Wednesday, 23 June 2021

WI Round Up

February meetings

BENSON OUR President Yvonne welcomed members and two visitors to our February meeting.

WI business and forthcoming trips were discussed before our speaker, Bobby Higson, began his talk on Helen & Douglas House.

In 1982, Helen House was the first children?s hospice in the country to be opened.

It was the brainchild of Sister Frances Dominica, a nun who had befriended a family of a very sick child and recognised the need for family support as well as the medical needs of the child.

Helen House can accommodate eight children between the ages of two and 18 at any one time. Douglas House, which was built in 1984, has seven rooms for young adults.

A flat is available for families to stay in while their child receives respite care.

As there is limited bed space, Helen and Douglas House is currently providing nursing care for 300 outbound families.

The two hospice houses, situated on the outskirts of Oxford, care for children and young adults with life-threatening conditions and provide medically supported short breaks for the children and their families as well as offering 24-hour, one-to-one end-of-life care and support.

Families from Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Northants, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and parts of London are helped.

Care is tailored for individual needs and young people who are unable to lead independent lives are helped to live life to the full, even when that life is short.

Bobby?s main task is fund-raising and he explained that it costs more than £5million a year to run the two hospice houses and that the charity is dependent on voluntary contributions for more than 80 per cent of the costs.

A lottery, sponsorship, charity shops, community events, legacies and the generosity of people in the local community all help to fund the care for those in need.


WE met on February 18, a bright and sunny afternoon that optimistically promised spring, and were welcomed by president Val Mundy.

Throughout 2015 we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Women?s Institute in the UK.

The centenary annual meeting will take place in the Royal Albert Hall in London on June 4 and will be screened simultaneously at Denman College as well as online.

A federation link baton is journeying around the country, visiting every WI branch. On April 20 it will reach Dorchester Abbey in Oxfordshire, where the bells will ring in a welcome, and then go through Goring, Sonning Common and Stoke Row to arrive at Greys WI on April 21 at 1pm.

After this it will visit Greys Court before leaving Oxfordshire for Berkshire.

Your reporter realises that she is giving this baton a life of its own, rather like royalty, but she should stress that during all its perambulations the baton rests firmly in the hands of WI members.

Our speaker was Nick Brazil, an author, photographer and documentary maker, who gave an illustrated talk called ?Castles in the air?, thus inspiring our competition for the best picture of a castle.

In fact, his castles were those of the imagination and he presented an affectionate tribute to the ?wilder shores? of Victorian philanthropic inventive talent.

Many inventors of the time had a burning ambition to improve the lot of their fellow men, even if most of their inventions were, to put it kindly, completely barmy.

We were introduced to the lightning conductor umbrella, guaranteed to save your life if hit by lightning and to the rocking chair which allowed its female (of course) occupant to sew, rock the baby to sleep and churn the butter at the same time.

And we WI members thought that multi-tasking was a recent invention!

Meanwhile, the man of the household was getting about on a succession of more and more bizarre bicycles, one of which resembled a hamster wheel and was said to reach 24mph.

Another travelled on telegraph wires ? the Hachburger telegraph wire bicycle of 1850. The things you learn at a WI meeting!

We visited Russia, where a chap with the endearing name of A Popov designed a circular warship, which sadly was a sitting duck as it moved too slowly, and on to France and the ?Father of the cinema?, who disappeared lock, stock and luggage into thin air on a train journey to Nice.

No one was surprised to hear that the majority of these inventions failed, either because they just didn?t work or, more sombrely, they turned out to be death traps. However, some endured and others were ahead of their time.

This was an amusing and very interesting talk.

I?m pleased to report that we had 10 delightful pictures of real castles. First prize went to Doreen Howells, second to Jean Hooke and third to Suzanne Thetford. Tea was produced by Millicent Gibby with wonderful coffee cake.

Our next gathering will be our annual at Greys village hall on March 18 at 2pm. For more information, please contact or call 07706 663982.


DESPITE a very cold evening, members turned up in force to enjoy our February meeting.

The Buckinghamshire federation?s spring council meeting will be held at the Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury, on April 22 from 10.30am to 4pm.

The local group meetings of WIs will be getting together at Booker village hall on March 23 at 7.30pm.

June 16 will be rather special with the federation?s centenary celebrations at Waddesdon Manor. A grand picnic has been planned for all participating members of WIs countrywide.

Sue Livesey is keen to hold a sewing bee on May 6. Molly Carter has kindly offered to host this meeting, where green material will be cut into aprons and embroidered for use by the catering group.

The national federation?s annual meeting at the Royal Albert Hall in June will be attended by Eileen Collins and Margaret Spratley, the latter to be our delegate.

Jenny Byrne is anxious to start a drama group. Her idea was well received.

Christine praised Margaret Spratley for her well-organised outing to the houses of Parliament.

Jeanne Keene enquired of Frances Emmett if any home-grown events would be organised by Hambleden WI to celebrate the centenary and was assured that there would be.

Margaret Spratley was congratulated on achieving her 60th wedding anniversary.

Sheila Green introduced our speaker Christopher Moy JP. He has been employed by Wycombe District Council for the last 17 years. He specialises in advising in education, local politics and criminal justice.

Chris? job is unpaid but with expenses. Men and women apply and come from all walks of life and all ages. Three JPs will sit in court at any one time and at all  hearings.

This interesting talk prompted many questions before Christine gave the vote of thanks.

Teresa Russ, Audrey Ambrose and Pat Eldridge provided us with refreshments.


ON February 4 members met in the Hannen Room for the annual meeting.

The appointment of the new committee took place. Frankie MacMillan was elected as our new president with the rest of the committee remaining the same.

A vote of thanks was given to retiring president Jan French who will remain as a committee member and vice-president.

The financial report was given by treasurer Wendy Porter. Our bank balance is satisfactory and will be boosted this year by our two fund-raising events during Wargrave Village Festival. The adoption of the financial statement was approved.

The secretary Pat Jones reported on a very happy and successful year. She highlighted our varied speaker programme, the outing to Milton Manor, the coffee morning, our summer garden party and the delicious Christmas dinner.

Jan French thanked the committee for all their hard work and also thanked all the members for supporting our meetings so well throughout the year.

She reminded members that the present committee would welcome some new members as most had served for many years.

Pam Ziffo gave a sincere vote of thanks to the committee and thanked Jan for her efficient and friendly  presidency.

The speaker for the evening was Patsy Roynon who gave a very interesting and detailed talk on ?The history of Loddon Drive?.

She said the area that became Loddon Drive is all about water.

Historically, Loddon Drive did not exist as Wargrave ended at St Mary?s Church with very sparse habitation to the west of the church. Before the houses came, the area was just water meadows and fertile summer pasture. Winter time regularly brought flooding. Barely a handful of people lived in the area.

The advent of the railway changed this. In 1900 Wargrave gained its station (in those days complete with station master and waiting room).

The area of Loddon Drive began. Most of the early development was for pleasure houseboats and country retreats for weekends of messing about on the river.

These early dwellings were mainly built of timber, often resting on staddle stones or stilts to raise them above floods.

The floods have come and gone many times, the worst being those in 1947.

The area has seen lots of changes in the last 100 years. In 1936 access to Loddon Drive was greatly improved when Mr Bridgman (a local resident) built Bridgman?s Bridge.

Gradually the houseboats grew into cottages and many have been rebuilt several times. Houses have grown into mansions.

People who live by the Loddon appreciate the special quality of being close to water. The River Loddon remains the area?s biggest asset and, at times, also its worst enemy.

The programme for 2015 is as follows:

April 1 ? The royal state soaches by Peter Smith; April 13 ? WI centenary baton lunch, Henley Cricket Club pavilion (12.30pm); May 6 ? Zheng He: Discovering America by Roger Shaw; May 7 ? Group meeting, Knowl Hill; June 3 ? Outing to Syon House; June 17 ? Festival bridge night; June 27 ? Festival cake stall; July 1 ? History of flower arranging by Irene Manson, demonstrator; August 5 ? Garden meeting; September 2 ? Inside the tomb of Nefer by Paolo Scremin; Oct 7 ? Corry Starling, the ?Miller of Mapledurham?; November 4 ? How birds work by Brian Clews; December 2 ? Christmas dinner.

Mill Greem, Wargrave WI always welcomes visitors and new members. Our meetings are usually held in the Hannen Room, Mill Green, on the first Wednesday of each month at 7.30pm unless otherwise stated.


OUR president Irene Lindsay opened our meeting with a discussion about the plans for the WI centenary celebrations.

It?s all very exciting and will bring many local WI groups together on a number of occasions during this year.

We were fortunate indeed to have weatherman Ian Currie to give us an extremely professional talk on climate change.

Ian has written books, has a regular programme on the radio and writes articles for magazines.

Everyone was fascinated by his informative explanation about our climate over the centuries, which was accompanied by pictures and relevant data.

An enjoyable tea was provided by Di Ducker and Sian Foster and flowers were brought by Kathy Andrew.

Next month is our annual meeting while at our our meeting on April 8 we will welcome Edward Dixon, who will give an insight into ?Women on the home front?.

If you would like to join us you will be made most  welcome.


PRESIDENT Margaret Pyle gave the usual warm welcome to all present, including four visitors who we hope will become members.

As usual, the report of the January meeting was available for all to read.

Magaret went on to say that the WI centenary baton would be handed over to Oxfordshire on Tuesday, April 14 and asked if anyone wished to attend a celebratory lunch on the same day. A board was sent round for if anyone wished to participate.

Margaret then spoke about the forthcoming council meeting at the Hexagon on April 20 and again asked if any members wished to attend.

Margaret Seal presented the birthday buttonholes.

Treasurer Doris Goddard thanked everyone who had contributed to the fund for the emergency bags for the Royal Berkshire Hospital. She was pleased to say that 135 had been delivered and she was hoping for further contributions.

Pat Denney had been in touch with the Buscot Ward at the hospital and said that they were still delighted to receive the cardigans, hats and blankets made by members. The design of the hats has been changed and she will provide a pattern.

We then had a talk by Sally Botwright about the ?Gardens of the City of London?.

She is a blue badge guide and she gave an excellent talk (with slides) about all the small gardens within the Square Mile.

Sally said that up to seven per cent of the area is green, even if this only means a small pot with a plant in it!

Many different livery companies have their own gardens and are open to the public. These gardens are very popular with office workers in the summer months for relaxation and exercise.

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

We meet in St Barnabas? Church hall in Emmer Green on the first Wednesday of each month at 2pm. Why not come along and see us ? you would be made very welcome.


PRESIDENT Rachel Lloyd was pleased to see such a good turnout at the meeting on February 18.

She began by explaining the WI centenary celebrations when the baton arrives in Oxfordshire on April 14.

Three local WIs will travel to Dorchester Abbey on a decorated double-decker bus for a picnic with celebration cake. Rachel was keen for Shiplake to be well represented at this special event.

She told members about various county-organised activities and asked ladies to sign up for anything that interested them.

She announced that the new Shiplake programme of speakers had been planned by Lynn Turnbull and we were all looking forward to the many interesting talks in the year to come.

Pam Hudgell told members about the outing to Ramster Gardens to see the embroidery and textile art exhibition on April 28 and she explained that she would tell other local WIs to ensure we had a full coach.

She reminded everyone about the fund-raising event planned for March 7. This will be a race night with films of horse races. Tickets cost £15 each, which will include a supper and lots of lovely puddings.

It is vital that we raise extra funds so that the committee can continue to run a successful WI.

Members were reminded of the details for the next WI walk in Waltham St Lawrence and the ladies? lunch at the Crown in Playhatch.

Rachel then introduced the afternoon?s speakers ? Mark Lovett, a magistrate, and John Ennis, a senior probation officer.

They told us about their roles within the Berkshire courts system and explained how the magistrates and probation officers were able to work together.

They gave an example of a case of assault and members then discussed what the various outcomes might be and how they would impact on the accused and the victims.

The resulting discussions and questions were a welcome sign that the ladies had found the subject interesting.

After tea, the winners of the best Associated Country Women of the World flower competition were announced as Irene Crawford, Frances Lefebure and Susan  Partridge.

The winners of the competition for a piece of home-made jewellery were Ursula Davies, Susan Partridge and Pauline Watkins.

The March gathering will be our annual meeting and members were reminded to bring along a photograph, taken during this year, for the Grace Phillips Memorial Salver competition.

For more information, please call Rachel Lloyd on 0118 940 3975.


THE February meeting was opened by our president Sue Frayling-Cork.

Before the usual business, Sue asked Di Soden to show us the revamped Sonning Common Women?s Institute banner.

Di had taken on the challenge to rejuvenate it and members were not disappointed. She had skilfully included references to the duck pond, the red kites, flower beds, crafts etc, giving the banner a wonderful local feel.

The members thanked Di with a very rapturous round of applause.

Our banner is now ready for the WI centenary celebrations this year and will be having a few outings. As March is the month for the annual meeting, nomination slips for joining the committee were given out to members who were reminded that it was hoped to recruit another couple of people. In this regard, a draft constitution bylaw was read out to the members, outlining the terms of tenure for committee members and offices held. This bylaw will be voted on at the annual meeting. Our treasurer Anne Croxson reported that our accounts had been audited. She does a wonderful job of overseeing this role and keeping our finances healthy. Our president highlighted that we would be offering two bursaries this year and members were asked to apply in writing if they would like to go into the draw. Members were reminded to complete envelopes for the Denman Dip bursary, which would be drawn at the annual council meeting in March. We then had a very enjoyable social evening. Four members of the Sonning Common Short Mat Bowls Club came to entertain and instruct us on the rules and skill involved in this popular indoor sport. Chairs were moved to the side of the hall and the ?mat? was rolled down the middle of the hall. It soon became obvious that it was very much harder than it looked! We had to learn about the bias and not to hit the piece of wood in the middle of the mat. After a short demonstration, members were given the chance to have a go and after a few practice rounds, a match was organised. The overall winner was Lesley Davis who showed lots of promise. The evening was a great success and much enjoyed. The flower of the month was won by Sue Frayling-Cork with Joan Reeve second.


WE welcomed members to our 59th birthday meeting with flowers for those who were celebrating their own birthdays with us too. We had a lot of news to get through, with additional meetings for the craft and book groups, a walk planned for later the same week followed by a visit to a local furniture maker and tea afterwards at a member?s house. We are preparing for our turn at handling the baton that is travelling around the country. We will be attending an event in Dorchester Abbey, then having our own morning in Stoke Row before moving with it to Greys Court, all in April. We enjoyed our speaker this month who was the chocolatier at Tutu Delicious in Watlington. She told us the story of chocolate and how she became the owner of the shop, which has her workshop attached. She had brought some tasting discs to show the different stages of chocolate making, which were all delicious. Supper was followed by the cutting of our birthday cake by four previous presidents who are still members. We are having an open coffee morning in our villlage hall on Tuesday, April 21 from 11am to noon and we hope many local residents will join us to see the baton passing.


OUR speaker for the evening was Zoe Haynes, from our local chocolatiers Tutu. Her talk was entitled ?A passion for chocolate?. She gave us a brief history of chocolate from the discovery by Cortez in the 16th century to its development today. She went on to talk about her own passion for chocolate, which led her to set up Tutu in Watlington. She had brought along many different samples of chocolate with which to tempt our tastebuds. Our next gathering will be our annual meeting to be held at the town hall on March 11 at 7.30pm. If you are interested in joining our WI, please come along or call Kath Gomm on (01491) 612939 for more information. You will be very welcome.


MEMBERS enjoyed a fascinating talk by Steve Moll about ?The incredible world of the honey bee? at their February meeting. Steve has been a beekeeper for eight years and has studied their habits and methods. He came by the first of his hives by shaking a swarm off an apple tree. He explained how the bees search methodically for a new place to live, sending out groups of searchers to locate the ideal spot, sometimes inspecting half a dozen areas before making a decision, using remarkable powers of communication. We learned how they overwinter in their hives, in the process eating up to 25kg of honey to maintain themselves before they start producing honey for us in the spring. We were able to purchase some of Steve?s delicious honey and beeswax candles. Several members had taken a trip to Swyncombe to see the snowdrops at St Botolph?s Church. Our March social event will be lunch at the Pack Saddle. Future events in this centenary year of the WI will be the handover of the baton that has been travelling the country and will come to Oxfordshire on April 14. A large number of WI members will foregather. On April 20, the Berkshire spring council meeting will be held at the Hexagon Theatre in Reading. Our next gathering will be on Tuesday, March 17 and will be our annual meeting to be followed by a quiz. Meetings take place at Goring Heath parish hall on the third Tuesday of the month. Doors open at 10am. Visitors are welcome ? do come along and find out what we do. For more information, please call 0118 984 1696.


SHIRLEY BRYANT welcomed members and all our guests to our 71st birthday celebrations on February 18. Birthday buttonholes were presented to Jean Walker, Jean Taplin, Rose Spencer, Sylvia Parr and Jenny Gough. We were entertained by the folk group Pandemonium who kept us singing and foot-tapping and even had us doing a bit of Morris dancing (sitting down!). They really were superb. This was followed by a scrumptious tea, all low- calorie, thanks to Audrey and all her volunteers. The lunch group this month is at the Highwayman. We have skittles and lunch in Wallingford in March, which is always popular. The walking and table tennis groups are still very active. We meet on the third Wednesday of the month in the village hall. Please come and join us.


ON Wednesday, February 18 president Adrienne Rance welcomed 30 members and our guest speaker Sue Hourigan. Mrs Hourigan?s talk had the intriguing title of ?The good, the bad and the ugly?. She illustrated it with slides and by showing us samples of her work restoring old family photographs, papers and bibles. When she was 17, she became a window dresser for House of Fraser before going on to get a BA in fine art. Initially she enjoyed conservation work but by 1988 her passion was to become a paper conservator. It?s an amazing profession and it requires incredible skill to preserve or restore photos, paintings. artefacts and books. Paper constantly absorbs water and is affected by sunlight, not forgetting that there is a number of paper-eating bugs. When working on a 20th century watercolour, Mrs Hourigan found that woodlice had eaten into the frame. Silverfish and woodworm are also culprits. When restoring a silk screen print that is stuck to the glass, the only way to remove it safely is to use heat. A faded photo can be restored by removing it from the frame, taking a photo of it, then enhancing it on a computer and printing it on photographic paper. Mrs Hourigan passed around many samples of her work, including a photo of a Victorian family bible, which was so old that the spine binding had fallen off. To restore this she used new leather to bind the bible and then glued the old leather one on top. The result was amazing. Another of her projects was the restoration of a 900-year-old wax seal belonging to Eton College. Again her restoration work brought it back to life. Once she was given a photo of the crew of HMS Hawthorne, which had been encased in a plastic folder and damaged. Restoration included the introduction of humidity to make the plastic pliable, something which goes against all her training as humidity is one of a paper conservator?s nightmares. One of the questions put to the speaker concerned the Magna Carta. Mrs Hourigan explained that the 800-year-old document was well preserved because it was written on parchment made from dried sheepskin, which is far more durable than paper. It is now preserved in an aluminium encasement with an anti- reflective glass surface to ensure it is visible. Argon gas is introduced into the casement to avoid damage from oxidation. Timely advice for members to take care of all paper documents and photos included avoid damp, watch out for bug damage and carefully store to avoid costly restoration. The next gathering will be held at Crazies Hill village hall on Wednesday, March 18 at 2.30pm and will be our annual meeting. There will also be an entertaining ?Rance quiz?.

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