Tuesday, 04 August 2020

WI Roundup

WI Roundup

CHAZEY

EVERYONE’S thinking about their summer holidays about now and here at Chazey we’re no different.

Trips and treats during the warmer months are part of WI life and members still look back fondly on a visit made to the Isle of Wight a few years ago, despite the fact that it never stopped raining. Ironically, it seems to have just added to the fun!

Chazey members have been getting together for trips ever since we were founded in 1982 by a group of young mums who lived on or near Chazey Road in Caversham Heights, hence our name.

Last year, for example, we visited the gorgeous Waterperry Gardens near Oxford on a glorious summer’s day in June, toured the enchanting Silk Mill and Bombay Sapphire gin distillery in Hampshire on another lovely sunny day in September and were again lucky with the weather when we stepped back in time at the living history Milestones Museum in Basingstoke in November.

And that’s not to mention our outings to Kensington Palace, the John Lewis Heritage Centre and local dinner theatre the Mill at Sonning for a performance of My Fair Lady.

This year we’ve compiled an itinerary of trips and treats for our members to look forward to starting next month with a visit to Yarnton Home and Garden in Kidlington.

Yarnton is much more than just a garden centre, offering something for everyone with its own shopping village with more than 20 outlets and we go there on March 27.

Next up is a visit to the New Theatre, Oxford, for the new musical version of Calendar Girls in April.

In May we’ll be making our way to London for a visit to the Foundling Museum in Brunswick Square.

This museum explores the history of London’s Foundling Hospital, the UK’s first children’s charity, established in 1739 by philanthropist Thomas Coram (under whose name the charity continues to this day) to care for babies at risk of being abandoned.

In 1700s London, parents who were unable to care for their children through poverty or illegitimacy had few options and up to 1,000 babies were left on doorsteps each year.

On June 7 we’re off on our main summer outing — this year to Mottisfont, the National Trust’s historic priory and riverside country estate near Romsey in Hampshire.

The former owner of this 18th century country manor invited artists in the Thirties to create works inspired by Mottisfont’s history, including a unique drawing room painted by Whistler.

The estate continues that artistic tradition today with its art collection and exhibitions in its first floor gallery.

The icing on the cake for Chazey members, however, will no doubt be its world famous collection of old-fashioned roses which flower just once a year in June — perfect timing!

We round off our itinerary for 2019 with a visit to the National Needlework Archive at Greenham Business Park, near Newbury, in July, which will be especially popular with those members who are keen needlewomen. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Perhaps you’d like to join our friendly group and enjoy these days out with us?

We meet every first Friday afternoon at St Andrew’s Hall in Caversham Heights and you can find us on Facebook or email us at chazeywi@gmail.com

CLEEVE BY GORING

EMPOWERING women — if you want to rule the world then look to your wardrobe first!

Image consultant Jo Hayley led members through the minefield of choosing colours and style which would complement the wearer when selecting clothes.

She explained that colour shows personality and demonstrated how the correct choice will enhance face shape as well as flattering skin and eyes.

She reminded everyone when talking about style that our body shape, i.e. our bone structure, does not change but our weight might!

This led on to guidelines for choosing garments which should always highlight the face, hide any blemishes and harmonise in colour.

The benefits of this are that it makes the wearer look good and therefore increases confidence levels, all important to face the challenges of this world, whether at work or socially.

The talk certainly gave members lots to think about.

After the business, Phil Sadler posed the second in her series of quiz questions on Oxfordshire, this month with a geographical theme.

The evening ended with a parade of hats which had been entered in the competition for “Your favourite hat”. These ranged from the functional to the frivolous, the winner being Margaret King with an elegant purple straw hat.

Details of future meetings are on the Genie online calendar.

COCKPOLE GREEN

ON Wednesday, February 20, president Adrienne welcomed members and guest speaker Shirley Collie.

Shirley is very much a local resident having lived in Wargrave for 40 years.

When she retired, she applied to become a case worker for the Royal British Legion.

This entailed meeting people connected with National Service, which ended in 1963, and those who have completed regular military service.

Shirley has a strong connection to the armed forces as one of her own sons is in the navy. She also used to work for the Minstry of Defence.

The Legion was formed on May 15, 1921 by former servicemen wishing to support fellow veterans following the First World War.

It is a British charity providing financial, social and emotional support to members and veterans of the British armed forces, their families and dependants.

It has 2,500 branches in the UK and 80 overseas.

The charity’s aim is to provide health and welfare, representation and comradeship to all in need.

The Legion currently spends more £1.6million per week on welfare.

This is where Shirley gets involved as she visits people who have asked for help. It is quite a long process as many aspects have to be covered.

Shirley took 12 cases last year, which were often complex and difficult.

In Berkshire alone last year there were 1,034 claimants who needed financial help. Their average age was between 40 and 50.

The circumstances are all different, ranging from emergency grants, housing and benefit support and advice to help with household goods and the provision of mobility aids.

Apart from helping the veterans, the Legion also takes on responsibility for the Festival of Remembrance in November and the ceremony at the Cenotaph in Whitehall. These are powerful reminders of those who sacrificed their lives during the wars.

The 2018 Poppy Appeal was the Legion’s biggest logistics operation in its history with a target to collect £50million.

For every £1 raised, 77p is spent on charitable activities.

Remembrance poppies are made in Richmond.

The factory was founded in 1922 and offered employment to wounded soldiers returning from the First World War. Each poppy is hand-made.

This symbol was adopted thanks to Lt Col John McCrae who, following the death of a close friend, was inspired to write the poem In Flanders Fields in 1915.

He took inspiration from the sight of poppies rising from the devastation of the battlefields.

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow.

Between the crosses, row on row.”

Shirley shared some stories of the work she does for veterans, which made us realise the importance of supporting such a wonderful charity.

Many thanks to Nana Davis and Anne Whittaker, who served a delicious tea, including sandwiches and cakes.

Our next meeting will be held at Crazies Hill village hall on Wednesday, March 20 at 2.30pm.

It is an important date as it is our annual meeting when a new committee will be elected. It will be followed by a quiz.

Please remember to bring books as we will be manning a book stall at the Wargrave Festival in June.


GREYS

WE welcomed a number of visitors and new members to our February meeting.

Val, our president (and Valentine’s Day girl), was presented with a birthday posy with our best wishes.

Before introducing our speaker, she drew attention to the plight of the “Fish and Chip” babies in Africa — new babies who are wrapped in newspaper at birth for want of baby clothes.

She showed us the tiny bright coloured handed-knitted tops and hats being provided for them and suggested we make these at our knit and natter mornings — donations of bright coloured double-knitting wool would be appreciated.

Secretary Janet appealed for ideas for our centenary next year and showed the programme of events arranged by Peppard WI for their 2019 centenary.

Val introduced Mary Gregory, a member of Duns Tew WI and the Associated Country Women of the World representative on the Oxfordshire Federation’s foreign affairs committee.

Mary gave a fascinating account of the origins and development of the ACWW.

With the help of the coins that WIs collect, the charity funds projects for under-privileged women across the world, which it has been doing for the past 90 years.

It was founded by Madge Watts, the Canadian who also set up the Women’s Institute movement in this country.

The ACWW aims to raise the standards of living for rural women and families through education, training and community development programmes, which the women instigate themselves.

Once a project is chosen, the women receive practical support and help to set up income-generating schemes. At international level, ACWW has the ear of the UN through its consultative status.

Mary gave us the good news that Oxfordshire was just £40 short of the end-of-year goal of £3,179 in support of our project in Ghana, which aims to improve the nutrition of children under-five by helping women to produce Weanimix, a nutritious, porridge-type food.

This will see the start of the Women Empowered Fund, enabling the ACWW to fund and support projects in a more efficient and cost-effective way.

Mary explained how the 460 member societies covering 70 countries are organised and managed.

It’s a huge undertaking but makes a real difference to the lives of rural women.

She suggested ways we could help even more with various fund-raising ideas and said that unwanted foreign coins had already raised more than £3,000.

Secretary Janet thanked Mary for a very interesting afternoon. We were then treated to a delicious tea provided by Gill, Gladys and Merryl.

Our annual meeting will be held at Greys village hall on Wednesday, March 20 when Jean Watkins will tell us about her childhood in Greys Green in the Thirties. Come and join us at 2.30pm.

The next knit and natter meeting will be at Val’s house on Tuesday, March 26 at 10.30am.

HAMBLEDEN

OUR February meeting was enjoyed by all.

Our speaker was Mike Dewey who spoke about “The shopping experience in Wycombe 1945-70”.

We were delighted to listen to his wonderful account of the history of many favourite stores in Wycombe during this period.

Mike writes a weekly piece in the Bucks Free Press entitled “Nostalgia with a friend”. He also manages the Sharing Wycombe’s Old Photographs (SWOP) website, www.swop.org.uk

We are making plans for our centenary celebration in April. Members are working on a number of projects to mark the occasion.

An important part of every meeting is the opportunity for us all to get together, chat and drink tea.

Delicious refreshments were provided by Catherine Dinsdale, Jean Garon and Jo Tilbury.

Our next meeting will be on Thursday, March 14 when Simon Jones will talk on “The autioneer’s lot”.

Hambleden WI will host the Slade group meeting in the village hall on March 26 when a representative of the Associated Country Women of the World will speak about the charity’s work.

If you would like to consider joining our WI, please feel free to come along as a visitor to any of our meetings — a warm welcome awaits you.

To see our programme of events, please visit our website, www.hambleden-wi.org

HARPSDEN

IT was a beautiful, early spring day for the February meeting and a shame to be indoors.

However, there was business to be done and a speaker to listen to.

Pat Eades welcomed everyone and a new member, Sarah Puddick.

Members were asked to sign up for the group meeting on April 8.

There are two ballots being held for the Oxfordshire Federation and the national committee. These had been discussed by the Harpsden committee and Pat put forward various names for consideration.

News & Views contained information on the afternoon tea with Peter Lawrence on April 6 and of the Federation weekend at Denman College in November.

Congratulations were given to Peppard WI on their centenary.

All Oxfordshire WIs are being asked to knit little woolly hats for Innocent smoothie bottles.

For each one sold 25p goes to the local Age UK branch. In the last 15 years £2million has been raised in this way.

The Oxfordshire Federation’s annual meeting will be held at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford on March 26. Lunch is included in the price of £21.

In the evening a concert featuring the Dung Beatles, a tribute band, will be held in Kidlington. The price is £15.

A big thank-you from the chairman of the public affairs committee was included in News & Views for the donations to various food banks in the county last Christmas.

Hilary Dix has been appointed by the Oxfordshire Federation as a climate change ambassador to spread information on the topic.

Following a well-attended art taster day last year, another one will be held in Benson on June 13, commencing at 10.30am.

There will be an art and craft exhibition in Didcot on September 21 and members should get working on entries for this centenary event.

Ceramics, watercolours, photography, embroidery, patchwork, crochet and soft toys are all eligible for entry.

There will be a meeting in Benson on April 25 (10.30am), entitled “The royal touch”.

Carolyn Robb, who was personal chef to the Prince and Princess of Wales, will be talking about her work in the royal household. The price is £12.

Finally in News & Views there were pictures from Sonning Common and HoT (Henley-on-Thames) WIs showcasing their activities.

Patricia Williams has organised a visit to Frogmore House on August 7 and names were taken for what should be an interesting outing.

Pat then introduced our speaker Mike Payne, who said he was happy to be back in Harpsden as it was where he had scored two centuries on the cricket field.

His subject was “The history of Pinewood Studios”.

The original building was called Heatherden Hall and was owned by Dr Drury Lavin. It then passed to Grant Mordon MP, who lost his fortune in the Twenties and Thirties, so the house was put up for sale. Charles Boot bought it at auction.

The house has some fine wood panelling, which is reputed to have come from HMS Mauretania, and the ceilings are very ornate.

Money was always a problem and some parts of the house were let out, notably to the Royal Mint for a time.

Joseph Arthur Rank then appeared on the scene as a producer, entrepreneur and film-maker.

Studios were built in the gardens and the name was changed from Heatherden Hall to Pinewood after the pine trees in the grounds and Hollywood.

The iconic image at the beginning of films by J Arthur Rank of a gong being hit is of a man known as Bombardier Billy Wells.

The first film that was produced at the Pinewood Studios was London Melody, starring Anna Neagle and Herbert Willcox.

Jessie Matthews also starred in Pinewood films.

In 1938 the money was running out and the studios were shut down.

During the Second World War the buildings were used for storage. The RAF and Polish forces used the facilities to make films.

When hostilities finished in 1945 filming began again with such films as Green for Danger, Great Expectations and The Importance of Being Earnest.

The Doctor films with Dirk Bogarde, Leslie Phillips, James Robertson Justice and Diana Dors began to be produced at Pinewood, followed by the Carry On and James Bond films.

It wasn’t until around 1976 that the Superman films brought in the money and Pinewood flourished again. Extra land was acquired and more studios were built.

Mike finished his talk with a trick question: Who wore the same coat in every film? (Answer at the end of this report).

Di Painter gave the vote of thanks to Mike for a very interesting and enjoyable talk.

The competition was for “Something small and old” and was won by Audrey Fox with Rose Musselwhite and Judith Young tied for second place.

Our annual meeting will be held at Harpsden village hall on March 13, commencing at 2.30pm.

After the business, Rose will tell the story of her life as a tiller girl. The competition will be for “An item of jewellery.

Answer: Lassie.

HOT (HENLEY-ON-THAMES)

WE were pleased our February meeting was well attended on a cold winter evening.

We had everything slightly topsy turvy as our speaker wasn’t able to join us until 8.30pm, so the ladies had a nice hot coffee, cake and a catch-up before the meeting.

Then Susannah talked through any business and encouraged members to maybe think about putting themselves forward to join the committee at next month’s vote.

We welcomed beauty therapist Donna Thomson as our guest speaker.

Having been in the industry for many years, she was extremely knowledgeable and we enjoyed a very interactive hour talking through the best skincare routines and products for skin type/age.

Let’s just say organic is definitely the way forward.

To finish off the evening there was, as always, a glass of wine and plenty of chat (and possibly some more cake!) Thanks to all those who provided the delicious goodies.

At our next meeting we will have a talk about scent dogs and their part in search and rescue.

This will be on March 15 at 7.30pm at the Sacred Heart Church hall in Walton Avenue, so please come along and join us. For more information, please email hotwi@oxfordshirewi.co.uk

MILL GREEN, WARGRAVE

THE annual meeting took place in the Hannen Room, Mill Green, on Wednesday, February 6.

Our president Frankie Macmillan gave a warm welcome to all.

Members of the committee were voted back into office for another year: Frankie Macmillan as president, Jan French as vice- president, Wendy Porter as treasurer, Pat Jones as secretary, Carol Evans as programme secretary and Gina Foden.

Pat then gave a detailed report on our talks and activities in 2018 featuring author Linda Fawke, actor Jonathan Fryer, swan upping with Sue Milton, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, millinery, Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, a cookery demonstration and to the roof of Africa, Kilamanjaro.

We also had an outing to Mottisfont, a garden party, a members’ evening and Christmas dinner.

Frankie then gave a report on our varied programme for this year and also thanked all members of the committee for their hard work.

The financial statement was presented and showed the accounts were in good order, although receipts were slightly down on the previous year. We will redress this in 2019, festival year.

Wendy was thanked for her hard work in keeping our finances in order.

Hilda Freeman kindly gave the vote of thanks to the president and committee.

Our guest speaker for the evening was John Fryer who gave a talk on Wargrave as it was and he had brought along two photographs showing the village pre-war.

His talk was informative, insightful and amusing and he spoke of a bygone age in Wargrave, from the characters he considered to be the greatest villagers to all the small businesses which flourished here.

John also spoke of how free the young people felt, disappearing for whole days on adventures and only reappearing for tea or supper.

He kindly offered a trout as a raffle prize with the proceeds going to his charity, Faith, instead of a speaker’s fee, a kind gesture.

The Berkshire Federation’s spring centenary council meeting will be held in the great hall at the University of Reading’s London Road campus on April 12 from 10.30am to 1pm.

The speaker will be Vera de Menezes who uses her beautiful needlework to tell her family story as refugees from Uganda. The national chairman Lynne Stubbings will be the second speaker.

Our next meeting will be on April 3 when David Sheehan will talk about the history of the John Lewis partnership. There will be a bring and buy in aid of Associated Country Women of the World. Meetings are held in the Hannen Room, Mill Green. at 7.30pm on the first Wednesday of each month unless otherwise stated.

PEPPARD

MICHAEL MACLEOD held us all spellbound when he took us down memory lane with a detailed look back at the first 20 years of Peppard WI.

The founding members got very involved in the community and voluntary services and their meetings covered a variety of subjects and crafts.

These ladies obviously had great character and strength of purpose and it is thanks to them that we are here today.

Pauline Leicester brought spring flowers and Buddy Group Two provided tea.

Our centenary annual meeting will be held in Peppard war memorial hall on Wednesday, March 12 at 2pm.

ROSEHILL

FEBRUARY already — soon be Christmas!

Our president Arlene Riley welcomed all present (members and visitors) to our February meeting on a pleasant winter afternoon.

She told us that the record of the January meeting was available for all to see and that any matters arising should be brought to the notice of either the president or secretary.

We were reminded that the Berkshire Federation’s spring centenary council meeting will be held in the great hall at the University of Reading’s London Road campus on Friday, April 12 from 10.30am to 1pm.

Tickets cost £13 and need to be applied for by March 15.

More details can be found in Berkshire WI News.

We had a short report from Judith, our treasurer, who said that last month’s sales table raised £12 and the raffle £32.

Unfortunately, no birthday buttonholes were distributed this month as Margaret Seal was unable to attend due to illness.

The clubs continue with the Scrabble group meeting twice in February, the book club once and the lunch club visiting Carluccio’s.

The cinema group hoped to see All Is True, starring Judi Dench and Kenneth Branagh.

Boards were circulated for any members wishing to go on a trip to either the Milestones Museum in Basingstoke or the Mill at Sonning for a tour backstage followed by a cream tea. These will both take place later in the year.

There are other outings and talks described in Berkshire WI News.

Our speaker Kate Bettison gave a very interesting talk about “My life as a film extra”, detailing the various television programmes and films she had been involved in and the star names she had worked with. Thank you, Kate.

This was followed by a short talk by WI adviser Anne Knee-Robinson who outlined the importance of the WI committee and encouraged new members to come forward.

Finally, there was the usual cup of tea and biscuit before the raffle was called.

Arlene closed the meeting and announced that the next one would be our annual meeting on March 6 at 2pm. We meet on the first Wednesday of the month at St Barnabas Church hall, Emmer Green.

REMENHAM

OUR president Daphne Austen was in the chair for our annual meeting.

She welcomed Audrey Curtis, a new member, and Wendy Robinson, a WI adviser.

As usual, we preceded the annual meeting with a very jolly lunch and the committee was heartily thanked for providing this.

After lunch the business was gone through.

The Berkshire quiz night that was snowed off will now be held on March 26 and Remenham WI will be sending a team.

Our “green” representative Judy Palmer urged members to fill in the chart on our noticeboard with what they were doing to help the environment.

Categories include replacing light bulbs with the more economical LED ones, never using or accepting plastic bags and car sharing.

A total of 130 hats knitted by members for premature babies were presented to the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading and gratefully received.

The results of our votes on the six resolutions put forward for the National Federation’s annual meeting in June were announced. We voted almost unanimously for local bus services to be reinstated.

This result will go forward with those of the other WIs in the Berkshire Federation.

Mr Austen had made large plaques for members to collect 100 coins and stick them on with the proceeds going to the Associated Country Women of the World.

Ann Francis presented the financial report, which had been duly approved by Richard Fletcher. The president and secretary then gave their annual reports.

The cups were presented as follows: Best bloom — Belinda Fitzwilliams; photography — Judy Palmer; craft — Sheila Constantinidi; most helpful member during the year — Jen Terry.

Wendy Robinson then organised the voting for president and committee.

Daphne Austen was voted in as president for the forthcoming year and eight committee members were re-elected. Sheila Constantinidi was retiring from the committee and was presented with a beautiful planter full of plants.

After the business, we began to fill 100 bags of toiletries for people having to make unexpected stays in hospital. Each bag has a toothbrush, flannel, toothpaste comb and soap plus a razor and shaving soap for men’s bags. These will be given to the accident and emergency department at the Royal Berkshire Hospitsal in Reading.

These, together with the baby hats and the coin plaques, will be part of our contribution to the Oxfordshire Federation’s centenary celebrations.

The next meeting will be held at Remenham village hall on March 11 at 2.30pm, when the speaker Angela O’Connell will talk about the National Gardens Scheme. All are welcome.

SHIPLAKE

THE memorial hall in Shiplake was especially full for our February meeting. Our president Joan Jolley was pleased to welcome one new member and three visitors who, we hope, will soon become members.

She reminded everyone that membership subscriptions for this year were overdue and requested that we completed the new forms which give each individual’s permission for any photographs of our activities to be printed in relevant publications, such as the Henley Standard.

She was delighted that 16 members had joined our first walk, almost three miles around Shiplake, which is to be part of a 100-mile target for the Oxfordshire Federation’s centenary celebrations.

Our walk is now to be a regular event, meeting at the Corner Shop on Fridays at 10am.

We have been invited to a tea organised by local scouts on March 24, a hotel in Banbury is looking for the “best” scone and jam recipes, Innocent has initiated a scheme to knit cosies for its smoothie bottles to raise money for Age UK Oxfordshire and we have been invited to a pancake supper at Dunsden.

Among WI activities, there is to be an arts and crafts exhibition in September and we will be represented at the Oxfordshire Federation’s annual meeting at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford, taking our banner along for display.

Our next group meeting will be at Harpsden on the afternoon of April 8.

Sue Lines has been really busy organising trips for the coming months.

We are going to the Ardley recycling centre in April, Kelmscott in May, Greys Court in May and Cliveden in June.

For July, Sue has booked seats for us to see Private Lives at the Mill at Sonning.

Finally, Sue was delighted that one of our speakers from last year has invited us to the Commandant’s Parade at Sandhurst in August.

Our guest speaker was Simon Jones, of Jones & Jacob Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers.

He started by explaining a bit about his business in Watlington, the type of goods or “chattels” which might be auctioned and his auction rate — perhaps 120 lots an hour.

He then went on to enlighten us about the various valuation figures we might encounter.

There is the likely sale value, the insurance value and the open market value.

We were rather surprised by the difference between these figures but certainly learned some important lessons from his explanation.

For the next part of his talk, Mr Jones described, discussed and valued more than 30 antique items which had been brought along by our members.

He was not the slightest bit daunted by artefacts including a dual-purpose walking stick, a court sword, trench art, paintings, books, medals and numerous small items of silverware, bone, papier mâché, glass and porcelain, answering all our questions as he went along.

This was all really fascinating and informative.

After the speaker, members enjoyed an excellent tea. The tea hostesses were Paula Benham, Mavis Crouch and Susan Lines.

Our March gathering is our annual meeting when we review what we have done over the last year and elect the committee for the coming year. Visitors are always welcome.

More details about Shiplake WI are on the Shiplake villages website.

SONNING COMMON

ON a spring-like evening, our president Jenny Ward welcomed everyone to the February meeting.

There were 51 members and two visitors.

Jenny spoke about our forthcoming annual meeting in March at the end of the WI year, when the committee and president for the following year are voted for.

Jenny explained the process. Nominations were welcome and if anybody wanted any further information about joining the committee, they should speak to her or a member of the committee.

She said that being on the committee was an excellent way to feel involved, in whatever capacity, and that she had found it both interesting and very enjoyable.

Rosemary Greeley, Diane Soden and Jane Handley, who are current committee members, each gave a short report on what it meant to them to be on the committee and how much they enjoyed the friendship and opportunity to discuss ideas and future plans together.

Jenny thanked everyone who had helped at our February village coffee morning where we presented £200 to each of five local community projects from funds raised at the coffee mornings in the past year.

Letters of thanks had been received.

Sue Hedges spoke about the National Federation‘s campaign “Show the Love” in support of helping to tackle climate change.

She thanked Chris Gibson, Beverley Porteous, Chris Marsh, Barbara Sadler and Pat Kitt who had helped her make the green hearts banner displayed on the back wall at the village hall for the month of February.

She told us of the enormous global challenge that faces us but said that if we all do our bit, however small, it would help save our planet for future generations.

The committee and many members wore their green heart badges with pride.

Sue then updated members with details of the many craft group activities.

This group is growing and is a lovely way to enjoy crafting in any form, while also having a good chat and a cup of coffee.

Details were given of the Oxfordshire Federation’s centenary arts and craft exhibition at Didcot in September. Details could be found in News & Views.

Marian Bayliss then introduced our speaker, Mike Brook, who is an amateur actor and orator of all things amateur dramatics.

He thanked us for inviting him and for the warm welcome he had received.

He said it was good to see so many of us in the audience. He had spoken at many WIs over the years.

His full-time occupation is as a senior librarian and he grew up with a love of books.

He ventured into amateur dramatics as a young man and it has brought him much joy, panicky moments and a great deal of pleasure.

Mike entertained us with monologues and excerpts from Talking Heads by Alan Bennett and E L Wisty by Peter Cook. These were followed by short stories and memories of his involvement with productions such as Outside Edge, A Tale of Two Cities, Blythe Spirit, Rebecca and The Crucible.

His final piece was a take on a very drunk Rowan Atkinson part which caused much amusement.

We were impressed with his ability to remember lines from all these plays which he delivered professionally. A very entertaining evening.

Mairwen West gave the vote of thanks and said it reminded her of her days as a school teacher doing drama with the children.

We then enjoyed refreshments and the raffle.

The flower of the month competition was won by Jo Denslow, with Sue Frayling-Cork and Mairwen West joint second.

The competition for a theatre programme was won by Rosemary Greeley with Chris Marsh second and Lillian Dewar third.

SOUTH STOKE

OUR meeting on Tuesday, February 12 was attended by 33 members and one visitor.

After dealing with WI business, Rita Mann welcomed our speaker, Captain Kamran Irani.

He gave a very interesting and informative talk on the work of the Blood Bikers.

The bikers are a group of volunteers who provide a free, out-of-hours medical transportation service to the NHS by delivering blood, blood products, surgical instruments and human donor milk when urgently needed by patients within NHS establishments across the country.

The bikers have groups covering the whole country and our area is covered by the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire group.

The Blood Bikers receive no government or NHS funding, so rely on donations.

Three members celebrated their birthdays this month and were each given a small gift and a birthday card.

Suzanne Small, Jenny Mansfield and Lis Harrison produced a delicious tea and we finished the afternoon with a raffle.

STOKE ROW

FOR our 63rd birthday meeting we were pleased to welcome guests from neighbouring WIs.

In a change from the programme due to the hospitalisation of our booked speaker, our March meeting speaker stepped forward a month.

Our own member Tilley Smith took us trekking in Norway.

First she showed us the contents of her enormous back pack, which had to carry a week’s food as well as clothes.

She was staying in huts on the hillsides which sometimes had no running water or light. Candlelight and jumping in the lakes to wash were the order of the day!

Despite having to walk over rocks carrying the backpack all day, crossing rivers by stepping stones, she still managed to enjoy it with the encourgement of their group leader.

This was a superb and unexpected talk, although we all decided it would not be our idea of fun!

We had two competitions, one for a musical item, which would have accompanied our original speaker. This was won by Alison with a handbell.

The other winner was Daphne with a lovely genuine Norwegian embroidered waistcoat to fit the theme of the talk.

The flowering stem of the month was won by Rosie, who we were pleased to see after a spell of ill health.

Names of helpers and bakers were taken for the Woodcote coffee shop and for the group meeting coming up at Harpsden.

Supper included a birthday cake, with plenty of delicious offerings to choose from, accompanied by a glass of wine or soft drinks.

Next month we will have our annual meeting with the election of the committee and president followed by our replacement entertainment.

We start the new season in April when we will find out what delights the new programme will offer.

WATLINGTON

OUR speaker at the February meeting was Rosemary Edginton, a volunteer with the charity Hearing Dogs for the Deaf.

She was accompanied by her own dog Teaker and gave us a very inspiring and informative talk.

The charity now breeds its own dogs, spaniels, labradors and poodles.

Teaker was used for breeding and had four litters before she retired.

There are usually 200-plus puppies in the training system each year, which starts when they are eight weeks old and continues until they are matched with their new deaf owner. The training costs £45,000 per dog.

In March we will hold our annual meeting.

In April Caz Hitchrock will speak on “Keeping mobile through yoga” and in May Tracey O’Hara will talk about the Florence Nightingale Hospice Charity.

For more information, please call Kath Gomm on (01491) 612939.

WHITCHURCH HILL

THE month of February started with a craft workshop where members learnt about the plight of hedgehogs and then made lavender bags in the form of knitted hedgehogs.

This was lots of fun and a good social morning as well as hopefully making a contribution towards their wellbeing.

At our usual business meeting, 22 members joined president Frances to listen to Jane Stubbs talking about “Corsets, crinolines and mangles”.

She entertained us by removing clothes, layer by layer, from the mannequin, Mrs Fairfax.

Jane talked about the women’s world in Victorian times and how things have, or have not, changed.

There were women going out to work to help raise their family then — nothing new there!

Only the rich could afford to pay for a seamstress to make their clothes, the rest had to sew their own or rely on second-, third- and fourth-hand shops for their wardrobe.

Members have continued bringing in foodstuffs for the food bank and about six bags will be delivered this week to the Wallingford food bank. There was a “bring and buy” for charity too. Doreen Pragnell won the raffle and president Frances the flower of the month competition with a camellia.

We were reminded that the annual meeting will b held in March and members were invited to put their names forward for the committee and help keep our WI strong and lively.

The social morning at the beginning of March will be a Thames-side walk and lunch at the Perch and Pike in South Stoke.

At our April meeting we will welcome back Frances Benton to talk about pearls.

Our monthly 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 at 10am).

We also have a monthly social or craft morning, usually on the first Tuesday. Do come along and see what we do. For more information, please call 0118 984 1696.

WOODCOTE

ANN LARDEN welcomed members and our WI adviser Pat Eades to the February meeting on a warm, sunny winter’s day.

We were celebrating our 75th birthday and the tables were decorated with daffodils — spring is on the way.

Celebrating birthdays this month were Shirley Bryant, Vicki Parker, Jean Walker, Jean Taplin and Sylvia Parr.

Our entertainer was Adrian Broadway, who had so many unusual instruments to play.

He took us on travelling by song through his childhood, starting with walking and then progressing to bikes, cars, boats and planes.

This was illustrated with lovely black and white photographs of his family, a trip down memory lane.

We had a wonderful birthday tea thanks to Jenny Gough, Jean Taplin, Rose Metcalf, Gill Woods and Barbara George.

The lunch club this month will be going to the Pack Saddle.

At our April meeting the speaker will be Ann Sharman, whose subject will be “I went to a wedding in Delhi”.

We meet at Woodcote village hall on the third Wednesday of the month at 2.30pm. Do come and join us.

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