Thursday, 19 May 2022

WI Roundup

WI Roundup


AS the nights draw in, it was lovely to see the majority of our members present at the October meeting.

Reports were received from those who had attended various events, including the Oxfordshire Federation’s arts and crafts exhibition in Didcot, a falls prevention workshop in Benson and a speakers selection day in Eynsham.

Some members had enjoyed a performance of Grease in Oxford and were looking forward to a streaming of the Downton Abbey film.

We received a talk from Graham Kirby about his family’s collection of more than 460 miniature hats.

These were bought mainly for his late mother as gifts from junk shops and fairs or as holiday souvenirs.

There were hats made from Irish bog wood, Delph, coal and metal and they came in various shapes and sizes.

Graham’s delivery made the evening very enjoyable and he and his wife, Glen, were warmly thanked with tea and cake during our break for refreshments.

On the following evening, six members attended a very sociable group meeting hosted by Clifton Hampden WI.

The speaker was Caroline Collins, who talked about her work with Samsung involving the creation of the language used by talking robots.

The presidents of other WIs gave a brief update of their activities and members were able to socialise over a lovely supper.

For our meeting on 20th November, we will be welcoming Rachel Pettit-Smith to talk about Pettits of Wallingford, one of the town’s oldest businesses in Wallingford, started in 1856.

Also in November, the Oxfordshire Federation will be using our Benson parish hall for its “Caribbean and Windrush generation” Day with members of the African, Caribbean and Cultural Heritage Initiative (tickets are available from the WI’s Tackley office).

If you would like to visit our WI, please call (01491) 838584 or email


FOR our October meeting, we were particularly excited to be able to work with willow in a craft evening.

We welcomed an experienced crafter who brought along materials for us each to make a festive willow star with clear instructions.

Everyone succeeded in making a beautiful piece and a competition for the best handiwork was held at the end of the evening.

At our November meeting we will have a talk by a local upcycling entrepreneur about how she creates beautiful and useful things from old and discarded materials.

Ladies are very welcome to visit our friendly group; your first three visits are free.

We meet at Church House in Church Road, Caversham, on the third Thursday of the month at 7.30pm, which helps avoid childcare issues.

There is parking nearby and a lift to the first floor meeting room.

For more information, call secretary Romayne Flight on 0118 947 5176, search online for “Caversham WI” or visit


TEACHER Angela Buckley was researching her family tree when she discovered that one of her relatives ran a brothel in the slums of Manchester.

The discovery that she had shady ancestors launched her on a new career path, studying social history from the particular perspective of crime.

Angela, who lives in Caversham, is now a published author with five historical true crime stories to her name and is currently studying for a PhD in forensic history at Oxford Brookes University.

So she was just the person to talk to us about the history of Reading jail in the very week the Victorian local landmark went up for sale.

And a grim old place it was at first, too. Inmates were kept in almost total isolation and even made to wear caps with slits so they couldn’t see their fellow prisoners on the rare occasions they left their cells.

There was hard labour, with only gruel to eat and only hammocks to sleep in … yet when it was built in 1844 Reading gaol was at the cutting edge of the new Victorian penal system and built in the same style as Pentonville prison in London, with a central hub for the guards and the cells arranged around it like spokes on a wheel.

The highlight for the local Reading residents, however, was the periodic public executions: the first in 1845 drew a crowd of 10,000, many of whom took picnics.

Though the hangings eventually moved inside after campaigners, including Charles Dickens, got the public spectacles banned, there were several death sentences dished out, most of them on dodgy evidence.

Angela told us the stories of five murderers who all made headlines locally, such as Amelia Dyer, who was a baby “farmer” in Caversham, offering to take in unwanted babies only to end up drowning them in the Thames.

There was the young husband who killed his older wife just months into their marriage, the poachers who murdered two policemen, the man who cut his wife’s throat and whose execution was written about by Oscar Wilde in The Ballad of Reading Gaol, and the father who poisoned his two sons with arsenic.

Each was ceremonially “launched into eternity” as the gallows humour of the time had it.

Angela is just the latest fascinating speaker to come to see us at Chazey. Care to join us? To find out what else we’re up to, email us at or visit us on Facebook.


AFTER our break from meetings in August, we resumed in September with reports on our activities during the previous month.

The main events were the two afternoon “tea and cakes” charity fundraising days held at Goring lock.

At the first event we were accompanied by the Goring and Streatley Concert Band, which always makes a very pleasant afternoon for residents and visitors.

At the second tea we were on our own but still managed to raise a good amount.

The two afternoons raised almost £1,000, which was distributed proportionately to the Goring and Streatley Band, Swan Support, Goring village hall, Going Forward Buses and the Goring and Woodcote medical practice medical fund.

A social evening with a demonstration and talk about cheese by the Pangbourne Cheese Shop was enjoyed by members.

At the September meeting our speaker was Lucienne de Launay, a potter from Crowmarsh, who gave us a very interesting talk on her life with “potting” and we were able to purchase some of her attractive items.

The October meeting was entertained by Chris Caddy with an excellent talk on the Lake District, including explanations of the various areas and their geology.

He showed us a fine variety of coloured photographs, some of which were set to music.

Our November meeting will feature a creative craft workshop led by our president Chris Cox and member Margaret King.


ON Wednesday, October 16, president Diane Bush welcomed members, guest Marilyn Dudley and speakers Joe and Joy Haynes, whose talk was entitled “The history of Wargrave Theatre Workshop”.

Joy talked about Lord Barrymore, an English nobleman of Ireland, who was an infamous gambler, sportsman and theatrical enthusiast.

He even had an underground tunnel built from Barrymore House to the theatre for his rumoured assignations with women.

This colourful character was profligate and declared bankrupt. His theatre, which cost £60,000 to build, was seized by his creditors but demolished in 1792.

Barrymore joined the Berkshire militia but accidently discharged his gun while escorting some French prisoners and died.

He is buried at St Mary’s Church in Wargrave.

Following a highly successful old time music hall produced by Miriam Moore in 1974, the Wargrave Theatre Workshop was launched in 1975 by Miriam Moore with Hilda Freeman as secretary. Joe and Joy illustrated their talk with photos of past productions and programmes from the earliest productions to the present day as well as telling amusing anecdotes.

There was a lot of interaction from members as many had been involved. President Diane Bush took to the stage at the Woodclyffe Hall in 1976 to act in Hay Fever. Secretary Maureen Bunn’s husband also took to the stage.

Blocks were used to extend the stage for some 20 years but in 1997 Ann Roberts successfully applied to the National Lottery for funding to replace the blocks with a two-drawer system, which was much easier to set up.

In 1975 Oliver! was produced for the Wargrave Festival. Our president’s husband, Dick, played Mr Bumble.

The first pantomime, Babes in the Wood, has been followed by 43 annual pantomimes which are still very popular and sell out quickly each year.

Mike and Leo White wrote the scripts for several plays, often deviating from the traditional pantomime story to include village characters and politics, which had the audience laughing even more.

From the early days children have been encouraged to be part of WTW with many junior and youth productions taking place.

Regretfully, these are presently suspended as a new leader is being sought for the weekly meetings.

In September 1991 a junior workshop was formed.

The youngsters enjoy taking part in pantomimes and also helping the “grown-ups” during the eight to 10 weeks of rehearsals.

WTW is a thriving theatre, producing drama, musicals, pantomimes and, of course, the Wargrave Festival open air performance of Shakespeare plays.

Behind the scenes are many talented people, like Maureen Fennemore and Judi Rowlands, who help and often make amazing costumes.

David Williams was in charge of the lighting while his wife Sheila and friends helped with set designs, building and painting.

Alan Fear was the sound man. Credit also goes to the make-up artists and to those sourcing suitable props for unusual scenes — the list is long.

Not forgetting the many producers and directors, who finally put everything together during the last rehearsals.

High street businesses Gemsa and Simmons and Lawrence used to help by selling tickets. Nowadays, purchase is made online.

After the talk, members enjoyed a delicious tea served by Ruth-Mary Vaughan and Sheila Williams before mingling with Jo and Joy and looking at some of the handmade costumes on display and the programme leaflets dating back many years and costing a few pence!

The next meeting will be held at Crazies Hill village hall on Wednesday, November 20 at 2.30pm when the guest speaker will be local sculptor Martin Lorenz. All are welcome.


THE October meeting was held, as usual, at Greys Green village hall in its beautiful location opposite the cricket green.

The meeting was chaired by our president Val Mundy with Janet Leaver taking the minutes.

A total of 16 members and three guests from Henley-on-Thames WI were present on a sunny afternoon.

The business aspect of the meeting was covered swiftly and effectively.

The afternoon was advertised as “paper Christmas decorations” and we arrived to find tables and chairs set out rather than our usual rows of chairs.

It soon became clear that we were going to be involved in a very hands-on meeting led by Barbara Hately.

Scissors, glue, paperclips and sheets of paper were all necessary and beautiful examples of Barbara’s work were hung up at the front of the hall.

She explained we were all going to go home with a snowflake and I am sure I am not the only one who felt that was quite unlikely as they looked very complicated and delicate to make.

Via a clear slide show, practical demonstration and support from Barbara, we came to grips with the folding, cutting and glueing of our sheets of paper.

Equipment was shared, help was provided and slowly, large, beautiful snowflakes emerged. The sense of achievement was palpable.

As a bonus, we were then shown how to make a self- supporting Christmas tree with an old paperback.

Once decorated with bead strings, they looked very effective.

Val thanked Barbara for her demonstration.

Afternoon tea was wonderful and included cheese scones, chocolate and pear cake, meringues, an enormous sponge cake and a coffee cake.

The food was fallen on with enthusiasm after all our hard work. It was difficult to restrict the amount on the plate with all on offer.

Our thanks and gratitude go to our committee who provided this spread.

The competition was for a Christmas limerick and was won by Merryl with the following:

The ladies of Greys WI
Decided to learn how to fly.
After 100 years,
They conquered their fears
And soared like a star in the sky.

The people of Rotherfield Greys
Gazed up in the night all amazed,
A star they cried out,
It’s Christmas, no doubt,
A gift from our ladies of Greys.

Second and third places went to Jennifer and Ina respectively.

Our meeting in November will include a talk on the Sonning Common First Responders and the work they do in the local area.

We will also be running a stall selling accessories (bags, beads, scarves etc.) to raise funds for our centenary celebrations next year.

The meeting will be held at Greys Green village hall on November 20 at 2.30pm. Visitors are more than welcome to attend and we look forward to seeing you.


AT our October meeting we welcomed 29 members.

Our speaker was Tony Weston who gave a talk called “Surviving wedding photography”.

He gave us an insight into what it is like being on the other side of the lens while considering all the fine details that make beautifully captured memories of “the big day”.

We have a busy schedule of events.

We had a workshop of short stories on October 16 at Parmoor.

The Hambleden Hikers were to meet yesterday (Thursday, October 31) for a walk from the Dew Drop Inn near Hurley followed by lunch there.

A visit to the law courts in London has been organised for November and we will begin our Christmas celebrations with a visit to Greys Court followed by afternoon tea.

Our November gathering will be our annual meeting when nominations for our committee will be made and voted on.

Our thanks to Nikki Mainds, Jenny North and Pat Sharp for the delicious refreshments. To see our programme, please visit


SHIRLEY WEYMAN opened the October meeting and welcomed a good number of members.

She spoke about a climate change workshop which is to be held at Goring village hall on Thursday, January 9 at 7.30pm. Cost £5.

News & Views brought forth information on a craft competition to be completed by November 29, so time is short. It is for a scarf which can be made of fabric, felt, crochet or knitted (any shape and size).

The Oxfordshire Federation wishes to celebrate, commemorate and honour the “Windrush Generation”.

At Benson parish hall on November 27 there will be the opportunity to sample authentic Caribbean food, listen to a performance by Amantha Edmead and hear two other speakers. It all starts at 9.30am and the cost is £20.

Our book club will meet on November 20 at 23a Blandy Road and the discussion group on the previous day at 33 Blandy Road.

Shirley put out a plea for committee members for next year. If at the January meeting there are not enough members willing to serve on the committee, then procedures have to be put in place to close the WI. This cannot be allowed to happen to a WI that has been going for more than 75 years.

The speaker for the afternoon was Corry Starling, the Miller of Mapledurham.

The Mapledurham Estate dates back to 1492 and has been in the same Catholic family since then.

It consists of 2,500 acres with a dairy herd of 1,000, the milk being sold to Marks & Spencer.

Mapledurham House, a Grade I listed building, was very rundown in the Fifties but funds were found to be able to re-open it to the public in 1967. At the moment it is closed for more renovation work but Lady Anne Eyston and her family hope it will not be too long before it is open again.

Much-needed income has come from TV companies and other outlets wishing to use the very pleasant grounds

The watermill on the estate is the last working mill on the River Thames and was mentioned in the Domesday Book.

Corry showed pictures of the workings of the millstones.

In 2014 a new wheel was installed. The installation of an Archimedes screw was completed and, with the new turbine, electricity is now sold to the National Grid.

There is a very well stocked shop on the estate, run by Corry’s wife, selling her homemade scones among many other items. Of course, the scones are made with the flour milled by Corry.

In the spring, guided tours of the house and the mill will be available with the opportunity to finish the tour with a cream tea.

Corry was an excellent speaker and Judith Young thanked him for such an interesting and informative talk.

The competition was for “an old cooking utensil” and Jasmine Weaver and Judith tied for first place.

Next month’s meeting on November 13 will take the form of a lunch at the Christ Church Centre, commencing at 12.30pm.

The December 11 meeting will be back at Harpsden village hall when Mike Brook will be providing the entertainment in the form of “A Christmas miscellany” and the competition will be for a Christmas cake decoration.

Do come along as a visitor and join in the fun.


OUR October meeting was a smaller group and for the first time we popped the hall heating on.

After Katie, our president, had talked through any business we were very pleased to welcome Cherie who had come along to teach us belly dancing, an ideal way to warm up and add a bit of sparkle to a dark autumn evening.

After a few wrong twists and turns but lots of laughter, Cherie managed to have us all swirling, swaying and shimmying around the room doing a fabulous routine.

We had a lovely evening topped off with the usual glass of wine, piece of cake and a catch-up with the girls.

If you want to hire Cherie for an event or go to one of her local classes, visit

Give it a go — she really is brilliant.

The next meeting will be on Friday, November 15 when we will be trying our hand at making Christmas decorations. We meet at the Sacred Heart Church hall in Walton Avenue, just off Vicarage Road, Henley. Please come along and join us. For more information, email


ON the evening of October 2, we welcomed Toby Hampton to talk about the wonderful and varied world of British cheese.

This was a celebration evening honouring founder member Sheila Carruthers, whose daughter Anne Marie kindly came along with a guest to help.

Toby owns and runs a public relations agency specialising in promoting artisan food and wine. It represents the UK’s oldest cheesemonger in London’s Jermyn Street and the British Cheese awards.

Toby is also a judge at cheese and fine food

Members were given the history of how cheese came to exist, a step-by-step guide to how cheese is made and a guided tasting of four British cheeses.

It is thought cheese originated in Greece and was developed by the Persians.

Cheese came to Britain in Roman times and one of the oldest cheeses in the country is Cheshire, which was mentioned in the Domesday Book.

The tasting featured four artisan, award-winning cheeses:

• A soft goats’ cheese from Gloucestershire called Cerney

• A Montgomery Cheddar from Somerset

• A washed rind cheese from Oxfordshire called Rollright

• A classic Stilton from Cromwell Bishop.

The tasting was accompanied by a white wine from the Bourgogne and a Cotes de Rhône. Advice was given on presenting a well-balanced cheese board and members were advised of several local cheesemakers, Village Maid Cheese in Reading, the Nettlebed Creamery and Norton and Yarrow at Shillingford.

Our Christmas dinner will be held at the Sansom Room on December 4 at 7.30pm. Members are asked to bring along a Christmas present.

There will be no meeting in January but we look forward to seeing members again on February 5 for our annual meeting.


AFTER a summer of special centenary celebrations, Peppard W I returned to the war memorial hall for a normal October meeting.

A number of members sent their apologies due to holidays or ill health.

Ruth Whitaker sent her thanks to all those members who had contacted her, sent cards or visited her during her recent illness. She was pleased to report that she is now feeling much better.

We welcomed back Tony King who has entertained us at least twice before.

This month he led us through the Sixties. He reminded us of some of the highlights, such as man on the moon, England winning the World Cup, Freddie Laker flights leading to more holidays abroad and television in the home, to mention just a few.

Tony summed up the decade with the word “freedom”.

He ended his presentation with a run through of the Top 10 and members were seen practising their armchair versions of the twist.

Jeni Wood gave the vote of thanks and led us in three rousing cheers for Tony and the Sixties.

Plans were made for the forthcoming Beechwood Group meeting to be held at Peppard later in the month.

The book club was to meet at Shirley’s home and “brew and banter” will meet at Audrey’s home on November 7.

Plans were also made for our Christmas lunch at the Cherry Tree in Stoke Row.

Our recent grand raffle has resulted in us being able to present Peppard War Memorial Hall, our home since 1922, with a gift to commemorate our centenary and we discussed ideas of what that should be.

After some further deliberations we hope to present it to the hall trustees at our Christmas party.

Buddy group 5 provided a delicious tea and buddy group 4 the raffle prizes.

Irene won the flower of the month competition and Beth’s entry won the “unusual antique” competition. This will be entered in the competition at the group meeting.


IN the absence of our president, our vice-president Judy Palmer took the meeting.

She welcomed the 15 members present. There were apologies.

Sadly, Shirley Behan has had a stroke and is in Abingdon Hospital. A card was sent from us all.

Judy then went through the notices as follows:

November 2 — W I House at Mortimer is having an open morning. All welcome.

November 11 — Our “pot pourri” Christmas fundraising event at the village hall at 2.30pm. There will be a Christmas bring and buy table, delicious teas and entertainment by Joan Hill. All are welcome. Tickets cost £5 each.

December 5 — The Berkshire Federation is to hold a centenary church service at Mortimer at 11am. Two members from each WI will attend.

December 16 — Our Christmas lunch.

There are competitions, one for a celebration card and the other for a card for the Queen’s 94th birthday, with gold embroidery. Entry forms are available from our secretary.

The National Federation is working on the issues voted for at the annual meeting in June, firstly “Local bus services” and secondly, “Abuse against women”.

When our treasurer Ann Francis and her husband Peter were holidaying on the Isle of Man, they took a tricycle ride on the TT course. They reached speeds of up to 90mph.

All this featured in Berkshire News.

Judy then introduced Belinda Fitzwilliams to give her talk on “All angles of Henley Royal Regatta” to include stories and art.

She started with a slide show of her photographs put together by Pat Sly’s daughter Prue.

Belinda was the adopted daughter of Eirene and Eustace, who had the cottage on Rod Eyot which floods every year, so Belinda was always boating everywhere.

They would not allow her to go to art college, so she did a sports teacher training course instead.

Belinda’s adopted mother was rather like Hyacinth Bucket from Keeping Up Appearances — all must be over the top.

They moved often around the area from Hop Gardens to Peppard and Marsh Lock House.

Belinda always intended to marry a rowing man and she married Hugh Fitzwilliams at St Mary’s Church with the reception at Leander Club. The couple have three children.

Belinda worked for 25 years, mainly teaching art.

She adored all the regatta parties, loving the fashions, colourful blazers, Pimm’s and beautiful flowers, notforgetting the scouts in their suits and bowler hats, checking on the length of skirts and nowadays mobile phones.

Belinda was heartily thanked for speaking about her experiences and reminding many of us of the wonderful regatta parties we had enjoyed over the years.

We then appreciated her marvellous sketches of people at the regatta, even under umbrellas. Belinda is a master of her craft.

Daphne won the craft competition and Carol the raffle.

We had an excellent tea provided by Carol and her team of Jen, June and Ann.

Our next meeting is our Christmas do at the village hall on Monday, November 11 at 2.30pm. Everyone is very welcome.


HERE we are into October already and looking forward to our Harvest lunch.

Arlene, our president, welcomed everyone and said that a copy of the minutes of the September meeting were available for all to see.

We were reminded that the Berkshire Federation open morning will be held at WI House in Mortimer on on November 2. There will be a chance to see the Berkshire scarecrow that is being entered in the Mortimer scarecrow trail.

We were also reminded of the open mic event which is to take place at Christ Church hall in Woodley on November 22 at 2.30pm. This will be an afternoon of entertainment with WI members being both the performers and audience. Anyone interested should apply by November 8

Judith, our teasurer, then advised that the sales table last month raised £15.85 and the raffle £30.

Birthday cards were handed to all members celebrating in October.

The dates for the various groups were then given out with the Srabble group meeting twice and the book club once. The cinema group planned to see Judy and the lunch club met at the Moderation in Caversham.

We were then advised that the Christmas lunch will be on Wednesday, December 18 at Ask. A board was being circulated with the menu and a £5 deposit was required.

An invitation was offered to two members to attend Sonning Glebe WI’s birthday meeting on October 21.

It was also announced that new committee members would be required next year.

We were then reminded that the subscription for 2020 would be £43 and this would be collected at the February meeting as there is no meeting in January.

Then it was to the best bit of the day, the lovely Harvest lunch consisting of all the usual goodies.

There was quiche, pork pie, various dips, a selection of cheeses, chutneys, salad and French stick and butter followed by a wonderful array of puddings.

Thanks to all the committee members and other helpers who managed to make this a very successful occasion, not only providing the food but also putting up tables and sorting everything out. Well done.

After the lovely meal we were entertained by Simon Williams whose topic was “Is it fun to be fooled?”.

He is a magician and kept us all amused with his tales and magic, even involving several members. Thank you, Simon, please come again.

Finally, there was the usual cup of tea before the raffle was called. This was an excellent afternoon which was enjoyed by all present.

We meet at St Barnabas Church hall in Emmer Green on the first Wednesday of the month at 2pm.


PRESIDENT Joan Jolley welcomed members to the October meeting.

There was one lovely new member, further increasing the Oxfordshire Federation’s centenary member challenge.

Joan then went through the business. Everyone agreed that the Federation’s centenary art and craft exhibition had been a run-away success.

The standard of members’ work was amazing and the whole set-up of the exhibition was first rate. All our entries did us proud too.

We will be laying our Remembrance wreath at Shiplake war memorial on on November 10.

Sue Lines gave details of future outings, including Winchester Christmas market and two musicals, The Lion King and Nine to Five.

She was booking a visit to Highclere Castle (of Downton Abbey fame), probably in April 2021.

There were lots of interesting articles and photographs in News & Views and there are lots of events lined up for the festive season, including Christmas extravaganzas, a Dickensian food outing to London and a Christmas decorations workshop.

Our speaker this month was Michelle Stanforth, a tutor of Makaton, or hand signing.

This is a language programme that uses symbols, signs and speech, enabling communication.

It is especially beneficial to those with learning problems. It aids social skills and ends frustrations arising from the inability to connect with people. We were shown how difficult it is to communicate without speech and taught a few easy signs. Michelle had given us us an enjoyable and thought- provoking talk. A lovely tea was hosted by Banba Dawson and Shirley Cooke.

The competition for “a glove” was won by Rachel Lloyd with an elbow-length, midnight blue sequined creation. (She had no idea of when or where she wore it.)

The flower of the month competition was won by Pauline Watkins with a lovely yellow begonia.


PRESIDENT Jenny Ward gave a warm welcome to the October meeting to 51 members and our speaker, Emma Hamer, of the National Farmers’ Union.

Members with birthdays in October received happy birthday wishes.

Jo Denslow reported that the team which entered the Sonning Common library quiz had a very enjoyable evening.

The Oxfordshire Federation’s art and craft exhibition held at Didcot civic hall on September 21 included a fantastic collection of craft exhibits from around Oxfordshire.

A fine crochet mat and a bobbin lace bookmark were displayed by Sonning Common member Pat Kitt and Beverley Porteous exhibited three paintings.

A team of four Sonning Common members entered the contemporary competition. Marion Bayliss made a spectacle case, Beverley Porteous made a greetings card with an embroidery of a fritillary, Lesley Davis took a black and white photograph of a very modern building in London and Sue Hedges made a flower arrangement.

The judges set high standards and the team was delighted to be awarded 84 points out of 100.

Members of the craft group have been busy making beaded stars to hang on their Christmas trees. Poppies have ben knitted ready for Remembrance Day.

The Scrabble group and the darts group both met.

Eight members went to the Beechwood group meeting hosted by Peppard WI.

There wass much laughter and discussion identifying the various antique objects that Richard Anderson had bought to the meeting.

Christine Marsh won the competition with a beautiful illustrated old book.

A delicious tea was enjoyed.

There was an interesting game based on old WI resolutions and the members found it sad and surprising that the resolutions were still somewhat relevant today.

Plans were made to decorate the village hall for Christmas and to help at a local school’s Christmas fair.

Alison introduced Emma , whose talk was entitled “Great farmers, great food”.

Emma is senior plant health advisor for the NFU. She has a small farm near Banbury with beef cattle and arable crops.

Pollinators are a farmers’ friend and Emma is proud of the marsh orchids, cowslips and other wildflowers growing on her farm.

She said the Red Tractor label was an assurance that the food stuff had been produced to a certain standard with good animal welfare.

Customers can buy with confidence, safe in the knowledge that no pigs were kept in sow crates.

Emma explained that chickens kept indoors with enough space and well ventilated conditions have a longer life expectancy than chickens kept outside.

Farmers do not want food waste in their fields. If no pesticides are used, up to 75 per cent of crop production may be lost.

The NFU has 55,000 members. As farmers do not have time to lobby MPs, the NFU can do this on their behalf.

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution is a welfare charity which helps farming people in need.

At the end of her talk Emma answered questions on the culling of badgers, goat meat and possible future labour shortages.

Marion Bayliss gave a warm vote of thanks and pointed out that wildflowers for next year’s pollinators had been sown by local farmers in their fields.

Emma kindly judged our light-hearted competition for vegetable animals. Diane Soden won with her red cabbage and beetroot beastie.

On November 6 Sonning Common WI will be hosting a coffee morning at the village hall from 10.30am to noon.

Our next meeting will be held at Sonning Common village hall on November 21 at 7.30pm when we will hear from Louise Kelly, the Oxfordshire Federation’s digital team leader, about “Let’s get digital”. Visitors are welcome.


WE met in the village hall on October 8.

This was an open meeting and we invited visitors to join us as we felt the subject of the talk, “Fracking — friend or foe?” would be of interest to people.

Four people took up this offer — three husbands of members and a lady friend of another. The speaker was Professor Chris Rhodes who gave a very interesting and informative talk on the subject and there was some lively discussion.

In his opinion, fracking is not an option in the UK as we don’t have the wide non-urban space that countries like America have.

We celebrated four birthdays this month and finished the afternoon with a raffle and a delicious tea provided by Frances Ayers, Jenny Mansfield and Jean Dixon.

South Stoke WI hosted the autumn group meeting when the speaker was John Stirling on the subject of “From Noddy to Buckingham Palace”. A number of us were going to hear Dame Stella Rimington at Oxford town hall.

Our next meeting will be on November 12 when our speaker Peter Holman will be talking about “The Thames from Oxford to Windsor”. Visitors are very welcome.


WHAT a great time we had at our latest meeting, where members and husbands thoroughly enjoyed a barn dance.

As the band Pandemonium called and played, we were all on our feet, careering round the village hall and laughing.

With only a couple of breaks, we kept going for an hour-and-a-half in circles, long sets and square sets. We were ready for our lovely supper afterwards.

Dates were given out for our craft, book, swimming, walking and dinners out groups.

The next walk was to be in October with a Halloween-themed tea and optional fancy dress.

Fifteen of us went to the Crooked Billet for a cookery demonstration and lunch.

Eight members enjoyed the group meeting in Peppard where we met other WI friends while we listened to a speaker who ran an antiques quiz, which was good fun.

A lovely afternoon tea was served and we had time to chat with friends.

Our next meeting will be a quieter one with a talk on Ethiopia by a local reverend and then we will be into our Christmas festivities.


DID you know that you should look where your feet are pointing and how you hold your arms when listening to someone?

You should because it tells the other person whether you are bored with what they are saying.

Bayley Eyley, our speaker in October, told us vivaciously about “Voice and body language”. She showed us how a simple handshake can turn into a power play (just watch the news to see this being played out) and how to deal with men in the boardroom.

From actors to politicians, it seems everyone is trying to be in charge.

November 13 is a craft evening, where we will be shown how to make Christmas cards.

December 11 is our sing-a-long Christmas celebration.

On January 8 we will have a talk by Dee Robinson called “Solo with a camera”.

We meet at Watlington town hall at 7.30pm and would be delighted to meet you.

Perhaps you have some ideas that you would like to share with us? If so, please call Dawn Matthews on (01491) 612023.


OUR WI is thriving thanks to the varied programme of activities and speakers each year and this year is no exception.

The October meeting was both informative and entertaining — what more could one ask?

The informal but short part of the meeting summarised recent events and outlined those to come.

This included an amusing but important report on the group’s visit to the food recycling centre at Benson, our progress and goals for collecting food for the Wallingford food bank and details of the Christmas and early New Year social events for members to sign up to.

Birthday greetings and flowers were given to two members. The two raffle prizes were won by Eileen Busby and Jenny Plumb. Tricia Clapp won the flower of the month competition.

Our guest speaker entertained us with her talk on “Rescue dogs and dragons — my inspiration to write”.

The title did not disappoint. Debi Evans regaled us with stories of her rescue dog Rolo and how his antics, and her own imagination, have resulted in four (soon to be five) books for primary school aged children (and their parents).

We all left with smiles on our faces and books purchased from this most entertaining of speakers.

There was also a second hand book sale in aid of Denman College.

In the first week of November, members will visit the Hillier Garden Centre for lunch and Christmas shopping.

Later in the month we will welcome back Jeff Rozelaar to speak on “Homeward bound” — informative and entertaining anecdotes from a number of railway stations in the UK.

In early December we will have a Christmas flower workshop.

Our Christmas lunch is booked for December 17.

Our meetings take place at Goring Heath parish hall, opposite St John’s Church on the B471, on the third Tuesday of most months, starting at 10.15am (doors open 10am).

We also have a social or craft morning — usually on the first Tuesday.

Do come along and see what we do. For more information, please call 0118 984 2162.


PATRICIA SOLOMONS welcomed members to our Harvest bring and share.

The tables looked lovely with the autumnal flower decorations.

The food was amazing with such a wonderful variety and so many good cooks among us.

This was followed by a quiz for which thank-you to Ann Larden.

Margaret Carter had brought along the scrapbooks from the last 75 years.

Among those celebrating birthdays were Edna Smith, Gill Woods, Patricia Jessup, Barbara George, Connie Vickery and Sally Lambert. We hope they had a happy birthday, especially those celebrating a special one.

The lunch club will be going to the Red Lion at Woodcote in November.

Chance to chat takes place on the first Thursday of the month in the community coffee shop where the world can be put to right — if only.

We also have a table tennis group that meets on a Tuesday, which is good fun if we could only always remember the score.

We will be going to Caversham Heath Golf Club for our Christmas lunch.

We will be entertained at our Christmas meeting by Mike Brook, who will bring us a Christmas miscellany.

We meet at Woodcote village hall on the third Wednesday of the month at 2.30pm. New members are very welcome.

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