson.

She gave a brief resume of her time in the RAF, which began with a degree in engineering and then into recruitment.

She has served in Iraq and the Falklands and surrounding islands. She then told us about the base, which flies Puma and Merlin helicopters and is a very busy station with 600 houses.

There are four computer-based training classrooms and other units which include Chiltern Air Support, the air ambulance, Oxford University Air Squadron and a weather unit.

The vote of thanks was given by Brenda.

Everyone then sat back and chatted over a delicious tea served by Yvonne and Kath. This gave our visitors time to make new friends and we hope they enjoyed their evening.

The raffle prizes were won by Jenny and Linda. At our meeting on June 19 we will be inviting George Verdon to speak about the Gurkhas.

We meet every third Wednesday in the month at the parish hall at 7.30pm. Come along and make new friends — a welcome awaits you. For more information, call Mary on (01491) 838748.


THE May 13 meeting was held in the village hall as usual.

During the course of the last month, members had enjoyed a walk in bluebell woods, culminating in a delicious fish and chip lunch at Orwells in Shiplake.

This meeting was set aside for the resolution debate with the results of the voting to be taken by the Witheridge Group delegate to the national federation’s annual meeting in Cardiff.

Wales has a very special meaning for the WI as the first meeting in the UK took place on September 11, 1915 at Llanfairpwll in Anglesey with the movement having two clear aims: to revitalise rural communities and to encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War.

Our speaker for the evening was Penny Cole. who gave a talk called The Wonder of Wool, which was very interesting and extremely informative.

She pointed out that the history of wool is as ancient as the hills, yet as astronauts wear it for comfort in their spacecrafts it is also as modern as moon flight!

Primitive man discovered the durability of wool when clothing himself in sheepskins in 10,000 BC. In Britain it began to be woven into cloth during the Bronze Age (about 1900 BC).

By the time the Romans invaded, a strong wool industry had developed, which they encouraged. Roman emperors described British woollen cloth as “so fine, it is comparable with a spider’s web”.

Cloth from English looms quickly achieved an international reputation and by the 14th and 15th centuries England was largely a nation of sheep farmers and cloth manufacturers.

In the 16th century Huguenot weavers fled persecution in France and sought refuge in England, bringing their skills with them. Consequently, the next two centuries increased the expansion of the industry.

Radical changes took place during the Industrial Revolution of 1750 to 1850, leading to the Luddite Riots of 1812 when machinery was destroyed by bands of workers who feared that they would lose their employment. Machinery eventually won the day.

East Anglia’s industries, where the opposition had been strongest, declined and never recovered. They were overtaken by Yorkshire where machinery had been more readily accepted. Scotland and the West Country became important manufacturing centres for tweed and woven carpets respectively.

Wool is still the most versatile textile fabric known to man and its uses are legion. For example, piano hammers are covered in wool felt and the seats in planes and trains are covered in good quality wool as it has a high safety factor and is resistant to static electricity.

Mrs Cole showed a short DVD explaining about Black Hills Farm in New Zealand where the wool she uses and sells comes from.

The farm was originally built by pioneers from Scotland in 1860 and is now thriving with organic sheep producing organic wool.

The flower of the month was won by Janet Wise with a beautiful tulip named Angelique.

Yvonne Clinch won the competition with her attractive knitted Cinderella doll.Our next meeting will be on June 10 at the village hall when the subject of the talk will be The ABC of the Earth, which should prove interesting. Please feel free to join us — you can be assured of a very warm welcome.


THE president Doreen Howells welcomed 23 members and one visitor to the May meeting. Four birthday posies were presented to members.

Doreen reported on her recent visits to the South Chiltern Group meeting at Harpsden and the Witheridge Group meeting at Sonning Common after which a vote was taken as to which group Greys should join. It was decided that we would stay with the Witheridge Group.

We then had a debate about the resolution to be discussed at the national federation’s annual meeting in Cardiff about the decline of our high streets and town centres.

After a lively debate, the meeting voted for the resolution. Our delegate from Peppard WI was to vote on our behalf.

The president then welcomed Bob Whelpton who gave a talk on chocolates.

During his talk we were given several of the delicious chocolates as a taster and afterwards we had the opportunity to purchase his products.

Mr Whelpton donated several boxes of chocolates for our next raffle.

Mrs Leaver gave the vote of thanks for a very interesting talk.

The competition was won by Mrs Thetford with Mrs Williams second and Mrs Leaver third. Mrs Mundy won flower of the month with spring flowers in a tea cup.

The next meeting will be on Wednesday, June 19 at 2.30pm when there will be a talk on Helen and Douglas House and the competition will be for an item from a charity shop. For more information, call 0118 947 3209.


THE president Frances Emmett welcomed 24 members to the resolutions meeting, where the proposals were discussed and voted on to go to the annual meeting in Cardiff.

The walking group had raised £50 when they returned to Sue Walden’s house after their last walk and enjoyed home-made soup. The money was sent to the Associated Country Women of the World together with £12 raised at the plant stall.

There was a special social lunch at Frances Emmett’s house on May 15 from which the proceeds will go to the branch and its chosen charity. There was a coffee morning at Red House, Pheasant’s Hill, on May 30.

We have booked the village hall for October 17 for a quiz evening.

Pat Eldridge reported that the Singathon held on Whit Monday had raised £500 for the village hall.

Caroline Cook was congratulated on winning third prize for her decorated plate at the area group meeting in Aylesbury, where there were 30 entries.

The resolution meeting was chaired by Liz Jarvis and Shelagh Green spoke in support of WI members making more use of high street shops as so many are disappearing.

Jenny Byrne spoke in favour of alternative ways of shopping, i.e. the internet and home deliveries. There were several abstainers but the meeting narrowly supported the resolution.

The meeting continued with members bidding to have their charity chosen as the next year’s project.

Pat Eldridge spoke about the Iain Rennie Hospice at Home, Sue Walden about One Can Trust, Angela Detsiny about Riding for the Disabled and Margaret Spratley about the Henley Branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Angela won the vote for her chosen charity with her appeal.

Members enjoyed discussing the events of the evening over teas provided by Ann, Maureen and Jenny.


PRESIDENT Mary Burton was surrounded by a myriad of herbs as she opened the May meeting.

The speaker Barbara Davies had brought along a vast selection for her talk later in the afternoon.

Birthday greetings were given to Doreen Cave, Rosemary Emmerson and Shirley Weyman.

Harpsden had hosted the group meeting in April when the hall was decorated with a large selection of hats, courtesy of the speaker. A successful raffle was held and £70 was donated to Associated Country Women of the World funds. Thanks were given to Harpsden for a friendly and happy afternoon.

Shirley Weyman is willing to co-ordinate ideas for making a pennant for the Oxfordshire WI. The federation plans to sew all the pennants together to form an attractive feature for the county meetings. Mary pointed out the many outings that the federation had organised and any member interested should contact Pam Hails.

Also mentioned was the Great Food Debate in 2013, which concerns global and national challenges of food security. Action packs will be sought for helping with the debate.

Members were invited to sign up for a tea party to be held at Audrey Fox’s home in Gallowstree Common on June 27. All profits will be put towards a new sound system for use at meetings.

Pat Williams is organising another outing — this time to the Watermill Theatre in Newbury on August 24 to see The Witches of Eastwick directed by Craig Revel Horwood of Strictly Come Dancing fame.

This is a matinee performance and lunch is available beforehand.

The president led members through the resolution to be discussed at the national federation’s annual meeting in Cardiff. This highlights the decline in high streets and town centres.

The high cost of business rates in many town centres was thought to be a big factor in the lack of vibrant high streets.

Harpsden WI voted that the motion should be supported and would instruct the delegate to vote accordingly.

A vote in favour of the new constitution which was being presented to the WI movement at the annual meeting was recorded.

Harpsden WI member Barbara Davies then spoke about her passion for herbs.

It was some years ago that she first became interested in growing herbs and while at an adult college she completed a project on “Life in my Garden”, which was partially about herbs and she gained her RSA qualifications.

She mentioned that a herb garden at a care home is a particularly good idea as the smell from the herbs is of benefit to the residents.

Barbara had a variety of herbal teas to speak about and said feverfew was very useful in treating migraines. Chewing parsley helped get rid of the smell of garlic on the breath.

Parsley was quite difficult to grow, she said, but remember the old saying that, “Where parsley grows the woman is dominant”.

This was Barbara’s first talk to an audience but she held the interest of the members and was warmly thanked by the president.

The competition for a herb in any form was won by Shirley Weyman, with Pat Williams second and Di Painter third.

The next meeting will be on June 12, when Wendy Black will speak about Bhutan — A Mountain Paradise and the competition will be for a holiday souvenir or photo.

On July 10, Harpsden member Suzanna Rose will speak about her duties as a High Sheriff of Berkshire.

All Harpsden WI meetings are held in the village hall, starting at 2.30pm, and offer a very warm welcome to visitors.


A FASCINATING glimpse into how the memory works was given by Simon Williams on May 1.

He could easily remember, in order, a list of the names of 26 objects suggested by the audience. He then proceeded to explain how he had created a mental alphabetical map and placed all the objects on the map so he could repeat them.

He also explained the memory works better if rhymes, stories, symbols and mnemonics are used to aid recollection.

He taught us an amusing little ditty to enable us to recite the alphabet backwards. A lengthy question and answer session followed.

The resolution for adoption at the national federation’s annual meeting on how to revive trade in the high street was passed by a majority.

Amendments to the WI constitution and articles were also passed.

Our forthcoming events are:

* June 19 The Wargrave village bridge evening in the junior school at 7.30pm. Tickets are £12.50 each to include a light supper. There is free parking in the school playground.

* June 29 A festival cake stall on Mill Green.

* July 3 Ros Fernley, Wargrave librarian, will give a talk entitled Beyond the Library Bookshelves.

* August 7 Our usual garden party. The venue is to be announced later.

Meetings take place in the Hannen Room on Mill Green at 7.30pm on the first Wednesday of the month.We welcome new members. Call Penny Hampton on 0118 940 3080.


AFTER we had sung Jerusalem, our president Mrs Sadler presented Mrs Elms with a bouquet of flowers and a card to celebrate her 90th birthday. Once the business was over, Mrs Sadler introduced the member from Peppard WI who was to be our delegate at the national federation’s annual meeting in Cardiff.

She presented us with the draft update of the WI constitution, which we all approved.

Then it was to the business of the resolution to be debated concerning the loss of shops and footfall on high streets around the country and how to reverse the trend.

After some discussion, we agreed that our delegate should decide how she would use our vote after listening to the debate at the meeting and would return to us at our next meeting to explain and report how things went.

Mrs Sadler then introduced Pauline Verbe and Dorothy Ackerman, who gave us an account, with films, of the progress of the charity Valley of Hope, which is based in Watlington.

It helps to support the inhabitants of a village near the mining area of Kimberley in South Africa, who have been devastated by the loss of their young adults to AIDS, leaving grandparents to care for and support the children.

They explained and showed us how they are encouraging the villagers to help themselves. Money for food parcels is sent out monthly under very strict supervision. This has been very successful.

The villagers have been encouraged to plant a vegetable and fruit garden to improve nutrition. The latest advance has been the erection of a windmill with the help of the local mine management. This has proved invaluable in pumping water from the deep bore hole to irrigate the garden.

The villages are enormously grateful to Pauline and Dorothy for taking the trouble to travel to see them and for their input to the charity. After refreshments, the meeting drew to a close.

Mrs Ackerman won the bargain of the year competition and Mrs Marsh won the flower of the month with Mrs Ackerman and Mrs Hayward in close pursuit.

Our next meeting will be in Mrs Montgomery’s garden at 2.30pm.

Our meetings are normally held at 7.15pm on the third Monday of the month at the community hall. Visitors are very welcome.


MEMBERS arrived at Peppard Memorial Hall to find a room filled with small round tables covered with brightly covered tablecloths and dishes of assorted sweets in the centre. A jovial, informal meeting followed.

Our president dispensed with the routine business in record time.

A small group of members was asked to form a committee to plan the pennant for the federation competition.

The president announced her intention to hold a series of informal coffee and/or tea parties so that small numbers of members could meet, chat and help newer members to integrate more easily.

Jane Mikhail was welcomed as a new member and one prospective new member attended her first meeting.

Future trips were announced as follows: August 14 Peppard WI day out in Oxford; August 20 and 21 The Supreme Court and Somerset House; September 5 RHS Wisley Gardens.

The Peppard WI birthday lunch will be held on or around February 27, 2014. A lively discussion took place on the national federation’s resolution regarding the decline of the high street.

Votes for, against and abstentions were recorded and these results were to be taken to the federation’s annual meeting in Cardiff.

Members then moved on to finding the way forward for Peppard WI in its 95th year.

Aspects members liked about their WI were listed at each table, with one person acting as scribe.

From the chair, each table in turn presented their likes until all had been heard. Similarly, dislikes were listed and some aspects appeared on both lists! Again, all dislikes were aired until none remained.

Records of all points of view were taken and will form the basis of a survey at a later date.

Our meeting closed with the results of the flower of the month competition.


BEFORE the meeting started we had a group photograph taken by Daphne Walker for her to produce a plaque with a painted outline for the 50th anniversary in June — luckily, we had a beautiful afternoon for this event.

Members were able to see archive items that will be displayed at our June meeting.

President Margaret Pyle then welcomed members and visitors and the usual meeting took place with reports from secretary Margaret Seal and treasurer Doris Goddard.

There was no speaker this month as we had the WI resolution about the decline of our high streets and town centres to vote on. After some discussion, this was carried unanimously.

The planned walks for April did not take place.

A suggestion was made by Brenda Caborn that items be knitted for Christian Community Action, a local charity that helps needy families in the Reading area.

A group of members from Rosehill WI attended the Berkshire federation’s council meeting at the Hexagon on April 19 where Margaret Pyle collected our certificate for the 50th anniversary.

The speaker was Paul Mayhew-Archer, who co-wrote The Vicar of Dibley and My Hero, among other shows. The was a very interesting and, at times, extremely funny talk.

The meeting closed with a very welcome cup of tea and biscuit.

We meet at St Barnabas’ church hall in Emmer Green at 2pm on the first Wednesday of the month. Please come along and see us, we will make you very welcome.


PRESIDENT PamHudgell welcomed all members to the May meeting.

For the majority of WIs throughout the country May is resolution month, when we discuss the topic of debate at the national federation’s annual meeting.

Every year WI members have the chance to put forward issues for resolutions that they want to see the national body campaign on.

This year is slightly different in that the only resolution put forward came from the national board.

The subject is the decline of our high streets and town centres.

Delegates take WI groups’ votes to the meeting and if the resolution is passed it becomes mandated and forms the basis of campaigning and awareness-raising activities in the years ahead.

Pam began our discussion by highlighting some of the points to be considered — town centres are not solely for retail outlets, shopping habits have changed significantly with the rise of internet shopping and this area is very affluent and not representative of the whole country.

To give our members a fuller picture of how Henley is faring in these difficult times for the high street, Pam had invited the town centre manager Peter McConnell along to tell us what the situation is really like and what things are being done, or could be done, to help Henley town centre remain a vibrant local asset.

The final opinion of Shiplake members was that lobbying by the WI should concentrate on urging local and national governments to reconsider the current system of business rates and to make it disadvantageous for landlords to leave premises empty for long periods and encourage them, in the interim, to make premises available for use as “pop-up” shops.

Suggestions for improving Henley itself included cheaper parking with provision of a park and ride shuttle bus from the station car park to a shopping pick-up point at Waitrose.

The resolution was passed by 38 votes for to one against.

While the ladies were in a voting mood, they unanimously passed changes to the WI governing documentation.

The usual lovely tea was supplied by hostesses Shirley Moore and Hilary Penrose.

If you would like to join us, please do come along. Our meetings are held on the third Wednesday of each month (except August) at Shiplake Memorial Hall from 2.30pm. For more information, please call Pam Hudgell on 0118 940 2105.


MEMBERS met for the May meeting in the village hall to discuss and vote on the resolution for the forthcoming year. A lively meeting it was too!

Routine business was carried out as usual before the meeting proper began.

Special mention must go to the second Sonning Common WI coffee morning, which followed on from the success of the inaugural coffee morning, raising a good total and seeing a healthy amount of footfall. Thanks were given to all involved.

The forthcoming coronation street party meeting in June was also discussed and members were invited to sign up to provide food and any willing parties to provide memories and/or memorabilia for the event.

The June meeting is set to be one of the best in recent months.

The meeting proper began with changes to be made to the WI constitution, which the president went through assiduously for the benefit of members. Draft copies were circulated.

The motion to vote in favour of the amended constitution was 25 in favour, 0 against, with no abstentions.

The resolution was about the decline of the high street. The president went through the briefing, which highlighted the following main concerns:

* The past 20 years have seen a sharp decline in town and village centres.

* Online shopping, out-of-town shopping centres, a decline in public spending due to the recession, reluctance of banks to loan and high rates and rents for businesses have all contributed to this decline.

* Older people suffer as the hub of communities is degenerating.

* Shopping habits have changed with the advent of the internet. In 2007, 4.8 per cent of sales were made on the internet, compared with 12 per cent in 2012. It is predicted that by 2020 30 per cent of sales will be made over the internet.

* Supermarket dominance has been instrumental in the decline of small independent shops.

Members considered these points and discussed what the WI could bring to the resolution, such as:

* Experience of high street success stories that can be shared.

* Practical opportunities to become involved — campaigning, local activity, days of action.

* The pressure members can bring to bear on local and national government.

A lively debate ensued regarding the positive points and pitfalls of the resolution.

The president commented that this was one of the liveliest resolution meetings she had attended. The vote was taken and 18 were for the motion to accept the resolution, four against with one abstention.

To conclude the meeting, the flower of the month was won by Carol Wilson, with Angela Thorne in second place and Mairwen West in third.


OUR May meeting was, in line with most other WIs, to discuss the national federation resolution on the decline of our high streets and what can be done about the empty small shops etc that are spoiling the traditional high street atmosphere.

After we had given our vote to our delegate going to the annual meeting in Cardiff, we continued our meeting with a talk from one of our own members who is a newly trained independent financial advisor.

A mixed sales table provided added interest and raised some funds for charity.

Several outings were mentioned, from our own walk round Oxford to others from the federation such as Tyntesfield, a National Trust house, a science lecture in Oxford and the RHS Wisley garden.

The craft group, book club and swimming groups all continue to meet in between meetings and we took names for those helping at our fund- raising coffee mornings and teas to cater for.

There was plenty of catching up on the news over refreshments, while the raffle and flower of the month winners were announced.

Our next meeting in June will be something different, entitled Cyanotype on Fabric, and we hope to exhibit any homemade quilts owned by our members. Visitors are always welcome.


MEMBERS celebrated the 60th birthday of the institute on Tuesday, April 16 with a buffet lunch for members and guests from other WIs.

The committee catered for the main course and there was a delicious variety of sweets made by other members.

Local professional pianist Janet Pound gave a short talk and played a selection of pieces ranging from the classics to more recent musical entertainments.

Recently elected president Frances Strange reminded members a visit to Hardwick House in June.

At the May meeting, members discussed the resolution to be placed before the national federation’s annual meeting in Cardiff.

Much concern was expressed about the need for regeneration of our high streets with the increase in internet shopping and the shortage of parking places having a deleterious effect on our small local shops.

The vote was taken and support was expressed by 17 members with one against and one abstention.

The decision having been made, members sat back and enjoyed a demonstration of flower arranging by Patricia Stanton.

Social events abound this summer. The Whitchurch Hill fete was supported by the WI with tea and cakes making a welcome break for those attending.

In June, members will enjoy a river cruise from Caversham to Henley with time for lunch and some retail therapy.

In July, there will be a coffee morning at Woodcote where Whitchurch Hill WI will provide the coffee and cakes and also run a tombola.

Meetings are held on the third Tuesday of the month at Goring Heath parish hall at 10.15am.

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


WE met on May 15, a cold, drizzly day, for our resolutions meeting.

Patricia Solomons welcomed the members as Audrey played the piano and we sang Jerusalem.

Birthday buttonholes were presented to Audrey Hawthorne and Hazel Tagg.

We had a debate on the resolution, which was about the decline of our high streets and town centres, and heard many interesting points of view.

The lunch group will meet at the Highwayman and the Chance to Chat group is also meeting.

Thanks were given to Betty Thomas for arranging the trip to Coughton Court, which we all enjoyed.

We had a quiz, which was great fun, so thanks to Kathy Brewer and Rose Metcalf for organising it.

This was followed by a lovely tea thanks to Joyce Sopp, Carole Shelley-Allen and Dot.

We had two lovely scrapbooks to look at thanks to Monika Watters who put a lot of hard work into taking the photos and documenting all the information.

As we came out of the hall the sun made an appearance and spring was back! New members are welcome.


ON Wednesday, May 15, vice-president Maureen Rothery welcomed members and speaker Susie Wingate, a local resident, who talked about her fund-raising activities for Cancer Research.

Susie explained how four years ago, her friend Jo Taylor, another mum with a young child at Crazies Hill School, was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in her lungs and liver.

This devastating news motivated a group of parents to offer their love and support to Jo by fund-raising for Cancer Research UK.

This was the start of an amazing achievement by 10 sets of parents, who initially wanted to raise £25,000 but when they reached this target, they didn’t stop and now, thanks to all their efforts, the amount raised is more than a staggering £100,000.

The first big challenge in 2010 was to climb Mount Triglav in Slovenia, all 10,000ft of it — an amazing achievement considering some of the parents confessed to being couch potatoes! Jo managed to join them in this.

This was followed by a Commando Challenge in 2012 involving, canoeing, mountain biking and hiking.

Two black-tie balls, with charity auctions, raised lots of money too and even the children were involved with their own Great British Bake-Off-style event.

Susie pointed out that every single penny went to the charity as all the members of Team Triglav were self-funded.

Such has been their success that Henley is now twinned with Bled in Slovenia.

Jo continues her fight with cancer and her fortitude and courage continues to inspire her friends, proving that cancer research really does work.

In recognition of her own courage and fund-raising, Cancer Research UK presented Jo with a Flame of Hope award in London on May 24.

Her story on the charity’s Facebook page received more than 2,000 “likes” and comments from others waging their own personal battle.

If you’d like to help Susie raise more funds by having, for example, a coffee morning, she would be happy to hear from you on 0118 940 1049.

Mrs Rothery reminded members of two changes to the 2013/2014 programmes. The garden party is now a day later, on Thursday, June 20, while the meeting scheduled for March 20 should read Wednesday, March 19, 2014.

Plans are well under way for this year’s Wargrave Festival, when we will be holding a craft/home-made stall. Can members please ask any committee member to collect their contribution before June 29?

Thanks were given to members who volunteered to help out on the day.

Diane Bush spoke about this year’s resolution for the national federation’s annual meeting about the decline of our high streets and town centres.

As members were already aware of this problem, the resolution was carried unanimously.

Our garden meeting will be held at Pat Bartholomew’s home in Crazies Hill on Thursday, June 20 at 2.30pm. For more information, please call Selina Avent on 0118 940 3426.

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