Monday, 14 June 2021

News from the WI

Around the WI


OUR president Yvonne welcomed members to our Christmas meeting.

A minute’s silence was given in respect of Isobel Taylor, a Benson WI member for many years, who had sadly died the week before.

A £20 donation to the County Memorial Bursary Fund will be sent in Isobel’s memory.

News & Views and forthcoming events were then discussed.

Our member Delia has invited members to an open house on January 29. As well as offering delicious refreshments, this will be a fund- raising event in order to boost WI funds.

Our Christmas cookery stall had been a great success and Yvonne thanked all members for their contributions.

Our treasurer Linda gave details of our current financial situation.

Simeon Courtie was then welcomed to the meeting to delight us with his talk entitled “Beatnik Beatles — A man and a van, a wife and three kids and their round-the-world road trip as the world’s worst Beatles tribute band”.

I think many of us were expecting a musical evening but we were certainly not disappointed as we heard how, on a dreary dismal day, the plan was hatched in a fast food outlet for his family’s “gap year”.

He had convinced his wife that they should travel the world but she had imagined posh flights and swanky hotels, not a Volkswagen camper van which was to be their home for a year.

Giving up their home and jobs and after 18 months of preparation, they were ready to busk Lennon and McCartney hits in every country.

Along the way they gatecrashed an Italian wedding, suffered brutal torture at the hands of a Turkish masseur, appeared in a Bollywood film and amused their online fans who avidly followed their blogs about the journey.

Their aim was to raise £5,000 for UNICEF, which they achieved after travelling 38,814 miles with 333 days spent on the road and visits to 17 countries.

They started from Liverpool, the original home of the Beatles, and ended at Strawberry Fields in America.

After the talk, members enjoyed mulled wine, mince pies and home-made biscuits.

We meet on the third Wednesday of the month at Benson village hall at 7.30pm.

Our next meeting will be on January 21 when our talk will be on the Blue Cross charity.

We would love you to join us. For more information, please call Lin Reader on (01491) 836800.


THE final meeting for members was held as usual in the village hall on a very cold night with 19 members present.

As Dunsden WI was being suspended, many members were naturally very sad to perhaps lose contact with each other by way of joining different groups of WIs.

The committee suggested through the president that perhaps a venue might be sought for the members to have a meeting once every month for the purposes of coffee, lunch or tea.

Each member could then attend to suit themselves and keep in contact with each other.

Communications had been received by the president from other WIs in the area expressing regret at our closure and also offering our members to join their own groups.

A letter has been written to Vera Bodman, chairwoman of the Dunsden village hall committee, communicating the figure of £500 that will be donated to the hall renovation project in memory of 56 years of Dunsden WI serving the local community.

Much more than a single speaker, the Three Pressed Men entertained us with a piano accordion, a button accordion, voices in harmony, hammer dulcimer, guitar, melodeon and various beautiful old concertinas, bringing our final celebration of 56 years to a suitably enjoyable ending.

Not only did they play these beautiful old instruments with great skill but they gave a précis of the history of each.

It appears that their rather unusual title comes from the idea that “one volunteer is worth three pressed men”. (This saying sometimes states a different number.)

The word “press” has at least a half dozen meanings, one of which is a verb meaning “to take by authority, especially for public use”.

Various militaries would “press” a man into serving in the army by physically grabbing him in the middle of the night or by serving him with a notice that he was to report for duty under threat of imprisonment.

The phrase is an opinion stating that someone who volunteers for military duty would perform 10 times better than someone who was drafted or “pressed” into service.

These Three Pressed Men were definitely enthusiasts who were happy to spread their knowledge of their instruments and their skills to the rest of us.

After a wonderful supper of various savouries and home-made cakes, all washed down with wine, juice, tea or coffee, a presentation was made to the current president Rosemary Greeley of a variety of beautiful cyclamen in a plant container, together with some garden vouchers.

With emotional thanks, she paid tribute to all the other members, who in their time had acted as presidents and said how much she would miss the opportunity to participate in all the interesting activities among such good friends.

Janet Wise had attractively wrapped some delightful small packages for each member to take home with them as a memento of a wonderful last evening together as the original Dunsden WI.

We gave each other a poignant farewell and, amid promises of meeting regularly, drifted into the gloom.

However, there is a chance for revival if there are local women interested in setting up a replacement group for Dunsden WI because for three years the effects of Dunsden will be kept by the Oxford federation in Tackley ready to pass to a new group, together with the leftover cash balance. After three years, however, the cash and effects will be absorbed into the national federation.

So, if any of you out there would love to set up an institute that is full of women who are “movers and shakers”, call the National Federation of Women’s Institutes on 020 7371 9300 and take over where we have left off.


MEMBERS met for our Christmas party on Wednesday, December 10.

Our president Val Mundy kept business to a minimum.

We were sadly depleted through illness but had a relaxed afternoon with several quizzes, which were enjoyed by all.

The competition for a Christmas table arrangement was won by Joyce Robins with a beautiful arrangement of pink carnations in a basket.

A delicious tea was enjoyed with every member bringing a plate of food. We had a grand raffle with everyone getting a prize.

We finished the afternoon by singing We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

Our next meeting will be on Wednesday, January 21 when Eileen Race will give us a talk on finance in later life. All are very welcome.


WHEN members and guests arrived for the Christmas party they found the hall had been decorated and the tables laid for a festive meeting.

Chairman Frances Emmett announced that there would be no formal business but thanked all those who had contributed towards making such a delicious supper.

After a glass of mulled wine and canapés, members settled in to be entertained by Betty Page, an impressionist who delivered a slick routine based on Joyce Grenfell’s monologues.

Her rhymes and stories made the evening go with a swing.

After mince pies, cake and more wine, the audience joined in carol singing led by Christine Wells and the choir.


IT was a great shame that so many members were unable to be present at the December meeting as the committee had worked so hard to make the tables look festive for teatime and to provide a Christmas spread.

Sandwiches, cakes and mince pies were therefore in plentiful supply for those attending, including two visitors from Shiplake WI, Rachel Lloyd and Ursula Davies.

President Mary Burton gave birthday greetings to Pippa George, Joan Bree, Christine Davison and Pat Williams.

It was good to hear that Shirley Weyman was well enough to return home from Townlands Hospital in time for Christmas.

The recent coffee morning held at Di Painter’s house raised £52 for WI funds.

Anyone wishing to attend the annual meeting at the Royal Albert Hall on June 4 as an observer (at a cost of £37) must sign up before January 2. Roses ordered by the South Chiltern Group to celebrate the WI’s centenary in 2015 have arrived and will be planted at Greys Court. There will be a ceremony there in the New Year to see how well they are growing.

Names were taken for the lunch at Henley Golf Club on February 11 and the list will still be open at the January meeting. The contact for this event is Judith Young.

The outing to the Dominion Theatre in London to see White Christmas was very much enjoyed and Pat Williams is to be thanked for the immaculate, hassle-free organisation.

Storyteller Fionnaghal then entertained us with Winter’s Tales, going from the 13th century to the present day.

Her audience was fascinated by her delivery of the tales as they evolved.

She even brought her mother into one tale about buying a hat from a jumble sale to attend Her Ladyship’s party at the Big House as a young girl in 1914.

The competition for a posy of berries was won by Audrey Fox with Anne Thornton in second place and Jean Pryke third.

Since the December meeting, eight members have visited Shiplake WI for their Christmas party.

They are to be congratulated on the beautiful table decorations, the delicious tea and the overall friendly atmosphere of the afternoon.

Our next meeting will be at the village hall on January 14, commencing at 2.30pm when there will be fun and games organised by the committee.

The competition is for a Christmas card — decorative, unusual, humorous or any other version. Please come as a visitor and join in the fun.


THE beautifully decorated hall was a great setting for an enjoyable festive afternoon with guests and old friends.

Carol Wheeler brought her bells along to play for us and we all joined in singing some carols and Christmas songs.

After tea, which was provided by members, we had a great raffle and everyone received a gift from a large red sack by the door on leaving.

Our first meeting of the New Year will be on Wednesday, January 14 at 2.30pm when Eileen Dickson will talk to us about Victim Support.We take this opportunity to wish you all a happy New Year.


WE were all welcomed by president Margaret Pyle to our December meeting on a cool but dry Wednesday afternoon.

Margaret went on to thank Margaret Seal for the table flowers and said that the record for November’s meeting was available for all to see.

Next she brought our attention to the fact that the annual meeting 2015 resolution form was in the current issue of WI Life for anyone one who wished to select one of the following resolutions: The next 100 years; Plant a tree for the future; Public access defibrillators; Failing to care — assessment of need in long-term care; Cutting back on food waste; Ending FGM (female genital mutilation); To curb the use of antibiotics.

These forms must be completed by the January meeting.

There was a walk along the riverside on December 9 and scrabble sessions on December 10 and 31.

Margaret said that two members had been to see Esme Ellingham, who is doing fine and she sent her wishes to all members for Christmas.

Thanks have been received from Doreen Mann for the flower card sent last month.

The pennant made by Yvonne Wright and Jean Hewitt for the 2015 banner has been taken to WI House.

We also had a bring and buy sale which made about £25 — thanks to all those who contributed.

Margaret then introduced our speaker, Alix Booth, who spoke about Punch and Judy.

This was very interesting and entertaining.

Alix started by talking about the history of Punch and the fact that he is more than 350 years old, has had different names over the years, including Punchinello, and does not have many redeeming features.

She then gave us a short show with all the usual characters bringing it right up to date with one puppet looking very like Alex Salmond, which caused great amusement.

The afternoon continued with tea and mince pie or shortbread.

The raffle was the final item and included a beautifully decorated gingerbread house made by Yvonne Wright. Well done, Yvonne.

The meeting closed with Margaret wishing everyone a Happy Christmas.

That’s us for another year but why not come along in 2015 and see what we get up to? We meet in St Barnabas’ Church hall, Emmer Green, on the first Wednesday of the month at 2pm.


WE celebrated Christmas with a party on December 11 at Sonning Common village hall. Everyone arrived excited and full of festive cheer.

The hall had been decorated to the theme of Twelve Days of Christmas and garlands of “lords a leaping” and “maids a milking” etc adorned the walls.

We kept business to a minimum. Everyone was welcomed and a toast was raised to absent friends. A plant was given as a token of appreciation to Beverley Porteous who has resigned from the committee.

Beverley gave eight years of enthusiastic and committed service, including a year of being our president. She will remain a very valued member of our WI. Our party started with a group photograph taken by Kathryn Fell Photography, Sonning Common.

On looking through our archives, we realised that it had been some years since a group photograph had been taken and we thought Christmas would be the ideal occasion. The photo was then published in the Henley Standard, showing what a happy bunch we are!

We all sat down at tables covered with our new festive Christmas tablecloths kindly made by Beverley Porteous and Sue Hedges. Table decorations made of coloured baubles sparkled and crackers longed to be pulled.

After a festive tipple of wine or fruit juice we were introduced to our entertainer Alan McGurk, a magician.

His tricks were from times past with lots of string and missing balls but, as they say, the oldies are the goodies and he certainly entertained us and even sitting very close to him I could not see how he did it. Magic, of course!

The committee likes to look after the members at the Christmas party and provided and served the wonderful supper and refreshments at the tables. All around were happy faces and lots of laughter.

After supper each member drew a lucky tombola ticket which matched a small gift to take home. The evening finished all too quickly. To see the friendship shared by our members was a wonderful Christmas gift.

We are all looking forward to our centenary year in 2015 and all its celebrations.


OUR Christmas party was held in traditional style.

Members and some guests from nearby WIs were treated to a full Christmas dinner of turkey and tasty accompaniments.

Our superb small catering team, led by Jeanette, did a splendid job and everyone thoroughly enjoyed their meal, served to us piping hot and delicious. This was followed by a few games and a picture quiz on composers.

A huge raffle finished off the evening nicely, with most members being able to attend and also contributing to the raffle.

We had our usual annual collection of foodstuffs and toiletries for those less fortunate, which were to be delivered to the recipients before Christmas.

Our next meeting will be a visit from local craftsman Philip Koomen to tell us about his furniture- making business, From Forest to Furniture.

The New Year will see us celebrating 100 years of the WI and members nationwide will mark this milestone with various activities and celebrations.

The WI baton which is touring the country will pass through Stoke Row in April and we will be at the Maharajah’s Well to pass it on.

The major annual meeting, with great speakers, will be at the Royal Albert Hall in June and there will be other celebrations throughout the year.


BUSINESS matters took a back seat when members gathered for their Christmas lunch at the Highwayman.

It was good to welcome all our members who were able to attend and president Frances offered a special welcome to several who had been unwell and unable to come to recent meetings.

Christmas is also a time when we are able to think of some of those less fortunate and we were pleased to be able to make a special collection of useful items for the women’s refuges in this area.

The coming year marks the WI’s centenary and celebrations will be many and varied throughout the Berkshire federation.

Our programme for the coming year is almost complete and our speaker at our meeting on January 20 will be Sir Hugo Brunner who will be talking about his mother, Lady Brunner, who spent many years supporting the WI and Denman College, the WI’s own college near Abingdon.

The centenary annual meeting at the Royal Albert Hall in June will also be of great interest.

All members have been asked to place their votes for the resolution and make their choice from seven different subjects, including the next 100 years, planting trees, defibrillators, long-term care, food waste, FGM and antibiotics. We will be sending in our individual votes before January 23.

Each month we organise a social event for our members and guests, separate from our regular monthly meetings, when members can get together and do something different.

Last year was our first year for this and the various lunches, walks, trips, teas etc were warmly welcomed and well supported.

Meetings take place at Goring Heath parish hall on the third Tuesday of the month at 10.15am. Visitors are welcome, so do come along and find out what we do. For more information, please call 0118 984 1696.


SHIRLEY BRYANT welcomed members, our visitor Jenny Gough and our speaker to our meeting on December 17.

A birthday buttonhole was presented to Joan Snook who was celebrating a very special birthday — 90 years young!

Several of our members had attended the Christmas songs at Oxford town hall, which started our Christmas celebrations.

We had a lovely afternoon thanks to our speaker Ken Fitt, who entertained us with the life and music of Irving Berlin. They don’t write songs like that anymore!

This was followed by a tea made by the committee. Gill Woods had made us a scrumptious Christmas cake, which was enjoyed by everyone. This was followed by Secret Santa!

Audrey Hawthorne was thanked for organising the lunch group throughout the year.

Our competition was for a small table decoration and was won by Barbara George.

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

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