Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Around the Women's Institutes

Around the Women's Institutes


ON Wednesday, December 8, vice-president Maureen Rothery 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 playing on their chimes and then beautifully singing a selection of songs traditional and new.

They also sang one carol as a canon (round), which we found amazing.

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

To the members’ delight, the eight- to 11-year-olds then mingled with us, chatting away with big smiles. They were obviously delighted to share our Christmas festivities.

After the children had returned to school, Richard Lloyd took up the baton and proceeded to play popular Christmas carols on the piano.

The request for The Holly and the Ivy had us all laughing as, unlike the children, we could not reach all the high notes!

A free raffle took place and the lucky winners took home lovely red cyclamen plants, which adorned their table.

Thanks were given to Nikki for the superb lunch, to Mr Lloyd and to the committee for organising everything else to make it a most enjoyable afternoon.

The next meeting will take place at Crazies Hill village hall on Wednesday, January 18 at 2.30pm.

Our guest speaker will be a local, Peter Mayes, who will talk about the Mughal Gardens of India.

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


DECEMBER is a busy month for everyone and Hambleden WI is no exception.

We began the month by sponsoring a Christmas tree in aid of Hambleden village hall. A big thank-you to Maureen Cleary who organised this.

The tree was featured in the village hall festival and remained in situ for our Christmas party.

On December 7 many of us enjoyed a superb visit to Blenheim Palace.

We were delighted by a fascinating guided tour of the palace, followed by a lovely lunch in the India room and an hour or so for a walk around the grounds or some Christmas shopping in the well-stocked gift shop.

Many thanks to Helen Grubb and Jo Martin for such a well-organised and thoroughly enjoyable day out.

Our Christmas party was held in Hambleden village hall on the evening of December 8.

We were entertained by the Launton handbell ringers before a grand feast of food supplied by all members.

We also enjoyed some poetry, written and read by members of our drama group.

The evening was rounded off with a raffle and some carol singing, accompanied by Christine Wells on keyboards. Our next meeting will be held in the village hall on Thursday, January 12 at 7.30pm.

Our 2017 programme will begin with a talk by Karen Stuart called “Lasting power of attorney and lasting power of attorney for health and welfare — how to do it yourself”.

To see our programme for next year, please visit our website, www.hambleden-wi.org

A happy New Year from us all at Hambleden WI.


THE December meeting got off to a lively start with the rousing theme from Kiss Me, Kate, Another Opening, Another Show.

This was the title of Tony King’s talk for the afternoon on the subject of musicals.

The story began in 1728 when John Gay wrote the Beggar’s Opera and continued on to 1855 with the music of Offenbach for the shocking Can Can.

Very soon afterwards Gilbert and Sullivan began their partnership at the Savoy Theatre in London with their operas, the first being HMS Pinafore in 1878, followed by The Mikado, Iolanthe and The Yeomen of the Guard.

In America by 1927 Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein were producing Show Boat with such haunting tunes as Just My Bill, Can’t Help Loving That Man Of Mine and Ol’ Man River sung by Paul Robeson.

In the Twenties P G Wodehouse was writing shows, as were George and Ira Gershwin, featuring the dancers Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.

In London’s West End stage Noël Coward was putting on such shows as Cavalcade and Bitter Sweet.

By 1943 Richard Rodgers had teamed up with Hammerstein and produced the ever-popular Oklahoma, which ran for 2,212 performances.

Oh, What A Beautiful Morning was to be the hit song from this show.

More shows followed, such as Carousel, South Pacific and The King and I. In 1946 Betty Hutton starred in Annie Get Your Gun.

George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion was turned into the musical My Fair Lady in 1956 but not until after the writer’s death.

Eliza Dolittle’s song Wouldn’t It Be Loverly was played by Mr King.

Stanley Holloway cannot be forgotten for his part as Dolittle the dustman.

The Montagues and Capulets of Shakespeare were turned into the Jets and Sharks of West Side Story, which was on the American stage in 1957.

In the Sixties there were such shows as Oliver!, which Lionel Bart sold to Max Bygraves for a mere pittance, who then went on to make a lot of money from it.

Then came the era of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice — Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Cats and Phantom of the Opera, the latter featuring Michael Crawford who had trained as a chorister in his youth.

Cameron Macintosh came on the scene and produced, among others, Les Misérables abnd Mr King’s presentation finished with the rousing song Do You Hear The People Sing? from this show.

President Pat Eades welcomed 36 members and two visitors to the meeting and also Shiplake WI and Sonning Common members from the Beechwood Group. Birthday greetings were given to Patricia Williams, Joan Bree and Pippa George.

The trip to the Cotswolds, organised by Patricia Williams, had been a very successful event and members had visited Cirencester, Painswick and the Cheltenham Christmas market.

An invitation had been received from Shiplake WI to join them on March 2, when they travel to London to see The Girls, the musical based on the Calendar Girls play and film.

Members were reminded to bring to the January meeting the slip from WI Life regarding the resolutions for the 2017 annual meeting.

There was also a reminder about the event in Benson on February 22 on the subject of the First World War when Sir Hugo Brunner will speak about his father and Ruth Rogers will tell of her role in playing part of the warhorse.

The raffle for a beautiful hamper was won by Joan Mills.

The competition for a Christmas cracker was a tie between Joan Hoyes, Pam Hails and Judith Young.

The first meeting of 2017 will be on January 11 when Jan Barber says “Let’s get active.” It will be held at Harpsden village hall, commencing at 2.30pm. Do come along and see how active we can be.


TIM VALENTINE entertained members and guests at our December meeting.

He played the piano all afternoon and we sang some of our favourite carols with great enthusiasm.

Tea was provided by members with traditional flower arrangements on tables made by Shirley Hartley Booth.

A surprise visit from Father Christmas brought festivities to a close and everyone went on their way having wished each other a Merry Christmas and a peaceful and healthy New Year.

Our next meeting will be at Peppard war memorial hall on January 11 at 2pm when Dr Ellen Kruidenier and the team from Sonning Common Health Centre will discuss with us “Matters of life and death”. Visitors would be most welcome.


OUR Christmas party took place at our December meeting.

The committee and members arrived in festive spirit and everyone was welcomed by our president Jenny Ward, who kept the business matters to a minimum so that the party could start as soon as possible.

There were just two reports, one from Gill Hayward which told of the fantastic success of the December village coffee morning hosted by Sonning Common WI.

The hall was decorated and there were beautifully festive sales tables surrounding the coffee tables where mince pies and tea and coffee were enjoyed. Every table was full.

Christmas music was played in the background and it was a lovely, happy occasion enjoyed by all.

The funds raised will be shared with local community projects.

Jenny thanked Gill and the fund-raising team for their work and commitment during the past year.

There will not be a coffee morning in January. The next one will be on Wednesday, February 1 in Sonning Common village hall when cheques will be presented to the chosen local community projects, FISH, Sonning Common Lunch Club, Club SC youth club, Thames Valley Air Ambulance and the Friends of Sonning Common Library. All are welcome.

Sue Hedges asked members if they would like to join a craft group and a board for names to be added for those interested was circulated.

A good interest was shown and Sue will endeavour to set up the first session.

This will boost our extra activities with our darts and scrabble clubs both doing well.

We then enjoyed a lovely supper which was produced and served to members by the committee.

Sue Frayling-Cork had made a lovely Christmas cake and this was served too. The tables were decorated and each table had one of Jackie Cheffings’s musical action Christmas characters which were responsible for much laughter and enjoyment.

After supper, the tables were cleared to make way for a large circle of chairs and a game of pass the parcel took place.

Sue Frayling-Cork had made two fantastic parcels so that there was a present for everyone and sometimes a forfeit too. The presents caused much hilarity and

During this game, members of the committee sneaked out to the back room to change into their outfits for a surprise entertainment event for the other members.

When the game of pass the parcel had finished, Gill Hayward walked on to the stage dressed as a scarecrow and told members that she would be the narrator for a little sketch about our “village people”.

Jane Handley, one of our committee members, had written the playlet and cast each person in relation to their surname.

Hence, Hayward means ward of the hay, so Gill was a scarecrow.

Sue Hedges was obviously the gardener who cuts hedges, Jane Handley became Jane Han Li from the Chinese takeaway and Anne Croxson, our treasurer, came from the Bank of Ann from Vietnam (which does exist).

Di Soden became Di Sew-dem, the village craft shop owner, Carol Townhill was Carol Townhall, the local councillor, and Jenny Ward became the local nurse with a very large, threatening syringe!

Alison Bishop was, yes, the local bishop in full regalia complete with mitre.

Jackie Cheffings was the prompt and dresser.

The costumes were just fantastic and the script was witty and amusing and had members laughing and clapping. None of them had any idea that the committee were to be the Christmas entertainment.

Jane was presented with a chocolate “Oscar”, which was actually a chocolate Father Christmas. She was suitably embarrassed and grateful to receive the honour and thanked everyone in true film star style.

Soon it was time for everyone to leave and Jenny thanked everyone for coming and wished us all a very happy Christmas and said she looked forward to seeing everyone at our January meeting.


OUR last meeting of the year went with a swing thanks to our guest band, The Blue Bears.

Thanks to two of our members, both Pennys, being “family and friends” of the musicians, we made an early booking for them to entertain us at our Christmas party.

The two guitarists, a clarinetist and a female lead singer played some very recognisable and lively songs for us in Checkendon village hall, where we had decamped so that we could invite husbands along to join in the fun.

A superb spread of festive food followed, plus the now expected quiz.

Father Christmas visited with sweets for all and a very good evening was enjoyed by all.

Members went to Kew Gardens, to Oxford town hall for Christmas Songs and to a Christmas lunch out as well as spending a nice afternoon making some tree decorations. Some members took up the invitations to visit other WIs for their Christmas celebrations, which is always nice.

More joined with Whitchurch Hill WI to go to a bakery for a demonstration of Christmas baking and two had a go themselves while there.

In January we pay our subscriptions so that we can enjoy another year of fun and friendship, starting with a talk on wildlife in January.

New members would find this a good time to join with a full year of activities to join in.


IT was the season to be merry when our Christmas social evening took place.

Our entertainment for the evening was provided by Rick Griffin.

First we played musical chairs, without losing any chairs. This proved to be very popular with ladies rushing back to their seats amid much laughter.

When we were sufficiently calmed down, we had musical consequences with Rick playing tunes from the Forties to make a simple story.

Our ladies had brought a wonderful selection of delicious food and there were festive drinks to go along with this.

Afterwards Rick accompanied us in singing popular songs, carols and, finally,

Many thanks to Rick for his enthusiasm at the piano and for giving us a good Christmas evening.

For our February 8 meeting, Christine Green will be giving a demonstration of paper cutting and March will be our annual meeting. We meet in Watlington town hall at 7.30pm. If you are interested in joining our WI, please call Kath Gomm on (01491) 612939.


MEMBERS welcomed members from two other WIs who joined them for a “getting ready for Christmas” demonstration at Warings Bakery in Reading in early December.

All had an entertaining morning, learning how to make Christmas stollen, Danish pastries, cheese straws, focaccia and stilton and chutney lattice.

Six members bravely accepted the invitation to partake in the “hands-on” session.

Following refreshments, we all made our separate ways home with boxes of goodies.

In the midst of preparations, however, we also bore in mind those not as fortunate as ourselves and collected practical items needed by the Reading Women’s Refuges for the women and their children, many of whom have left their homes with virtually nothing.

Our generous members filled eight large plastic bags with a variety of clothing, toiletries and toys.

We had no business meeting in December but members celebrated Christmas with a festive lunch at a local hostelry, where we were looked after very well with good food and wine and good company.

Early in January we will be gathering at a member’s house for New Year afternoon tea and on the third Tuesday of the month we will resume our regular business/speaker meetings with a talk by Claire Whitehead about alpacas.

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

We have a wide variety of speakers and activities and visitors are welcome.

For more information, please call 0118 984 1696


ANN LARDEN welcomed members to our Christmas meeting and our thoughts were with those who were poorly and could not attend.

The hall looked festive with the table decorations lit with candles and a basket of presents from Santa.

The committee had been busy making the scrummy food.

We had only one birthday girl and that was Joan Snook who received a buttonhole.

We were entertained by Carol Edgar and Julian who sang some wonderful songs from their favourite musicals and finished with Christmas carols to put us in the seasonal spirit as we sang along.

Ann read out a card from Jan Robinson from sunny Australia, with all her news and remembering her time spent with Woodcote WI.

A group of our members went to Christmas Songs at Oxford town hall earlier in the month. This was a mixture of carols, readings, poems and comic sketches.

There was also a trip to Kew Gardens to see the Christmas lights and a visit to Richmond.

Come and join our members. We meet on the third Wednesday of the month in Woodcote village hall.

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