Saturday, 15 August 2020

WI Roundup

WI Roundup

BENSON

OUR March meeting was the occasion of our 92nd annual meeting so, with the help of a training advisor from our neighbouring Warborough and Shillingford WI, we listened to the committee’s annual and financial reports and re-elected committee members for another year.

Brenda Hallett, our president, was re-elected and all continues as before.

Our membership remains constant at 20 and we all felt that we had had a lovely active and successful year.

Following the business, we enjoyed a short, light-hearted quiz and our visitor recited a couple of relevant humorous poems.

Also in March some of our members attended the Oxfordshire Federation’s centenary meeting at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford.

Our president paraded our banner and we enjoyed inspiring talks by pottery designer Emma Bridgewater and astronaut Helen Sharman.

The WI was described as the “Ministry of Decency and Common Sense” by Emma while Helen said that she was very inspired to hear that the Oxfordshire Federation had been going for 100 years.

For our April meeting we shall be joining the RAF Benson Military Wives Choir and in May we will be hearing about Swan Upping and voting on our resolutions.

In the meantime, our local outings organiser has a few things in mind to tempt us and we will be seeing Oxfordshire WI members again at two forthcoming Federation events in our Benson parish hall — a speakers selection day and a talk by Caroline Robb, who was a chief in the royal household.

For more information about Benson WI, please email bensonwi@
oxfordshirewi.co.uk

CAVERSHAM

EVERY year, our March meeting is our annual meeting where we review the arrangements of the group and look to the future.

Warm thanks were given to everyone who has contributed to the group over the past year. Each and every one has been fantastic at helping out where they could. It has been another great year!

We have been fortunate in having an active committee and that is set to continue with extra ladies joining and roles changing.

In particular, our president and treasurer have stepped down from their roles and we thank them both for their dedication over the last two+ years.

At the same time, we elected and welcomed a new president. We look forward to working with her and supporting her leadership of the group.

April’s meeting will be around the topic of digital security. As in all walks of life, keeping ourselves and our information secure is important but how this can be best achieved online is constantly changing.

We will be welcoming an expert in that subject to enlighten us and update us on what can be done today.

Ladies are very welcome to visit our friendly group: your first three visits are free. We meet 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 at Church House in Church Road, Caversham.

For more information, visit https://tinyurl.com/hwzj6zy or search online for “Caversham WI”.

CHAZEY

WHEN Valerie Holden became president of Chazey WI last year she was worried about just one thing.

It wasn’t the standing in front of a crowd, nor the chairing of a committee, nor even being able to bake a good cake.

No, Valerie’s problem was that she was bad with names.

She says: “I just can’t remember them! I first found this out when I was coaching tennis. Whereas all my pupils only had to remember my one name, I had to memorise all of theirs and I was hopeless.”

Now, a year later, Valerie has just been voted in for her second term as president at our March annual meeting so she has had time plenty of time to learn who we all are.

And although she says that first year was a steep learning curve, she has learned one thing in particular.

“I have been most impressed by the kindness and the help the members are prepared to give one another — and I think it has made me more caring.”

Valerie volunteered for the presidency when her predecessor Hilary Morrison fell terminally at the end of 2017.

As one of quite a small committee, she felt she was the only one prepared to take the job on.

As it happens, her first 12 months turned out to be some of the most dramatic in our WI’s history.

We moved our meetings from Highmoor Road Methodist Hall to St Andrew’s Hall in Albert Road and changed both the day and the time of our meetings from Tuesday evening to Friday afternoon. The changes have encouraged several new members to join.

A former top schoolgirl tennis player, Valerie, 74, met husband Alan through their shared love of the sport.

She joined Chazey WI four years ago after standing down as president of Caversham Tennis Club.

Her friend Carol Briscoe was already a member and encouraged her to join. Carol, coincidentally, recently became our treasurer.

Valerie, who has three grown-up sons, says: “I was looking for something new as I suddenly had time on my hands. When I walked into my first meeting I didn’t really know what to expect but I think I found it a bit formal and I did think there seemed to be a lot of rules for what was quite a small group.

“But I soon recognised several of the other members because they had also been on the school run at Caversham Primary School.”

Valerie was soon approached to join the committee and got to know members by asking them for money as she ran the raffle at the start of each meeting.

Now she is enjoying learning to paint in Chazey’s new art group and joining in at our knitting group, which was established when the Royal Berkshire Hospital asked us to knit blankets for patients to use.

Valerie believes the subject groups (we also have a popular book club) add an extra dimension to being a member of the WI. She says: “I enjoy our speakers and our trips but the groups give us an opportunity to get to know each other as individuals in a relaxed atmosphere in a member’s home. And now I know everyone’s name!”

COCKPOLE GREEN

OUR president Adrienne Rance welcomed 24 members to our annual meeting on Wednesday, March 20.

The tables were decorated with spring flowers arranged by Anne Whittaker while Sheila Williams had arranged the flowers for the president’s table.

Adrienne thanked members for their support over the past year.

Highlights of her report included the garden tea party at the home of Diane Bush in June.

Another was a visit to Winston Churchill’s home, Chartwell House in Kent, in August.

This was not forgetting the excellent speakers we have heard over the year.

Treasurer Maureen Bunn read her report and announced our finances remain steady and robust.

Members were then issued with voting slips for a new committee for 2019.

Both the president and secretary Barbara Lloyd were retiring after 12 years and 22 years respectively. Anne Whittaker was also retiring after six years.

The results were as follows: president Diane Bush; secretary Nana Davis; treasurer Maureen Bunn. Committee members: Sheila Williams; Ruth-Mary Vaughan; Judi Rowlands; Helen Perry; Carol Ellis; Selina Avent; Sue Griffiths.

The new committee was proposed and seconded by the members.

Adrienne and Barbara were presented with a card thanking them for their long service and a potted camellia each in recognition of their unstinting work in maintaining the high standard of Cockpole Green WI — membership during Adrienne’s time increased two-fold.

Members relaxed over a delicious tea served by Helen Perry and Liz Cope before settling down to three sets of short quiz questions organised by Judi Rowlands.

Some of the questions had members sighing in frustration as some of the answers took a long time to find!

Our next meeting will take place at Crazies Hill village hall on Wednesday, April 18 at 2.30pm, when the guest speaker will be auctioneer Simon Jones, whose talk is entitled “Our own antiques roadshow”.

If you have any interesting items, do bring them along for evaluation.

GREYS

OUR president Val Mundy welcomed members to our annual meeting on March 20.

It was followed by a talk by Jean Watkins. Treasurer Doreen Howells presented the financial report for 2018/19, which was as detailed and accurate as ever, and was able to announce well-balanced books.

Doreen reminded us of the time she had sleepless nights over a lost 10p — until she located it!

No such problems this year but finances are tight as we are a small WI and the cost of speakers and travel has increased.

Four new members had joined, she said.

Secretary Janet Leaver presented the committee report and praised their hard work.

She reminded us of our excellent speakers, whose subjects included pearls, how to write a novel, the suffragettes, the tragedy of the First World War, how to crochet and the WI’s favourite charity, the Associated Country Women of the World.

She thanked everyone for contributing to the success of the Beechwood Group meeting in October and said she looked forward to our centenary year in 2020.

In her president’s report, Val thanked our loyal members, who continue to support the knit and natter group, the lunch club and, most of all, the monthly meetings.

She appealed for more committee members but to no avail!

She, too, said she was optimistic and enthusiastic about our coming year and reminded members that next year would mark our centenary.

Joyce Robins won the competitions cup.

Our speaker was Jean Watkins on the subject of “My childhood in Greys Green”, which was riveting.

Her grandparents came to Greys Green in the 1880s, and ran the post office and telephone exchange in Forge Cottage.

Her parents moved into the family home in 1932 and she was born in 1933.

Joyce spoke of a time when water had to be hefted inside from a well in the garden and drinking water carried home from the garage yard.

Until 1947 lighting was from oil lamps and candles. Milk was collected twice a day from Greys Green Farm and a Mr Facey travelled round selling clothing and household items. Her uncle Bill Barrett was the village blacksmith and she loved to watch the horses being shod, including the Greys Court donkey!

When the Second World War began and evacuees arrived, she was happy because there were more children to play with.

Her father and Felix Brunner paired up to patrol for the Home Guard and The Green was used as a temporary camp for soldiers waiting to go abroad.

She remembered the two Prisoner of War camps at Kingswood and Nettlebed and walking to the Lamb pub to collect her sweet ration.

After the war village life revolved around the church, the cricket ground and the village hall.

Following her marriage in 1959, she and her husband moved away but she has always kept in touch.

Jean brought many fascinating old photos with her and found more members of her family in the Greys WI scrapbook.

This was an excellent meeting that everyone enjoyed.

Our next meeting will be at Greys village hall on April 17 at 2.30pm when Jean Turton will give a talk about China and demonstrate Chinese brush painting. All are welcome — just turn up.

HAMBLEDEN

OUR March meeting was enjoyed by all.

Our speaker was Simon Jones, from Jones & Jacob, whose talk, “The auctioneer’s lot”, gave us a fascinating insight into the work that goes on behind the scenes at an auction house.

We were delighted by the pictures of some of the treasures that have gone under the hammer.

We thanked Louise Andrews for the lovely poetry workshop held at St Katherine’s Parmoor.

Louise invited members to submit their favourite poem, which they then read on the day.

It was a real treat to hear such a diverse range of work that so obviously meant so much to the people who had chosen them.

April is an incredibly important month for Hambleden WI as we will be celebrating our centenary.

Our meeting will be held as usual on the second Thursday, April 11.

A service of thanksgiving will be followed by a celebration tea in the village hall. We will be proudly displaying our centenary tablecloth which has been created by so many members of our WI.

We will also have the beautiful planter that we are donating to the village hall in place.

A huge thank-you to Suze Bateman, Wendy Darby and Frances Emmett who made the delicious refreshments that we enjoyed at the end of the evening

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 2019 programme, please visit www.hambleden-wi.org

HARPSDEN

WITH Storm Gareth doing its best to disrupt life, the March meeting was held on a blustery but bright afternoon.

Pat Eades presided and welcomed a good number of members. She said the bulb catalogues were available and mentioned how excellent these items are, or is it just that Harpsden gardeners have very green fingers?

The Denman College Federation weekend from November 22 to 24 is still available, with varying prices according to which course is chosen. Fuller details are to be found in News & Views.

Diaries for 2020 should now be ordered at a price of £5.

The Beatles Tribute Band is to give a concert at Exeter Hall, Kidlington, on May 10 at 7.30pm. The cost is £15 so book your “Ticket to Ride” and come and enjoy the evening.

The Beechwood Group is putting on a centenary celebration lunch at Henley town hall on June 11. Members were asked to sign up for this.

Patricia Williams is organising an outing to Frogmore House and Savill Garden on August 7.

There is also a visit to the Odney Club in Cookham on July 15, leaving Henley at 10am. The cost is £10.

Shirley Weyman asked members to pay for their tickets if they had booked to see Private Lives at The Mill at Sonning on August 1.

Pat then commenced the annual meeting by first announcing the winners of the monthly competitions over the past year.

Joan Hoyes topped the board followed by Judith Young and Shirley Weyman and they received pot plants as prizes.

Treasurer Pam Hails explained the financial report in detail. Our finances are healthy and the accounts were duly approved.

Secretary Mary Burton gave the annual report, mentioning the speakers, outings and group meetings from the past year.

The window display at Henley library had been organised by Suzanna Rose and had featured in the Henley Standard.

Pat gave her president’s report, saying that it had been a very busy year, especially as she is now on the Oxfordshire Federation’s board of trustees.

She thanked all the members of the committee individually for their contributions to the smooth running of the institute and also other members who helped in various ways.

She said she had been president for four years and was now standing down from the committee. Di Painter thanked Pat on behalf of all the members and presented her with a bouquet of flowers.

The committee for 2019-2020 comprises Mary Burton, Pam Hails, Ann Lincoln, Jean Newman, Di Painter, Suzanna Rose, Doris Tallon, Shirley Weyman and Judith Young.

A ballot was held for president and Shirley was elected for the coming year to great applause.

With the annual meeting done and dusted, Harpsden member Rose Musselwhite entertained us with her “Life as a Tiller Girl”.

Rose, who hails from Wargrave, started her dancing career at Charvil, learning ballet and tap.

She attended Maidenhead Grammar School and joined La Roche School of Dancing in Maidenhead.

While there she won the South of England competition for ballet.

She completed her dance exams up to grade 8.

After leaving school at 16, Rose joined the Ballet Rambert but the discipline there did not suit her so she auditioned for the Tiller Girls in London and was accepted.

The Tiller Girls were founded by John Tiller in 1885 and after he passed away in 1925, The Firm (as it was called) was taken over by John Smith, assisted by Miss Doris and Miss Barbara. The latter was a strict disciplinarian and was treated with great respect by the girls.

Rose’s stage debut was at the Theatre Royal, Leeds, in Aladdin, starring Norman Evans as Widow Twanky.

The rehearsals were in London where the girls saw much of life from the windows of their lodgings in Soho.

The show opened in Leeds and ran from December to April.

Rose was chosen to understudy the principal girl but never got the chance to play the part.

On Sundays Rose and her friend Wendy would venture into the Yorkshire countryside on a tandem bike they had bought.

Once, when feeling homesick and short of money, Rose and Wendy dressed up as schoolgirls and successfully travelled south to see their families, only having to pay half price for their tickets on the trains.

After the panto season, there was the summer season in Blackpool, with some of the rehearsals being done on the beach, which proved popular with the holidaymakers.

On a Saturday night after the show, the highlight was to pop over the road to the Winter Gardens and dance the night away.

There were many shows to follow Leeds and Blackpool as Rose went on to Bradford and Sheffield in pantomime.

It was all very hard work and her only regret was that she didn’t ever get to dance at the London Palladium.

However, her wish partly came true when she was invited with other Tiller Girls of “a certain age” to attend Bruce Forsyth’s 70th birthday party there and she was able to walk across the stage!

She has many fond memories of her life and she wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Rose married and had a family but continued her theatrical career with the Wargrave Theatre Workshop, acting, dancing, directing and helping with the choreography.

Shirley Weyman gave a hearty vote of thanks to Rose for her entertaining talk.

The next meeting will be at Harpsden village hall on April 10 at 2.30pm when Robin John will speak about “The snows of Kilimanjaro” and the competition will be for a photo of mountains.

HENLEY

THE March meeting was also our annual meeting and we were delighted to see plenty of members there.

We had invited our WI advisor Pat Eades to conduct the election for president and after the votes were in we were pleased to announce that Katie Woodliss-Field would be our president for a third year.

After a run through of any business by Katie, our speaker Jack Ogden was introduced.

Jack is a renowned jewellery historian and the author of several books and articleson the subject and he had come to talk to us about every girl’s best friend — diamonds!

The earliest recorded use was in 500BC in India but it seems we didn't use them in jewellery until around 300BC and even then most likely as rings for diplomatic gifts.

The boys cottoned on to what us ladies love and diamond engagement rings made an appearance in the early 19th century and we have been putting a sparkler on it ever since.

At our next meeting we will have a representative of Urban Cadaver Airscent Dogs talking about search and rescue.

This will be held at the Sacred Heart Church hall, Walton Avenue, off Vicarage Road, on April 15 at 7.30pm. Please come along and join us. For more information, please email hotwi@oxfordshirewi.co.uk

MILL GREEN

ON Wednesday, March 6 Frances Benton, also known as the Pearl Lady, paid a very welcome second visit to Mill Green WI.

She expanded on the talk she gave us in 2017 and entitled her latest effort “Pearls of wisdom”.

Having also given up her career as a musician, this will be her swan song as she intends to retire to her farmhouse in Burgundy where she hopes to establish a holiday venue.

Frances has travelled extensively for 45 years in search of the raw materials for her “hobby”, visiting China, Japan, Tahiti and other Pacific Islands — in fact anywhere where pearls are produced naturally.

Pearls have been popular for centuries but were afforded by the only very wealthy until the 1900s.

Simulated pearls became very popular after the war when our Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, wore her three-stranded pearl necklaces with the new-look clothing and everyone wanted to look like her after a period of rationing of both fashion and jewellery.

Many manufacturers devised a method of producing pearls more affordably by introducing glass beads to the oysters in the formation process and by spraying or painting glass beads.

The simulated pearl industry became immensely popular and prompted the most frequently asked question, how can one tell if pearls are real?

Frances demonstrated several tests used by the professional jewellers on real pearls, some of which were so drastic they should definitely not to be used by the amateur.

However, she gave several tests which were safe. A well-known one was that real pearls feel grainy when drawn across the teeth.

Real pearls also have a distinct rainbow around the circumference when held up to the light whereas simulated pearls feel very smooth and cold.

After telling us of her charitable work to which she donates all the profits from her pearl business, the meeting closed with a sale of necklaces, earrings, bracelets and brooches, the majority of which had been made by Frances.

Tickets for the Wargrave Festival will be available on Saturday, April 27.

Members were reminded that the Mill Green WI bridge afternoon will take place at the St Mary's Church Centre on Wednesday, June 19 (doors open at 2pm). All help would be appreciated.

There is also, of course, the cake stall at the village fete on June 29

The speaker in May will be Nicholas Henderson with a talk entitled “Fulfilment and farce, the lives of Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves”.

There will also be a discussion about the resolutions for the National Federation’s annual meeting.

Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of the month in the Hannen Room on Mill Green at 7.30pm unless otherwise stated.

PEPPARD

MARILYN ORDISH, the Oxfordshire Federation’s archivist, gave us a fascinating insight into the federation over the past 100 years.

We then attended to the business of our annual
meeting.

Irene Lindsay was voted in as president and we thanked Jenny Ward and Sue Frayling Cork, of Sonning Common WI, for acting as tellers.

A delicious tea was provided by Buddy Group 2 and Ann Holt had brought a spring flower decoration.

Pauline Goodard, our past advisor, presented the cups for flower of the month to Ruth Whitaker, Pauline Leicester and Lesley Knight.

With new members on the committee and Irene at the helm, all members look forward to our activities over the next year.

Our next meeting will take place at Peppard war memorial hall on April 10 at 2pm when Roly Richardson will give a talk on China. Visitors are most welcome.

REMENHAM

VICE-PRESIDENT Judy Palmer was in the chair for our March meeting.

After news of members, the business was gone through, including a reminder to bring “pennies for friendship” to cover the 100-year plaques made as part of our Berkshire centenary celebrations.

Littlewick Green WI has invited members from Berkshire to a picnic afternoon on Sunday, June 30 from 2pm to 5pm. All are asked to bring a picnic and their own chairs.

As Judy is our “green” rep, she reminded us to fill in the form on the notice board with all the ways in which we had helped the environment during the month — things like car sharing, not using cling film or plastic bags, using LED light bulbs etc.

There will be several outings put forward for the summer — a visit and tour of the Globe Theatre, a day at Woburn Abbey and a drive through the safari park, or a visit to Kelmscott Manor. Members were asked to vote for their preference.

Our speakers were Angela O’Connell and her husband Graham who are are volunteers with the Berkshire branch of the National Gardens Scheme and the subject of their talk was “Beyond the garden gate”.

Angela started by telling us about the history of the scheme, which was started by William Rathbone of Liverpool in the 1800s. His wife was ill so he hired a nurse, Mary Robinson.

After his wife died he asked Mary to stay on and set up help for the local poor and to teach them the basic rules of health and comfort.

At first, she found this really daunting but Rathbone divided Liverpool into 18 districts and wrote to Florence Nightingale for help to find nurses.

She proposed that he set up a nursing facility to train women as nurses but this needed finance.

Queen Victoria became the president and the idea was formed that the great and the good should open their gardens to the public for 1 shilling a time.

Later, Queen Mary opened Sandringham and Blenheim.

So district nurses were created and supported and the National Gardens Scheme was born.

Before the Second World War, it raised £8,000 per year. It continued throughout the war and when the NHS was formed it was decided to keep fund-raising to support nurses.

The AA was a great supporter and so the yellow book came about.

Graham told us that within 25 miles of Remenham there are 129 gardens one can visit.

Some are very well known, such as Welford House with its snowdrops, which the monks brought to help those suffering from mal a tête.

There is also Frogmore House, Luxmore Gardens at Eton and Danesfield to name but a few.

The O’Connells’ garden at Frimley Green in Surrey won a gold award for an organic garden. Angela then told us about the money the scheme raises each year. In 2018 it amounted to £3 million. This is distributed to various charities, Macmillan, Marie Curie, Hospice UK and many others.

The scheme’s patron is now Prince Charles while Mary Berry is the president.

This was such a lively, fascinating talk and so well presented.

We were all asked to keep visiting and to spread the word, to enjoy the gardens and buy many of the plants they have on sale.

Sheila Constantinidi gave a very heartfelt vote of thanks. Everyone felt it was an inspirational talk.

On a completely different subject, Sheila then told of a letter she had received through Charity Action Aid from a Kenyan woman who had been a female genital mutilation cutter in her village but, thanks to Action Aid, had been shown the dangers and stopped the practice.

A group of local women had saved 90 girls from being cut and they continue to monitor them through school and onwards.

After a delicious tea provided by Carol Wissett and June Shelton and a lot of happy chat, the members were reminded that the next meeting will be at Remenham village hall on April 8 at 2.30pm when all are invited to join in the fun of a games afternoon.

SHIPLAKE

WE gathered on March 20 for the annual meeting but before that president Joan Jolley made some general announcements.

The first of the “100 miles for 100 years” walks had been a great success and would continue on Friday mornings.

The bulb catalogues have arrived. The Beechwood Group meeting will be held at Harpsden on Monday, April 8 and the speaker will be Brian Cummings MBE, who is a Chelsea pensioner.

The first details about the grand centenary lunch Beechwood Group is lanning on June 11 were given.

Members were asked to vote for the candidates for the National Federation’s board.

Then Joan encouraged members to read News & Views and discussed some of the items of interest — the art taster events, a trip to London and a talk by Carolyn Robb.

Sue Lines gave the final arrangements for the trip to the Ardley Energy Recovery Centre.

The trip to Kelmscott was proving very popular with many ladies booked to go. Reminders were given about the Henley Arts Trail on the May bank holiday weekend.

Then Joan began the annual meeting and introduced the committee.

Rosemary Appleby, the treasurer, read the financial report and said that £128 would be going to the Associated Country Women of the World.

The catering report was read by Barbara Rowlett who announced that the new tea rotas would be issued next month.

Ursula Davies read the competition report and the joint winners of the Grace Philips Salver were Susan Partridge and Wendy Channel and second was Viv Ellis who won the Southam Cup.

The winner of the Burge Cup for the ACWW competition was Frances Le Febure.

Sue Lines read the outings report listing the many exciting trips that had been made this year.

Joan then gave the president’s report and reminded members of the Christmas and summer parties, the Beechwood Group meetings and other events that had filled a busy year.

She thanked Lynn Boros for planning and booking the speakers over the past five years and announced that she would be standing down and that Banba Dawson would be taking over this important task.

She thanked all the committee, especially Audrey Simpson, the secretary, and Rosemary Appleby, the treasurer.

She also thanked those members who were not on the committee but who helped on a regular basis, including Joyce Vernon, Ursula Davies and Viv Ellis.

The 10 members of the committee were willing to stand for another year and the nominations were
proposed by Janet Matthews and seconded by Joyce
Vernon.

The members voted unanimously in favour and the annual meeting was closed.

Janet Matthews has been archiving the old committee minutes and read out some of the most amusing items. It was quite surprising to hear some of the rules that were in existence in the Twenties.

The usual excellent tea was enjoyed by members and guests. The tea hostesses were Wendy Channel and Jill Irwin.

The winner of the flower of the month competition was Pauline Watkins with a stunning branch of mimosa and the winner of the competition for a dressed doll was Ursula Davies. The speaker at the April meeting will be Peter Halman who will be talking about the River Thames from Oxford to Windsor.

More details about Shiplake WI are on the village website. Visitors are always welcome.

SONNING COMMON

OUR March meeting included our annual meeting, which marks the end of our WI year.

Jenny Ward, our president, welcomed 47 members. Apologies for absence were noted.

Jenny conducted a short business report which included the forthcoming Beechwood centenary celebration lunch to be held at Henley town hall in June.

Members were invited to add their names to the list at the information table if they wanted to apply for a place. If numbers exceeded places available, there would be a ballot.

We then sang Jerusalem.

Our treasurer Anne Croxson gave her financial report and copies of the audited financial statement for the year ending December 2018 had been circulated. This confirmed that our accounts are in a good order and in a healthy position.

Our fund-raising continues to support our finances and local good causes.

The report was proposed, seconded and accepted.

Secretary Sue Hedges gave her annual report, which was a very enjoyable and comprehensive account of the exciting things our WI achieved over the past year.

We had eight speakers over the year who had informed, entertained and amused us. Alison Bishop, our programme secretary, had worked very hard to find such excellent speakers and such a varied programme.

Other highlights included the success of our craft, darts and Scrabble groups. The craft group had won a red rosette and best in show cup at the Henley Show in September.

Members had knitted baby hats, blankets and teddies for hospitals and charities. In October more than 100 knitted poppies were attached to a memorial wreath in recognition of a local soldier, Fred Slough, who was killed in the Falklands War.

A members’ day also took place in October. This is when members come for either a morning session, afternoon session or both.

This year our morning speaker was Tom Fort, a local author, and in the afternoon we were entertained by Rosa Maria Reed, a flamenco dancer accompanied by her guitarist Matthew Read. It was a fabulous day and both speakers were excellent.

Our summer outing was a wonderful day out organised efficiently, as always, by Alison Bishop.

We went by coach to Frogmore House at Windsor. The house, which has a very interesting history, is owned by the royal family and is used frequently by them for entertaining guests and, from time to time, to live.

It only opens to the public twice a year, so we felt very honoured to have this opportunity.

In the afternoon we went on to Savill Garden. Alison had organised a real treat of a day for us and the sun shone too.

Our monthly village coffee mornings continue to thrive and Jenny Ward’s car boot sales of pre-loved items all boost our funds.

A very large donation of food stuffs and toiletries was collected by our members and delivered to Nomad in Henley for distribution to those in need.

The president then presented her annual report.

She thanked everyone who had contributed in any way towards another successful year.

The committee was thanked for their support, enthusiasm and valued contribution. Jenny gave a special thank you to Sue Hedges, our secretary, who was standing down from the committee.

Sue had served as secretary for five years and her continuity and guidance were invaluable. Her energy and enthusiasm was infectious and knew no bounds! During her term of office, our full membership has now increased to 71.

Jenny presented Sue with an Oxfordshire Federation centenary mug.

Jenny also thanked Anne Croxson who has been a member for 10 years and took on the role of treasurer soon after joining.

She has been in charge of our finances ever since, a task not taken on lightly.

Anne’s efficiency has kept our records in order and in a healthy financial position.

A gift of flowers was given to Anne while Jenny thanked her for agreeing to remain as treasurer for another year.

Jo Denslow gave the competition results for the darts group and the trophies were presented.

Evening matches — most doubles out winner: Sue Green; highest score: Lesley Davis. Lunchtime matches — most doubles out: Yvonne Wood; highest score: Jo Denslow.

The monthly competition cup winner for the year was Lillian Dewar. The flower of the month annual winner was Jenny Ward. Once again trophies were presented.

The voting for the new committee and president then took place.

The new committee voted in en bloc is Anne Croxson, Jo Denslow, Carol Townhill, Jane Handley, Rosemary Greeley and Jenny Ward.

Jenny was re-elected as our president for another year. She thanked everyone for their votes and promised to do her best.

Members were then treated to another of Beverley Porteous’s challenging quizzes. The winner, scoring a magnificent 23 out of 30, was Lillian Dewar. It was lots of fun, as usual.

Alison Bishop gave the vote of thanks to Beverley for being quizmaster.

The raffle then took place and thanks were given to Rose Prynn and Wendy Dean for organising and running our raffle and tombola tables throughout the year.

The flower of the month winner for March was Janet Evans with Sue Hedges second and Jenny Ward third.

Jenny closed the meeting and thanked everyone for coming.

SOUTH STOKE

ON a very wet and windy March day, we met in the village hall for our annual meeting.

This month we started with a “pot luck lunch” of homemade soup, rolls and a variety of fruit crumbles and cream.

It was definitely comfort food and just what was needed on such a miserable day.

After lunch we held the annual meeting.

Megan Joslyn, our treasurer, read the financial statement and Eve Thynne, secretary and vice-president, gave the committee’s report.

Rita Mann thanked the committee for their support last year.

We were sad to lose Margaret Boorne from the committee and she was thanked for all the help she has given.

We were pleased to welcome Pam Seymour on to the new committee.

Following the meeting, Ann Marshall spoke about an occasion when she and her husband were entertained by the Queen on the Royal Yacht Britannia. We finished the afternoon with a raffle.

STOKE ROW

OUR annual meeting in March was well attended.

Reports from the past year were given by the treasurer, secretary and president who thanked the committee and the band of monthly helpers that keep us running smoothly with fun and friendship.

We discussed a small change to our Denman bursary rules, which will help save some money as we are just about breaking even at present.

We do a lot of catering fundraising and have more bookings for next year so our balance will go up but so do the speaker fees.

The flower stem prizes for the year were awarded and birthday posies given out.

The existing committee and president agreed to stand again so we expect no changes for the coming year.

Dates were given out for the popular extra clubs, involving table games, books, swimming, walking and dining.

Tickets were issued for several members to attend the Oxfordshire Federation’s annual meeting and lunch at the Kassam
Stadium. Other trips will be taken and more were signed up for.

Our netball evenings are proving to be great fun as well as keeping us fit and it is nice that some members from other WIs have joined us too.

Some of us will be going to the group meeting at Harpsden and the centenary celebration lunch in June.

Two members who won Denman bursaries last year spoke about their efforts and showed us the results of their craft, one a stained glass picture and one a papercutting of an owl. Very impressive artwork and good encouragement for others to give Denman a go.

Our speaker told tales, historic anecdotes, quotes and misquotes form past prime ministers of all parties.

An overflowing table of supper delights proved too much to finish but was enjoyed by speaker and members alike.

We now look forward to starting over again with the new season from next month.

WATLINGTON

WE held our annual meeting in March.

As Kath Gomm was retiring as president after six years, Maggie Bruce thanked her for her wonderful support of our WI over the years.

Two other members of the committee were retiring. Many thanks to Isobel and Margaret for their work and many, many thanks to Kath for helping our WI to continue to thrive.

We welcomed on to the committee Di Young, Stephanie Craddock and Ann Miller, with Dawn Matthews agreeing to be our new president.

After the business of the evening, Maggie Bruce held an excellent, if manic, beetle drive, which entailed lots of shaking of dice, strange looking drawings, and moving from table to table.

Our next meeting will be on April 10 when we will have Caz Hitchcock talking about “Keeping mobile through yoga”.

In May we will have Emma Carroll from the Florence Nightingale Hospice Charity and in June we will have our summer garden party.

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.

WHITCHURCH HILL

OUR March meeting was our annual meeting. Twenty-five members joined president Frances Strange and there were six apologies.

Two members of our committee, Jane Kennard and Denyse Williams, have resigned. Our sincere thanks were given to them both and we are pleased to know that they will continue to offer assistance where necessary.

Barbara Ayres and Susan Dryden have joined the committee and all were proposed and elected en bloc.

Our honorary treasurer reported that we now have a healthy bank balance.

In the absence of any further nominations for president, Frances Strange was willing to continue for a further year and was re-elected unanimously.

The expression of thanks to the president and committee was given by Barbara Ayres.

Birthday greetings and flowers were given to Sue Matthews and Jill Latch. The flower of the month cup and a gift voucher were won by Liz Gibson for her entries over the past year.

The March winner of the flower competition was president Frances with a
hellebore.

Our annual bursary, which provides part of the cost of a course at Denman College, was won by Jane Kennard.

Following the meeting and distribution of prizes, our member Joyce Brannan gave a fascinating talk about the two years she and her husband spent living in Beijing. This was followed by a quiz.

Members ran the cake and coffee morning at the Art Café in March and realised more than £235. After expenses, the balance will be donated to the Reading Women’s Refuge, together with the proceeds of the book sale at the meeting.

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

In early April we shall have our 66th annual birthday lunch and at our business meeting on the third Tuesday we will be welcoming 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 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 1696.

WOODCOTE

THE members were welcomed to the annual meeting on a bright spring day.

Celebrating a birthday this month was Ann Rossiter.

We had a delicious tea thanks to Rose Metcalf, Edna Smith, Betty Thomas and Hazel Tagg — all that jam and cream!

The winner of the best blooms of the year was Carole Shelley-Allen who received a gardening voucher as a prize.

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

Ann Larden, our president, has retired after three years and we thank her for all her hard work and cheerfulness. Patricia Solomons is our new president.

Gillian Seymour will also be stepping down from being tea hostess, ably assisted by Betty Thomas. We thank them both for keeping our plates and tea cups filled.

We welcome Sally Lambert and Raye Roberts on to the committee.

After the elections, we had a beetle drive — it was a very upmarket beetle this year with wings. We thank Gill Woods for organising the fun.

Our May meeting will be our resolutions meeting. We meet at Woodcote village hall on the third Wednesday of the month at 2.30pm. Please come and join us.

More News:

Latest video from

VIDEO: Tributes paid after rugby player's death
 

POLL: Have your say