Friday, 18 June 2021

Around the WI



WE enjoyed a varied and enjoyable programme during 2015 and we were not disappointed with our last meeting of the year.

Jenni Matthews had come to entertain us with her musical evening of “Sing Along Showstoppers”.

I think we were all a little bemused and unsure of what was in store for us when Jenni asked us to stand and repeat various musical exercises with her.

Although a little sheepish at first, by the end of the evening we all seemed to be singing enthusiastically songs from The Sound of Music and Evita and it was agreed that it certainly had been an enjoyable evening, if a little different.

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

We are looking forward to our next meeting on January 20, when we will be holding a games evening. We would love you to join us. For more information, please call Lin on (01491) 836800.


ON Wednesday, December 8, president Adrienne Rance welcomed 36 members to the village hall, which had been beautifully decorated by the residents’ association.

The members then sat down to enjoy a Christmas lunch prepared by local caterer Nikki Alston and served by her young helpers.

Members enjoyed a delicious festive lunch, complete with a glass of wine and crackers, before being served coffee while they sat back and enjoyed listening to the Crazies Hill Primary School choir sing beautifully a selection of songs, traditional and new.

We learned that, once a week, the children give up their lunch playtime to rehearse singing under the guidance of Jo Shell.

The lovely cyclamen adorning each table were given to members holding the lucky raffle ticket numbers.

The next meeting will be held at Crazies Hill village hall on Wednesday, January 20 at 2.30pm. The speaker will be Mr P Hague, whose talk is entitled “West Wycombe Park and the  Dashwoods”.

Cockpole Green WI wishes you all a very happy New Year.


HOW festive Greys village hall looked for our Christmas meeting.

As if by magic, a Christmas tree, garlands of tinsel, holly, pretty table decorations, crackers and a tempting raffle greeted members, who were bearing tasty goodies for the feast.

President Val Mundy welcomed everyone and thanked them for their gifts of toiletries for emergency patients at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

This venture had been initiated by secretary Janet Leaver and arrangements were in hand to make up packs and present them, on behalf of Greys WI, to the hospital.

There was a number of apologies for absence due to illness but it was hoped everyone would be well by Christmas.

Treasurer Doreen Howells reminded us that the annual subscription of £37.50 would be due in January.

Some members produced really imaginative Christmas hats for our competition. Four of us had enjoyed a delicious WI Christmas celebration at Badgemore Park, where we were pleased to be joined by former Dunsden WI people.

Members were invited to join the coach party to see the pantomime Peter Pan at the Wycombe Swan in January.

Attention was drawn to The Helpful Book Company, which publishes useful books on computing.

Val introduced our speaker, storyteller Jaye Windmill, who walked among us as she wove her ghostly tales for Christmas: a retelling of A Christmas Carol; a story based on an incident on Christmas Day when her mother was a child; The Huntsman, a twist on a traditional fairytale; Come With Me, which had us quaking in our boots; and a story based loosely on Norse mythology.

Merryl Roberts thanked Jaye for reminding us of the magic of storytelling which we could all relate to.

We then set out to enjoy our party feast and Christmas quiz.

On Wednesday, January 20 we will hear about the Island Donkey Farm, which gives sanctuary to many maltreated animals. Join us, if you can, at 2.30pm and bring a donkey picture for our competition.


THE Christmas party in the village hall was voted the best ever.

A pantomime called Old Cold Cinders started the evening with a bang.

Eileen Collins was the star of the show as an ever so slightly ageing Cinderella still being plagued by her even uglier sisters, played by Liz Jarvis and Val Wood.

Maureen Cleary played the ageing prince and Jo Tilbury was the detective F G Mother.

The audience joined in with the hilarious chorus and the cast was loudly cheered off stage at the end.

President Margaret Spratley thanked the large audience for their support.

There was no business for the evening, except a rousing version of Jerusalem accompanied by Christine Wells on keyboards.

Mulled wine and canapés were served while the hall was set up for supper and then a delicious hot meal was served to the 55 members and friends, prepared by the committee.

The evening closed with carols with the choir and Christine leading the singing. It was a very enjoyable and fun evening.


MEMBERS arrived at the December meeting to find that the committee (and helpers) had decorated and laid the tables for a festive tea.

After a welcome to the visitors, speaker Tony King presented a travelogue, taking members on a journey “From Hollywood to Broadway by train with music”.

He began in the year 1869 by showing the Transcontinental Railway and its Pullman coaches and playing The Star- Spangled Banner, the American national anthem.

Hollywoodland was originally a quiet village with orchards and estate agents selling bungalows but when there was a fire the word “land” disappeared from the sign and thus it became  Hollywood.

Mr King mentioned many familiar names, including Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, Fred Karno’s Army and the footprints on the Boulevard of Mary Pickford, Humphrey Bogart, Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe.

In 1934 the Queen Mary first sailed from Los Angeles to Southampton. Painted grey during the Second World War, the old liner is now a tourist attraction in Palm Beach, California.

More music followed with I Left My Heart In San Francisco sung by Frank Sinatra and The Trolley Song sung by Judy Garland in Meet Me In St Louis.

So on we went through Reno and Sacramento to Salt Lake City, where in the late 1840s the Mormons were formed by Brigham Young followed by the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The travelogue showed Lookout Mountain in Denver with Buffalo Bill (William Cody) and Annie Oakley, the inspiration for the musical Annie Get Your Gun.

In 1887 Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show came to England and Queen Victoria paid a visit.

The journey continued on to Chicago, the “Windy City”, so called because of the many political windbags in the area, and thence to Cleveland, Pennsylvania, Lake Erie and New York.

The sights of Grand Central Station, Macy’s department store, Tiffany’s and the High Line, where a railway used to be, were so enchanting.

Mr King showed us Central Park, the John Lennon Memorial called Strawberry Fields, the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty.

Then it was on to the final stop on Broadway with the music of Richard Rogers, Leonard Bernstein and Irving Berlin.

President Pat Eades thanked Mr King for a professional showing of his journey.

Birthday greetings were given to Pippa George, Joan Bree and Patricia Williams.

The book club will meet on January 20. Shirley Weyman and Mary Burton were thanked for hosting and organising this group and were presented with gifts.

Members were reminded that subscriptions of £37.50 would be due in January.

The competition for a Christmas tree decoration was won by Patricia Williams, with Pam Hails and Judith Young second and third respectively.

The next meeting will be on January 13 when many games will be available to enjoy and there will be an opportunity to circulate and get to know fellow members.

Last January’s “Fun and Games” meeting was a very sociable affair, so here is an invitation to visitors to come along to Harpsden village hall at 2.30pm and join in the fun.

The competition will be for a Christmas card — funny, serious, sentimental or religious — all will be judged by the members themselves in the usual way of donating to the Associated Country Women of the World charity.

In closing the meeting, Pat Eades wished everyone a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.


A MOST enjoyable afternoon was had by all members and guests in the beautifully decorated hall with a Christmas tree in the window.

John Pumfrey and three of his friends started the festivies by entertaining us on their saxophones with renderings of Christmas carols with a touch of Gershwin and some rock ’n’ roll thrown in. We all sang along to some of our favourite carols and were treated to some wonderful descant voices — great fun.

Everyone contributed to the tea of assorted sandwiches, sausage rolls, cakes and mince pies, keeping some ladies in the kitchen very busy!

Seasonal flower arrangements provided by Shirley Hartley Booth added the final touch to all the tables.

Irene Lyndsay thanked everyone for their help during this special anniversary year and remembered absent friends. Our next meeting will take place at Peppard hall on January 13 at 2pm when Tony King will give a talk entitled “If Dickens had a camera”.


PRESIDENT Margaret Pyle welcomed members and visitors to our December meeting on a mild afternoon. She thanked Margaret Seal for the table flowers — a beautiful Christmas basket.

Margaret also announced that the record of the November meeting was available for anyone who wished to read it.

Secretary Mary Robinson reminded us that the form for the 2016 resolutions was in the latest issue of WI Life. The items being considered are (in no particular order): Ban the microbead; British fruit — reviving our heritage; Free sanitary protection for homeless women; Prevention of sudden cardiac death in young adults in the UK; First aid to save lives; Mind or body — equal funding for care; Avoid food waste, address food poverty.

The completed form will need to be handed in at the January meeting. Treasurer Doris Goddard announced that the 2016 subscription envelopes were available and she would be grateful to receive payment at the January meeting.

Doris also announced that 328 hospital toiletry packs had been sent to the Royal Berkshire Hospital in 2015 so far and it was hoped to reach 350 by the end of the year.

As it was December, all groups except for the Scrabble group had cancelled their meetings but hoped to resume meetings in January.

The afternoon then continued with a very enjoyable programme of “Yuletide tales” presented by Vera Hughes and David Weller, of Chester House Productions.

Finally, there was a very welcome cup of tea with some lovely Christmas fayre provided by members (mince pies, sausage rolls, cheese straws, shortbread and fancy cakes). This was followed by the raffle being drawn. The meeting closed with our president wishing us all a Merry Christmas.

We meet at St Barnabas’s Church Hall in Emmer Green on the first Wednesday of the month at 2pm and would be pleased to see any visitors.


OUR December party started with the president Sue Frayling-Cork welcoming 38 members and eight visitors as well as our entertainers for the evening, the Cat’s Chorus acapella choir.

Reports were kept to a minimum but, as usual, this was not very easy as we had so many activities and outings to tell our members about.

Gill Hayward gave a vote of thanks to Jane Handley for arranging our Christmas lunch at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Reading.

The dining room was decorated with a Parisian theme and we enjoyed a lovely lunch, followed by a raffle whose proceeds went to a local cause.

Mairwen West told us that she and Chris Phillips had attended Cleeve-by-Goring WI’s Christmas party.

They had received a very warm welcome and thoroughly enjoyed the evening with entertainment from Bonnie Dawn Roberts, who recited some excellent poems.

Alison Bishop reported on a visit that she and Gill Hayward had made to a Berkshire Federation science event at Grazeley.

Timothy Brownstone, a very knowledgeable and charismatic young man, informed us of how he took a new revolutionary fabric from design to market.

The fabric has been designed mainly for the use of remedial sports therapy and is known by the name of Kymira. Its secret ingredients include 10 minerals which interact and generate infra-red heat, which increases circulation. This then increases tissue oxygen levels which aids the growth of cells to repair injuries and, if worn during exercise, can prevent injuries too.

It is still early days for the product but Mr Brownstone has had much interest from the medical and sports therapy world and he has had some sales.

It was a very interesting evening and his presentation skills were excellent.

Alison Bishop gave her final report as chair of our fund-raising committee.

The December village coffee morning with a Christmas theme was hugely successful and a profit of £235 was made.

Jane Handley and Di Soden ran a festive sales table, which looked fantastic. Wendy Dean and Rose Prynn held a raffle which had some lovely prizes.

There were have-a-go craft tables for making a Christmas floral table decoration (Sue Hedges), present wrapping (Barbara Sadler and Gill Hayward) and paper gift box making (Beverley Porteous).

Greenshoots had a table selling produce and wreaths. Mince Pies, tea and coffee were provided by the excellent team in the kitchen, Anne Croxson, Jackie Cheffings and Sue Frayling-Cork, who were kept very busy all morning.

Donations from our fund-raising efforts for 2015 will be divided between the Village Gardeners, the Club SC youth club, Greenshoots and our local first responders. An excellent and fun morning was enjoyed by all who came and thanks were given to our members for their continued support.

Sue Frayling-Cork and Gill Hayward thanked Alison for her hard work.

Alison’s contribution to our fund-raising efforts has been exceptional.

She has worked so hard over the last four years and her enthusiasm and calm, friendly personality have been very much appreciated.

She will continue with her role on our main committee.

Last, but not least, Carole Williams thanked everyone who had been involved with the Bag a Bra campaign.

Members have so far collected more than 100 unwanted bras which will be sent to women in Africa who have set up a small business to supply local women with bras to improve their self-esteem and comfort.

Old bras are also welcome as they are taken apart and used for repairs and alterations.

Sue Frayling-Cork reminded members to read the latest WI Life pages with regard to 2016 resolutions and to complete the voting slip and return it to the Oxford Federation by February 1 at the very latest or bring it to our January meeting.

Our evening Christmas dinner will be held at the Shoulder of Mutton in Playhatch on January 12 and our next ordinary meeting on January 21 will include a fish and chip supper.

Reports over, we were now ready to party. The tables had been decorated with baubles and looked very festive.

Jackie Cheffings brought her collection of amusing musical Christmas animals and Father Christmases and one adorned each table, much to everyone’s delight!

Cat’s Chorus gave us a very varied selection of Christmas songs, old and new, from James Bond to Jingle Bells!

They asked members to join in if they wished and also to continue with our party food and drinks while they were singing as they like to see everyone enjoying themselves while listening.

The committee had provided the Christmas supper and played serving waitresses as their way of saying thank-you to the members for their support in 2015.

The choir joined us for our supper and thanks were given to them for their festive and very friendly performance.

The raffle was drawn and prizes given out. Guess the name of the reindeer was won by Anne Croxson who guessed correctly that his name was Bertie.

We then played pass the parcel. Gill Hayward had made two very large parcels and members hurriedly got themselves into two large circles.

The parcel passing commenced and at the first stop of the music wrappers were removed to reveal two very large bras which Jane Handley had adorned with tinsel, bells and tassles with instructions to put them on.

Very sportingly, Lyn Lloyd-Lewis and Barbara Asher obliged and stood in the middle of the circle to huge applause and laughter.

The parcels then started again on their journey round the circles and fun Christmas toys, hats, and forfeits were unveiled. It was lovely to see our members laughing loudly and having lots of fun.

All too soon the party came to an end and Sue Frayling-Cork thanked everyone for coming and joining in. She then wished them a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.


OUR December meeting had an air of magic about it.

A very talented and entertaining magician had us laughing from the word go with his engaging attitude, involving members in his card and ball tricks which we could not fathom.

We then had a grand buffet supper, full of taste and variety as we have come to expect from WI meetings.

With friends and husbands joining us and surprise little gifts for all, we spent a lovely evening in good company. We collected goods for charity as we always do and the hall and tables were splendidly decorated. Many members had put in extra time to make it just right. A large group had spent the same day at a workshop, making tree decorations for their homes.

Later that same week we had a nice walk around Checkendon, followed by a tea hosted by a member which provided another very sociable afternoon.

Our new year starts with an interesting talk from a local bookstore owner and we will have many more interesting speakers throughout 2016 plus our craft, book, swimming and walking groups who all meet on extra days when it suits them.

January is a good time to join as our subs are due and we look forward to another varied year ahead.


MEMBERS celebrated Christmas early with a festive lunch at a local hotel with good food and excellent company. Three members won the raffle prizes but they did not forget some of those who are less fortunate as they also collected festive foods, toiletries and new clothing for the Reading Women’s Refuges, which house women and their children in need throughout the year.

Our next meeting will be on January 19 when we will be getting moving after the Christmas festivities with a session of tai chi under the direction of Karen Pounds.

Our programme of talks for 2016/17 will include “English courtrooms”, “The history of Reading Abbey” and “A passion for pearls”.

There will be a variety of other subjects, including hedgehogs and how we can help them to survive, as well as outings and a demonstration of baking skills where we look forward to a tasting session too!

Meetings take place at Goring Heath parish hall, opposite St John’s Church on the B471, on the third Tuesday of the month at 10am.

We have a variety of activities, so come along and find out what we do. For more information, please call 0118 984 1696.


WE held our Christmas meeting on December 16, a very mild winter’s day.

Shirley Bryant welcomed the members and our visitor Pat Laver and wished everyone a Happy Christmas.

The hall looked lovely with festive table decorations and candles aglow. There was a basket of presents and a sherry or two to put us in the festive mood! A birthday buttonhole was presented to Joan Snook and a plant to Audrey Hawthorne for all her work in organising the monthly lunch club.

Our speaker was Dave Self who told us about “The history of jazz”.

This was followed by tea made by the committee and then it was secret Santa! The competition for a handmade Christmas card was won by Dot Tyler.

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

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