Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Around the WI

Around the WI


AS our president Sandra unfortunately was ill, members elected Brenda to compère the evening.

Apologies were received and minutes were available on a side table for members to read, together with News & Views items. There were no matters arising.

Delia advised members of the various outings available in the new year.

Brenda then introduced Patricia Purcell to talk about her life and “Tales of the opera”.

Patricia began her career when she was nine singing in choirs. She was encouraged by her mother to sing.

Her mother entered her into various competitions and she came very close to winning on numerous occasions.

Her mother used to dress her like Shirley Temple with her hair in ringlets and in an organdie dress with white socks and black shoes.

Patricia felt that she must have been good as, on one occasion, a judge had come from London.

At this point Patricia burst into song and gave a rendition of the “white and brown” cow.

Patricia received a letter to attend an audition at the Empire Theatre in London.

As her mother was to accompany her, they were given travel expenses as well as accommodation.

Patricia was accepted and the newspapers announced that a young singer had joined Sadler’s Wells opera.

She sang various pieces from the operas she had taken part in and described the scenery from them.

At one time, the opera company were at Bournemotuh and alongside them on the beach was the circus.

During one of the scenes a very large white animal appeared and the singers all thought it was a polar bear that had escaped from the circus but they continued to act normally.

This animal was very quiet. It turned out to be a Pyrenean mountain dog. The owner had taken the dog for a walk and it had run off. The owner was very pleased to have it returned.

In another opera company one of the singers/actors had a little business on the side keeping chickens and sold the eggs to members of the cast.

Another member of the company lived out of a suitcase due to the touring allowance being only £5.

The actor Bill Owen was in one production, playing a character called Cocoa. He was not only good but went on to play Compo in Last of the Summer Wine.

With a further rendition from another opera, Patricia closed her talk.

Members were invited to ask questions while the committee prepared the Christmas supper.

The Christmas-themed raffle prizes were then selected. The meeting closed at 9.35pm.


AT our December meeting, we welcomed Monica Phillips and a couple of her long-time students to give us a go at line dancing.

She had brought some lovely music and took us (very patiently) through some simple steps as well as some more complicated ones.

We had a wonderful time dancing together.

We were also treated to a rather more professional show, which was excellent to watch. Afterwards, we shared a festive buffet and a fantastic Christmas cake made by Jill Wright with our guests and visitors, who included members from four other WIs.

Next month, we will be holding our annual members’ meeting, where members are invited to share their experiences and skills.

This year we will be hearing stories from two former mayors of Reading.

Ladies are very welcome to visit our friendly group. We meet at Church House, Prospect Street, Caversham, on the third Thursday of the month at 7.30pm, which helps avoid childcare issues. There is usually easy parking and a lift to the first floor meeting room.

For more information, call our secretary on 0118 947 5176 or visit https://tinyurl.
com/hwzj6zy or simply search online for “Caversham WI”.


OUR Christmas meeting was very enjoyable.

Members watched as Violet McMonnies decorated four tables for a festive lunch. Each table was very different but used the same method of decoration.

A hot spicy fruit drink was ready to have with the savouries and cakes that each member had brought to the meeting.

A super Christmas cake had been made by Margaret Keen for members to enjoy.

Our ladies dipped into the present bags and took home a gift. Crackers were on the tables and jokes were read aloud and laughed at!

The competition was for a paper hat and was won by our president Hilary.

Our Christmas lunch was at the Highwayman in Exlade Street on December 15. A good time was had by all.

Chazey WI has entered a team in the Berkshire WI quiz in January.

The knitting group continues to be popular and we thank Jean Pugh for her hospitality.

Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas, the meeting was closed.


ON Wednesday, December 13, president Adrienne welcomed members to the village hall, which had been bedecked with Christmas decorations and a tree for our annual Christmas lunch.

Members enjoyed chatting over a glass of wine or soft drink before settling down to enjoy a meal prepared by a local caterer.

Crackers were pulled in line with the tradition of wearing paper crowns!

When the meal was finished, Richard Lloyd entertained us, as he has done in previous years, by playing popular carols on the piano. The carols were chosen by members who were singing when children from Crazies Hill Primary School, led by headteacher Philippa Chan and the children’s teacher Jo Shell, came into the hall with their instruments and prepared to sing to us.

They chose a delightful programme, the first song being called Hand Chimes for which the children played their instruments and were accompanied by Mrs Shell on the flute.

They finished by singing, with much enthusiasm, the traditional We Wish You A Merry Christmas.

To the members’ delight, the children then mingled with them, chatting away with big smiles, before returning to school.

The choir meets every Friday lunchtime throughout the year and the childen range in age from seven to 11.

Many thanks to Anne Whittaker for making the delicious Christmas cake.

Our first meeting of the New Year will be held at Crazies Hill village hall on Wednesday, January 17 when Graham Foster will give a talk about the Thames Valley Air Ambulance. All are welcome.


OUR Christmas festivities kicked off with a very jolly lunch at Badgemore Park Golf Club.

This was a very happy event judging by all the laughter coming from around the tables.

This was swiftly followed by our December meeting at Greys village hall where our president Val welcomed us all. It was party time and the decorations were up and the party food ready.

However, first we were called to order by Janet, our secretary, to attend to the business of the day. Merryl was thanked for seamlessly organising the Christmas lunch at the golf club.

On to more serious matters, it was decided we would continue to collect toiletries and children’s essentials and donate them to Berkshire Women’s Aid.

This Oxfordshire Federation initiative had collected more than 400 boxes of toiletries from throughout the county which were sent to Oxford for distribution.

Looking forward to 2018, on January 16 Greys WI lunch club will be meeting at the Crown in Playhatch (12.30pm for 1pm) and on January 18 Val with be hosting the knit and natter club at her house from 10am to noon.

An outing to Denman College for a cookery demonstration is planned for March 12 and in July there will be a visit to the John Lewis Heritage Centre in Cookham, which comes highly recommended.

Then we were put to work as Joyce Robins, our floral expert, demonstrated and then guided us through the making of a festive floral decoration, using a small log, cones, roses and greenery, including rosemary, pine and eucalyptus, the fresh perfume filling the hall.

We amazed ourselves with our results, which looked so pretty.

After all that hard work it was party time and while we were having tea and, of course, mince pies, members read out Christmas-themed poems which they had either written or selected from favourites.

Our next meeting on January 17 is the Greys antiques roadshow with Simon Jones, of Watlington auctioneers Jones & Jacob, discussing the world of antiques and valuing items brought in by members.

Who knows — one of us might have a fortune lurking at the back of a drawer? I hope so. Do come and join us at Greys village hall at 2.30pm as you will be warmly


IT was Christmas party time for us in December.

Despite the icy roads and freezing weather, 40 members gathered at St Katherine’s, Parmoor, where we were warmly welcomed by the staff.

The tables looked festive thanks to Inger Osborn’s lovely flower arrangements.

We were served a delicious two-course meal after which we were entertained by the Marlow Ukulele Band wearing Father Christmas hats. They soon had us singing along.

The evening continued with an amusing sketch about a WI choir and the dilemmas of the poor minutes secretary.

This was entertainingly relayed to us by Liz Jarvis and her sore-throated assistant Eileen Collins.

Maureen Cleary then read to us about the history of Christmas crackers. Unfortunately, we ran out of time for more contributions from Jo Tilbury and Shelagh Green.

All in all, it was a very jolly start to Christmas.

A number of our members had enjoyed a wonderful evening at the Royal Albert Hall, listening to a Christmas concert conducted by John Rutter CBE.

Thanks must go to Helen Grubb and Jo Martin for organising the outing, which included a pre-concert supper in the Verdi Restaurant for some of us.

We will meet again on Thursday, January 11 when our speaker will be Diane Latham talking about her life as a shepherdess and midwife.

We meet in Hambleden village hall on the second Thursday of the month, starting at 7.30pm and welcome new members.

For more information, please visit our website, www.hambleden-wi.org


THIRTY-FIVE members were present at the Christmas meeting.

Pat Eades swiftly dealt with any business, informing members that the mountain of shoeboxes from all the Oxfordshire WIs for the Women’s Refuges in Oxford had now been delivered to a depot.

A reminder was given to bring the resolution voting slip, contained in the latest issue of WI Life, to the next meeting.

Items from News & Views included the outing to the Wallace Collection in London on February 6 and the Foreign Affairs meeting entitled “My travels as a midwife” and also “Romans Revisited” on February 26 being held in Cholsey. The Sunday lunch ladies will meet on January 14. The entertainment was provided by the committee and two other members.

First on the stage was the cast of Cinderella, an abridged version in deadpan style.

This went down well with the audience judging by the laughter. Judith Young had much difficulty in deciding what items of clothing she should take away for a short weekend.

In the end, she needed a very large suitcase instead of a small holdall. Her poem was entitled Just In Case, which was very apt.

Jean Newman organised a parcel-passing game, which had participants in a quandary as to which was their left and right hand.

Rose Musselwhite and Judith reprised their bus outing sketch, with the latter being so glad that she didn’t have to go out with Rose again!

A general knowledge quiz, compiled by Shirley Weyman, was attempted at each table, with the winning table scoring a perfect 20 out of 20.

The Secret Santa baskets were carried around the hall, the raffle was drawn and carols were sung with Joan Hoyes at the piano.

The competition was for a Christmas tree decoration and resulted in a three-way tie for first place between Shirley, Suzanna and Di.

A plentiful Christmas tea was provided by the committee.

Our next meeting was to be at Harpsden village hall on January 10 with Gill Davies talking about her “Quilter’s journey”.


OUR WI went from strength to strength in 2017 and we want to thank everyone for their continued help and support.

We look forward with all our lovely members and those yet to join to a happy and fun 2018.

Our next meeting will be on January 19 at our new venue, Sacred Heart Church hall in Walton Avenue, Henley. Come along and bring a friend.


MEMBERS and guests were delighted that Pandemonium entertained us with their traditional folk songs and music suitable for the festive season.

Everyone joined in with the actions for The 12 Days of Christmas.

After an enjoyable tea provided by members, with lovely flower displays provided by Shirley Hartley Booth, the afternoon came to a close with a visit from Father Christmas.

Our next meeting was to be at Peppard War Memorial Hall on January 10 with Julia Miles giving a talk entitled “Ragbag and cocktail”.


WE finished off 2017 with an excellent Christmas lunch at the Flower Pot at Aston.

The lunch was attended by about 30 people, including a few husbands and friends, and was much enjoyed by all.

Our first meeting of the new year was at Remenham village hall on January 8, when Elizabeth Hazeldine told us about “Murders in Henley”.


FOR our Christmas party the hall looked very festive with a beautifully decorated tree and tables with a lovely centrepiece of a candle surrounded by greenery interspersed with white flowers, red berries, orange slices and holly.

A quiz about board games, card games and pastimes was on each table.

President Joan Jolley opened the meeting and apologies were received.

Joan reminded us of the fire regulations.

Rachel Lloyd, who is in Australia for three months, had sent Christmas greetings to all the members and said she was looking forward to spending Christmas Day in temperatures of 30C or more.

Sue Lines, the events organiser, spoke about the outings planned for the next few months. Theatre trips include Warhorse at the New Theatre Oxford and An American in Paris in London.

Sue has also organised a tour of the Leander Club in Henley in May and a trip to see Princess Diana’s dresses in July.

The speaker this month was Tony King whose subject was the history of musicals.

This was very enjoyable as everyone recognised every film and song even if they didn’t know all the words.

Tony started by talking about the first musicals in the 18th century, in particular John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera in 1728.

He continued through the ages, mentioning Gilbert and Sullivan, Jerome Kern, Ira Gershwin, Lerner and Loewe going up to the present-day musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

A lovely, relaxing talk which brought back memories for everyone.

We all enjoyed a delicious tea hosted by the committee. The tea tables were laden with sandwiches and savouries. There was so much food that the cakes and mince pies had to be laid out at the serving hatch.

The raffle was drawn and Joan read out the answers to the quiz. Two tables drew for first place and shared a tub of chocolates.


OUR Christmas Party was attended by 58 members.

The village hall had been beautifully decorated by volunteers and everyone admired them.

It had been decided that the theme for this year would be “sparkle” and it was wonderful to see that everyone had taken this on board.

We did indeed sparkle and it was a brilliant start to the evening to see all the members in their party clothes twinkling!

Jenny Ward, our president, welcomed everyone, thanking them for coming and wished everyone a very Happy Christmas and very best wishes for the New Year.

Alison Bishop, our brilliant programme organiser, then introduced Mike Hurst, our entertainer for the evening.

Mike was a member of Sixtries pop group The Springfields and also a successful record producer for artists such as Cat Stevens, Marc Bolan and the Four Tops, among many others. Dusty Springfield and her brother Tom were the other members of The Springfields, who were a huge success in their era and remembered by all.

Mike told us the story of popular music from the 16th century minstrels to modern pop music.

Folk music from the Middle Ages was transported by the early settlers to the New World where its echoes can still be heard in Nashville today.

The arrival of black African slaves who embraced Christianity gave us spirituals and subsequently gospel, soul, rhythm and blues and rap.

After each snippet of musical history, Mike played on his guitar and sang us examples of each era — ragtime, jazz, rock ’n’ roll and dance music.

All the songs he sang were well-loved memories for us and we were able to join in and enjoy the songs of our younger days.

We were very impressed with Mike’s knowledge of musical history and surprised that he also embraced modern music, rap, hip hop, garage, house and all the music none of us had a clue about!

It is all part of the magical history of music.

Mike had given us a treat which we all enjoyed. The vote of thanks by Marion Bayliss was given with warmth and enthusiasm and conveyed how much we had all enjoyed his storytelling and singing.

We then enjoyed a Christmas buffet which the committee had prepared.

A beautifully decorated fruit cake, which was made by Sandra Rhodes earlier in the year as part of our entry at the Henley Show, had been saved for this party. This brandy-enriched cake had matured and was a real treat.

There was a competition for the member who was the most sparkly, which was judged by Mike.

The winner was Pam Gross, who looked very glamorous and sparkly and her glittery shoes caught his eye.

There was another competition for an article from the Sixties. This was won by Margaret Pyle who had brought her white wedding shoes.

Second was Alison Bishop with a child’s plastic record player and third was Joan Evans with a Seekers LP.

We then played a very funny game of heads and tails which managed to confuse and entertain us in equal measure. This was won by Di Soden, who looked very surprised.

The evening came to an end and Jenny thanked everyone for coming and offered them best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

Earlier in December, we enjoyed our Christmas village coffee morning, which was a huge success.

Sue Hedges held a sales table and the proceeds will go to the Associated Country Women of the World.

There were the usual sales tables with a Christmas theme, cakes and Greenshoots with their produce.

Our next coffee morning will be at the village hall on February 7 at 10.30am, when we will be distributing donations to local community projects. All are very welcome and we hope you will join us.


SNOW did not stop most of us arriving for our evening Christmas party, although we had to be careful on the ice. A warm, cheery atmosphere and a glass of something nice greeted us and we chose our tables for the evening.

Carol of the Bells entertained us with some solo handbell ringing, some of which we joined in with, ringing, singing and even actions. She then joined us for our bring and share supper of festive food which was most enjoyable, as usual.

A taxing quiz kept us occupied during the evening, with at least two teams scoring high and the overall winners being amazed at how many of their guesses were correct. They had the smallest team too.

Father Christmas arrived, giving out chocolates amid much leg-pulling about who had been good or not.

A grand raffle was drawn and collections were made of donated goods for Berkshire Women’s Aid. We take them requested goods each year as we can be sure these go directly to those in need, indeed to those who have very little.

Some of us attended the launch and thanks for the refurbished village hall. Sue Fisher represented us by handing over our cheque for £600 to be put towards the new chairs.

The diners group had been to Thai Corner for a really interesting meal in an unusual setting (underground).

The games players visited a new house on the rota and enjoyed festive mince pies and Christmas cake, which took them by surprise as they had been told not to expect a lot as the owner was not one of our regular bakers!

Craft and swimming took place and will continue in early January.

Finally, we played a very silly game of chance before setting off for home when the temperature was actually higher than when we had arrived.

At our next meeting we will be looking at wartime quilts and catching up with any planned visits.


WE held our Christmas party in December. Our president Kath Gomm welcomed members to the evening.

Rick Griffin was our emcee, starting off with a version of musical chairs called fishes in the sea. This caused a lot of laughter. We then had some quizzes prepared by Kath and music played by Rick.

We were suitably sustained with Christmas nibbles made by members and washed down with festive drinks.

We all sang Christmas carols and songs, accompanied by Rick on the piano, and finshed off the evening with Jerusalem.

Many thanks to Rick for his Christmas music.

Members went on two trips in December, one to Waddesdon Manor, which was excellent. The light show on the house was magical.

The other was to the house at Stonor, which was superbly decorated and the ladies enjoyed lunch.

Our first meeting of 2018 was on January 10, when we had a talk by Ken and June Brazier called “Cycling the Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela”.

The next meeting will be on February 14 but, due to illness, our speaker is to be arranged.

We meet in Watlington town hall at 7.30pm and would be delighted to meet you. For more information, please call Kath Gomm on (01491) 612939.


MEMBERS enjoyed a demonstration of how to make Christmas table and door decorations from holly, ivy and other natural resources in early December.

Erica Cunningham, of Brambles florists in Sonning Common, made it look simple and everyone took home the results of their efforts.

In place of our regular business meeting, later in the month we gathered for an excellent festive luncheon at the Highwayman.

We shall start the new year with an afternoon tea for members and our next business meeting will be on Tuesday, January 16, when we will be given a talk by Clive Williams on “The Nabobs of Berkshire”.

Looking ahead to the coming year, we shall be organising a coffee and cake morning for charity at the Art Café in Whitchurch on February 17 and two members have volunteered to plan a local walk and lunch.

Other local events include a visit to the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed in March.

The National Federation’s annual meeting will be held in Cardiff in June and Whitchurch Hill WI is due to provide a delegate to represent our own WI and three others.

One of our resolutions from the 2017 meeting was on the subject of “Alleviating loneliness” .

We have already had some discussion on the subject and are preparing to take this further with practical suggestions from members to be considered and put into action.

We have a business meeting with a speaker on the third Tuesday of most months and we also plan a social or craft morning, or possibly a walk and pub lunch, usually on the first Tuesday of the month.

Our monthly meetings take place at Goring Heath parish hall, opposite St John’s Church on the B471, starting at 10.15am. Visitors are welcome. For more information, please call 0118 984 1696.


ANN LARDEN welcomed members to our Christmas meeting, where everyone looked very elegant in their Victorian costumes.

The hall looked festive with the candles on the table decorations already lit.

The food was provided by the committee and Edna Smith had very kindly made a delicious Christmas cake.

Celebrating birthdays in December were Joan Snook and Vivien Stevens.

We were entertained by Keith Harris, aka Mr Ivory Keys, and Miss Kitty Cupcake for some old time music hall which had us singing along.

The competition for an evening bag was won by Betty Thomas.

We all left with a present from Secret Santa.

We will meet in the new year to organise our homes and gardens trips for 2018. This will be followed by lunch at the Red Lion.

Come and join us on the third Wednesday of the month in Woodcote village hall.

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