Saturday, 15 August 2020

WI Roundup

WI Roundup


MEMBERS met on Wednesday, May 15 and welcomed local man Nick Brazil who gave a most interesting talk on the practice of swan upping.

This is an annual census of swans that takes place on the River Thames between Sunbury and Abingdon.

Nick said there are 26 places on the river where this occurs over a period of five days during the third week of July. These include Benson where it usually draws quite a crowd.

Swan upping is a centuries old tradition whereby mute swans are caught, ringed and counted.

The main purpose of the census today is for conservation, preservation, education and heritage purposes.

Ownership of the swans is shared by the Sovereign and the Worshipful Companies of Vintners and Dyers.

Being a keen photographer, Nick’s presentation was superbly illustrated.

Following our speaker, members discussed the two resolutions to go forward to the National Federation’s annual meeting in Bournemouth this month — “Don’t fear the smear” and “A call against the decline in local bus services”.

Support for both was agreed unanimously and our decisions were sent through to our local delegate to take to the meeting.

During a break for refreshments, members looked at what was on offer in the way of local and national events.

In June our members will be visiting the local Island Donkey Sanctuary, the Wallingford Corn Exchange for a showing of Romeo and Juliet and Dorchester for a play.

Our next main meeting will be on Wednesday, June 19 when the theme of the evening will be gardening with a talk by the manager of our local garden centre.

For enquiries about Benson WI, please email


FOR our May meeting, we discussed the two National Federation resolutions for this year.

We felt that both, saving local bus services and encouraging women to attend smear (cervical screening) tests, were valid and that we could help in our own community. We look forward to hearing the national decision.

Following this, we enjoyed our annual group meeting, this time chaired by Sonning Glebe WI.

We shared the evening with ladies from around the area and listened to stories about how starting a career in the legal profession has changed over the past 50 years.

At June’s meeting we will welcome a local professional to give us hints and tips on maintaining good posture in order to benefit from the strength and confidence that good posture can bring.

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 nearby parking and a lift to the first floor meeting room at Church House, Church Road, Caversham.

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


ONE of the many pleasures of being a WI member is mixing with women who have followed a wide variety of different careers.

Here at Chazey, for example, our membership includes, among others, bankers, solicitors, teachers, nurses, midwives, engineers, secretaries and journalists — all of us enjoying each other’s company and learning from each other’s experiences.

It’s said that politics and religion are the two topics one should never bring up in polite company, right?

Well, after three years of Brexit mayhem you can’t blame us for giving politics a miss — but we did pick religion as the theme for our May meeting.

The religion was Judaism and the speaker was one of our newest members who just happens to have recently retired as a rabbi.

She chose to explain Judaism by showing us 10 objects significant to followers of the Jewish faith the world over and many had a personal story attached.

Ironically, our meetings are held on Friday, which is when the Jewish sabbath, or Shabbat, begins.

From sunset it is the Jewish day of rest and as its observance often entails refraining from any work activities we have to thank our member for making this exception for us.

Shabbat always features the best meal of the week, which in days gone by would have meant fluffy white bread instead of the hard, black variety eaten on the rest of the week.

Traditionally, meat would be served instead of just vegetables. Candles are lit and the whole family are expected to eat together.

Our member’s family like to include a bottle of sweet red wine from Israel. Luckily for us, she had brought a bottle with her and our move last year from the Methodist Hall to St Andrew’s Church hall meant we could all sample some!

She also showed us a small replica scroll of the Torah, the first part of the Jewish bible and the basis of Judaism, and by using examples from her own family, she explained how its meanings can be interpreted in different ways.

There were so many questions from members at the end of this illuminating talk that our speaker only just managed to find time to eat the tea and cake that everyone else was enjoying.

This was just one example of the fascinating subjects our members get to learn about and visitors are always welcome. Care to join us?

We have no meeting in June because of our summer outing to Mottisfont, the National Trust former priory in Hampshire, but we’ll be back on July 5 when we’ll be learning how to declutter our lives.

You will find us at St Andrew’s Hall in Albert Road, Caversham Heights, at 2.30pm on the first Friday of the month. To contact us, email or find us on Facebook.


THE speaker at our May meeting was Mary Gregory, who has responsibility for the Associated Country Women of the World at the Oxfordshire Federation’s office.

She gave us a very detailed talk on the history of the charity, which was started in 1933 with the aim of empowering women, providing water for all and improving subsistence farming.

Its remit has moved on and now ACWW supplies funds for education and general projects.

The Pennies for Friendship scheme has raised £2.5 million since 1936.

Here at Cleeve we vote for competition entries by putting pennies against our particular favourites, which raises a reasonable amount each month.

Member Krys Knox sold a variety of her homemade jams and we received a donation to our funds from the proceeds.

The two resolutions for the National Federation’s annual meeting — “Don’t fear the smear” and “A call against the decline in local bus services” — were discussed and passed unanimously.

Two bursaries were awarded for courses at Denman College.


ON Wednesday, May 15 president Diane Bush welcomed members and pointed out the appearance of the Cockpole Green WI banner.

Our speaker was Phillippa Chan, headteacher of Crazies Hill Primary School, whose talk was entitled “The history of the village school”. She was accompanied by pupils Jocelyn, Sophie, Emma and Leah from year 5, who had enjoyed researching the history of their Church of England school.

Jocelyn told us that there had been a school on the same site in Crazies Hill since 1861.

Thanks to the efforts of local people, it was opened on July 16 at a cost of £752 and two pence.

One hundred years later, it was replaced at a cost of £16,000.

In 1989, with help of the parent teacher association, another classroom was built.

Due to growing demand, a third classroom was added in 1997, which cost £80,000 and was funded by the local education authority. A fourth classroom followed in September 2001.

The girls learned from an old map that teachers once lived at the school and even had their own garden.

Sophie spoke about the punishment book from 1932.

All schools had to keep a log. It showed that corporal punishment was relatively common and punishment was one or two strokes on the hand — either light or hard. Untruthfulness, disobedience and fighting were just some of the reasons noted.

Corporal punishment was banned in 1986.

Nowadays, the children have lots of rewards to encourage good behaviour. If rules are broken, they miss playtime and, if more serious, Mrs Chan contacts their parents to discuss their behaviour.

Emma found some log books dating back to 1873 and up to 1980. They contained details of visitors and special events held at the school.

The church inspection of 1934 talked about their impression of the school as follows: “It was a pleasure to visit this school. As usual, it maintains its delightful family atmosphere. Devotional tone was excellent and very pleasant singing. Infants class very good indeed and the middle group showed how earnestly the teacher had undertaken what must have been an additional labour. The senior boys and girls were, as I expected, thoroughly well grounded bright and responsive.”

Also mentioned were the usual school subjects, such as reading, history and recitation.

Another quote: “Handwriting is neat and much of the English composition is sensible and accurate. The seniors have quite an exceptional knowledge of wildflowers and birds, their physical exercises and country dancing are very good indeed. A word of praise should also go to the sensible way in which the needlework lessons were handled, especially in the mending of clothes.”

This made members smile.

A vote of thanks was given by Maureen Fennemore, who praised the children for their excellent talk.

During a delicious tea served by Sue Griffiths and Hilary Kinnersley, the girls mingled with members and showed them photos of how differently the children dressed for school in 1912, the 1920s and in 1945.

They also passed round the log book and register with entries that were neatly made with an ink pen. Today the computer has taken over.

Since this year is the centenary of the Berkshire WI, there was an invitation for two members of each institute to attend the centenary afternoon tea at Easthampstead Park on Wednesday, August 14.

To everyone’s surprise, a ballot box appeared (not been seen for years) inviting members to participate in a vote.

The lucky winners were Carole Ellis and Ruth-Mary Vaughan.

The next event is our annual garden meeting, which will take place at Diane Bush’s delightful home in Crazies Hill on Wednesday, June 19 at 2.30pm.


ON the dazzling sunny afternoon of May 15, 18 members and two visitors were welcomed to Greys village hall by our president Val Mundy, who warned us that our meeting needed to be very busy.

Two members had sent their apologies. Val spoke of the recent sad death of Alma Headland, a much-loved Greys member.

Merryl reminded us that 2020 will be our centenary year as the first ever meeting of Greys WI took place in the village school on March 22, 1920.

The Greys WI centenary committee will be chaired by Jane Pryce.

Val announced that we will have a bric-a-brac table at the War Memorial Hall in Gallowstree Road, Peppard, on June 8 from 11am to 4pm. She appealed for both sellable items and volunteers to set up the table from 10.30am and to form a rota for the day.

All profits will go to the centenary fund appeal. In common with all WIs, we then discussed the two 2019 WI resolutions to go forward to the National Federation’s annual meeting in Bournemouth this month.

The first was: “A call against the decline in local bus services” and calls on the Government and local authorities to increase subsidies and work in partnership with bus companies.

This resolution was strongly supported by our members, who wished to add that rural areas were very deprived of regular bus services.

The second was: “Don’t fear the smear”. Cervical screening saves about 5,000 lives a year yet attendance is at its lowest for a decade.

The resolution urges members to attend routine screening, take action to raise awareness of the importance of screening and address barriers to attendance.

Our members felt that the NHS is currently tackling this problem and it would be wiser to support this.

Our decision was to be passed to our local delegate.

Our speakers were Tracy and Darren Curtis, who, aptly for Mental Health Week, talked about “Anxiety and depression — can we help ourselves?”

Tracy was a bubbly, if anxious, child with a strong need to please, who had a “meltdown” when only 15 years old.

Her family, like many others, never discussed this, so it continued to rumble away under the surface.

Of course, it emerged repeatedly and Tracy continued to suffer episodes of anxiety/depression. She saw many GPs, psychotherapists and so on, all of whom were very nice and tried to help, but often with mind-numbing medication.

She married Darren and had two children but felt that although she seemed bubbly and cheerful on the outside, there was a desperate black hole inside.

Darren became self-employed to give him the flexibility to help his wife and they tried many “solutions”.

Eventually the couple chanced on a Richard Wilkins consciousness course and gradually they realised that her negative internal voices — fear, criticism and complaint — were a remnant of a primitive system of warnings, there to keep you safe.

This negative internal voice, often from challenging childhood experiences, had established a rule base, which Tracy calls a script.

Now, however, while she still hears it, by being conscious that she is the observer of the negative internal dialogue, she doesn’t have to react negatively.

Thus the couple have both come to understand and consciously choose their feelings associated with those thoughts.

We all have a negative internal voice (script) but with practice, it can become an opinion we no longer value.

It’s difficult to summarise the Curtises’ talk but I must stress that they were both very funny, honest, courageous and frank.

It can still be very difficult for some people to talk about their mental health issues, despite statistics showing that one in eight people at some point in their lives has experienced suicidal thoughts.

It is refreshing to hear sufferers speak out. We learnt to focus on the positive side of life — negative things may happen, but we have a choice of how we feel about them.

Darren is an international youth coach in schools and colleges with more than 10 years’ experience. He and Tracy now run their own one day consciousness courses to help fellow local sufferers in Reading, Maidenhead and Henley. For more information, call 0118 329 0119 or visit

The flower of the month competition was won by Jane Pryce.

Thanks to Joyce Robins and Josee Leadley for providing a delicious tea.

Our next meeting will be at Greys Green village hall on June 19 at 2.30pm when Alan Copeland LRPS will give us a humorous illustrated talk entitled “Curiosities of East Sussex”. Everybody is welcome, so come and join us.


THIS year the National Federation has decided to put forward two resolutions to allow members to work on a breadth of issues.

So our May meeting was used to listen to presentations and then discuss and vote on the resolutions, which are “Don’t fear the smear” and “A call against the decline in local bus services”.

A huge thank-you to Sheila Greene and Sally-Ann Roberts for all their hard work in preparing, presenting and leading discussions on both topics.

Thanks to Wendy Vye and Maureen Cleary who made the delicious refreshments that we enjoyed at the end of the evening.

Forthcoming events include a visit to Chenies Manor on June 26.

Our next meeting will be held on Thursday, June 13 when we will welcome Julia Miles with a talk entitled “Ragbag and cocktails — 28 years abroad as a diplomatic wife”.

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


IT was a thundery, showery afternoon for the May meeting.

President Shirley Weyman took members through the business and made the draw for the lucky ladies who will attend the Beechwood Group lunch on June 11 to celebrate the centenary of the Oxfordshire WI.

Reminders were given to order next year’s calendars and the last chance to order bulbs for next year.

The annual review of the WI was available for all to peruse.

In News & Views there was a report on the Associated Country Women of the World projects and detailed information on the special Oxfordshire Federation weekend at Denman College from November 22 to 24.

There will be an art taster event at Benson on Thursday, June 13 and a floral art demonstration at Denman on Monday, July 15.

The reading and Sunday lunch groups continue to flourish.

Shirley announced that Judith Young had agreed to be vice-president for the coming year.

Di Painter was in charge of the national raffle, for which there were some very worthwhile prizes.

Suzanna Rose took members through the resolutions to be put before all WI members at the National Federation’s annual meeting.

The resolution concerning the decline in local bus
services urged the Government to increase the subsidies and to work in partnership with bus companies, enabling an adequate provision of services. This motion was passed in favour.

The second resolution concerned urging members to attend cervical screenings and this was also passed in favour of the motion.

These results were to be forwarded to the delegate representing Harpsden WI at the meeting.

It was then time for some lighter moments.

Nicola Stevenson, the granddaughter of a member who had spoken at a recent meeting herself, entertained members with her talk on her holiday in Jordan.

Nicola has a passion for travel and photography and she was able to showcase this with her PowerPoint presentation.

She commenced her journey in Amman, then went to Aqaba on the Red Sea, which is an important meeting place for Muslims.

Wadi Rum was her next port of call where she camped in the desert in the freezing cold at night but with the benefit of a brilliant starlit sky.

Then it was on to the rose red Holy City of Petra, which was rediscovered in 1812. Nicola floated in the salty Dead Sea, 480m below sea level.

After visiting Mt Nebo and Madaba, it was then back to her starting point.

Nicola and her friend had been made most welcome by locals during their trip and it had been a very touching experience.

She was thanked for her talk by Ann Lincoln.

The competition for a holiday snap was won by Joan Hoyes and Rosemary Musselwhite (Nicola’s grandma), who tied for first place.

The next meeting will be on June 12 when Dr Penny Billyeald will be speaking on “The four queens of crime”. The competition will be for a bookmark.

Harpsden village hall is the venue and the meeting will commence at 2.30pm. We look forward to seeing all members and especially visitors then.


OUR May meeting was well attended.

Katie, our president, welcomed everyone and talked through any business, including how well our cake stall did at the Henley May Fayre. We sold out!

Our guest speaker was Harriet Chettleburgh from The Right Fit who talked about ow to keep fit and healthy without setting foot in the gym.

She spoke about how to keep active — move well and move often — and to eat well. Have good food in the house and you will! This was definitely inspiring.

Next month’s meeting will be on Friday, June 21 when we will have our Oxfordshire Federation centenary celebration.

We meet at Sacred Heart Church hall in Walton Avenue, off Vicarage road. Please come along and join us.

For more information, email


“FULFILMENT and farce” was the title of the talk given by Rev Dr Nicholas Henderson to members on May 1.

This was his second visit to deliver the second of three talks on the wives of Henry VIII.

On this occasion, it was the lives of Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves — the king’s third and fourth wives — that Dr Henderson focused on.

We joined the scene in 1536 when Catherine of Aragon died and Henry and Anne Boleyn paraded through the court in celebratory yellow.

Although a crowned queen, Catherine was not afforded a queen’s funeral but that of a princess.

After requesting a shilling from all the Catherines in the land to raise funds, she was buried in Peterborough Abbey, now Peterborough Cathedral, without her final request to see her daughter Elizabeth being honoured.

Anne became pregnant but miscarried a male child in shock after Henry was unseated from his horse in a jousting match and was unconscious for several hours.

After this accident, the King’s character changed completely. Anne fell out with Henry’s right-hand man Thomas Cromwell and Henry fell out of love with Anne.

Trumped-up charges of adultery were levied with the help of Thomas Cromwell and she was beheaded on May 20 — the same day that Henry was betrothed to Jane Seymour. The marriage took place 10 days later.

Jane was never crowned queen but was much loved by Henry and very popular with the people. She was home-loving, very conservative and modest.

Jane managed to restore harmony between Henry and his two daughters. Henry had a son, Henry Fitzroy, by one of his two mistresses, Bessie Blount, but he died after contracting typhoid after swimming in the River Thames.

Jane produced a son, Edward, after a very difficult birth in 1537 but, sadly, she died immediately afterwards.

After two years and with the King not having a new bride in mind, Cromwell decided something must be done to protect the country from the turmoil in Europe and decided a dynastic alliance between England and another European country would be advantageous.

The Duke of Cleves, a member of the Lutheran League of Princes, would prove an important link for the Reformation in England and Cromwell decided to suggest Henry married with the Duke’s second daughter Anne.

As Henry wanted to see Anne before he decided, he dispatched Holbein to paint a portrait of her. This proved pleasing and they married but the marriage did not last long.

Anne was retired from court and settled in Hever Castle where she was styled the King’s beloved sister.

Anne lived the life of an English country gentlewoman and lived to see Mary on the throne.

Cromwell was beheaded for his serious miscalculation in matchmaking.

Jan French gave the vote of thanks and we look forward to Dr Henderson’s next visit to complete the third part of his talk.

The talks are delivered with a multitude of photographs, anecdotes and enormous good humour.

At our meeting on July 3 the speaker will be Tiffany Howard talking about care of the mature skin. Meetings are held in the Hannen Room, Mill Green, Wargrave, on the first Wednesday of each month at 7.30pm unless otherwise stated.


AFTER attending to business matters, we discussed and voted for the resolutions with enthusiasm.

Group 4 provided a delicious tea and group 2 the raffle.

Beth Fossett organised flower of the month and we all joined in a short, interesting resolution game provided by our president Irene Lindsay.

Next month we will hold our garden meeting in Peppard War Memorial Hall when visitors from other women’s institutes will join us for a special afternoon to celebrate our centenary.


WITH our president Daphne Austen in the chair, our May meeting got off to a good start with 17 members present. Pat Sly was welcomed back after a stay in hospital following her recent hip operation.

After the usual business and the dates for events over the summer, which included many invitations from other WIs in the Thames Group, we heard a report on the Berkshire spring council meeting held at Reading University.

This was an excellent meeting with a very interesting speaker who had saved children from various war zones — Sarajevo and Syria to name just two.

The Thames Group meeting held at Knowl Hilll was a good get-together with a talk by Paul Baxter on “The challenges of building the London Eye” followed by an excellent tea.

The 100 bags of toiletries we made for emergency cases who arrive at the accident and emergency department at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading will be presented soon.

These were made up by our members as part of our centenary project. A thank-you poster from the hospital was displayed on our notice board.

Remenham WI came second in the Elizabeth Bell photographic competition, Daphne and members were congratulated for all their efforts in getting the album together.

Members were then asked to vote on two resolutions to be put forward to the National Federation’s annual meeting this month.

One was “A call against the decline in local bus services” and the other was “Don’t fear the smear”.

After some hearty discussion, both resolutions were passed favourably and unanimously.

Daphne then introduced our speaker Shirley Pearce whose talk was called “Understanding dementia”. She originally trained as an occupational therapist but now explains the many problems for friends and relations trying to deal with and care for those near and dear with dementia.

She explained that Alzheimer’s is a disease, whereas dementia is not, but it is more feared than cancer.

Those of the older generation who forget names etc are not suffering from dementia — this is just a problem of old age!

Shirley told us that in the early stages those diagnosed feared their wellbeing was being threatened, that they personally didn’t matter and were worried about making mistakes.

She gave us instances of how we might help — just be friendly, don’t ask questions, cut out contradiction and don’t ever argue. Also please always remember to give both patients and carers hope.

Shirley has set up a charity called Understanding Dementia, does training in care homes and has written a book. She handed out leaflets with ideas on how to help carers.

Most of our members had experience of relatives or friends suffering with this cruel state, so there was a lot of lively discussion over tea, which was beautifully presented by Carol Wissett and her team of helpers.

The next meeting will be held at Remenham village hall on June 10 at 2.30pm.

Do come and see what we are about — you would be most welcome.


PRESIDENT Arlene Riley welcomed members and visitors) to our meeting on May 1, a rather cool spring afternoon.

She began by telling us that a record of the April meeting was available for all to see.

Our first business of the day was to vote on the two resolutions being put forward to the National Federation’s annual meeting this month.

One was “A call against the decline in local bus services” and the other was “Don’t fear the smear”.

Both resolutions were

Ryszarda Palarczyk, acting as stand-in secretary in Mary Robinson’s absence, drew our attention to a climate lobby at Westminster on June 26.

Also mentioned was the Associated Country Women of the World’s Link Report for 2018-2019 and an invitation to a WI centenary afternoon tea at Easthampstead Park on Wednesday, August 14 as no committee members are available to attend.

A Royal Berkshire Hopsital thank-you poster was circulated in conjunction with the raffle. It was also announced that Pat Butler is to hold a fund-raising coffee morning at her house on Saturday, June 22 from 10am to noon, proceeds of which will be for the hospital packs.

We were later told that the proceeds from the raffle at the May meeting would also go towards these packs. Thank you, Ryszarda, for your input.

Treasurer Judith Sharp announced that in April the sales table made £23.30 and the raffle £21. Thanks to everyone who bought raffle tickets and supported the sales table. Keep it up!

Arlene announced the names of those members with birthdays in May and Margaret Seal gave out the buttonholes.

The Scrabble group met twice in May, the book club met at Barbara Wood’s house, the cinema group went to see Red Joan and Ladies that Lunch went to Zizzi in Reading.

Members were asked to add their names to a list to make cakes for the birthday meeting.

Finally, the date of the Milestones Museum trip is now confirmed as Tuesday, July 9. The cost is £12 for concessions and £13 full price.

Arlene then introduced our speaker Sally McCleary, of the charity Smart Works, who spoke about how it helps women to get back into work.

For various reasons, some women may never have had a job while others may wish to return to work.

Counselling sessions are also provided.

Thank you, Sally, for making this such an interesting talk and may the good work continue.

Following the talk came the usual tea and biscuits followed by the raffle.

The next meeting was to be on June 5 and was to be our birthday meeting.

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


JOAN JOLLEY, our president, warmly welcomed two visitors to the May 15 meeting and surprised members by saying how wonderful she thought the singing of Jerusalem had been!

She told the meeting that the Friday walk was still going well, with a group of ladies meeting each week and having coffee at the Baskerville afterwards.

The miles they achieve will go towards the 100-mile centenary target.

Stephanie Blake won a bursary for a two-night course at Denman College and had chosen a course on Middle Eastern cookery. We will look forward to sampling her accomplishments.

Final details were announced for the Beechwood Group’s centenary lunch at Henley town hall. Sixteen ladies from Shiplake WI have been invited and they will be helping with the table flower arrangements.

HOT (Henley) WI have invited two Shiplake members to attend their centenary tea party.

Joan announced that it was the final day for bulb orders and that orders for WI calendars were being taken.

She then pointed out some of the interesting items in News & Views, including the art and craft exhibition at Didcot and the art taster event at Benson.

She also asked members to look at the catering lists for the summer party and to add their names.

Sue Lines then gave details about forthcoming trips to Cliveden and Sandhurst. She also reported that the trips to Kelmscott Manor and Greys Court had both been a great success.

The discussion on the resolutions for the National Federation’s annual meeting in Bournemouth was led by Janet Matthews, who had done a lot of research to enable members to have a full understanding of both resolutions. She was to attend the meeting for the final voting.

She started with some historical details about how the resolutions are submitted and decided upon.

Shiplake WI has had two resolutions accepted in the past — one about illegal residential caravan sites and one about the need for a higher selection of British goods in our shops.

The first resolution was to consider the massive decline in bus services over the last decade, particularly in rural areas — the Federation calls on the Government and local authorities to increase subsidies and to work with bus companies to improve the situation.

Janet gave us some interesting facts and figures and we discussed how the decline in buses can impact people’s lives, including being cut off from essential medical and social services.

We also discussed bus passes, pollution, car ownership and online deliveries, all of which we thought were relevant.

The resolution was passed unanimously. The second resolution was about the fact that the take-up of cervical screening is at its lowest level for a decade — the Federation urges members to attend routine screening and help to raise awareness of its importance.

Janet explained who was eligible, how important the tests were to prevent cervical cancer deaths and the reasons why many women do not attend cervical smear tests.

This resolution was also passed unanimously.

An excellent tea was enjoyed by members and guests with Paula Benham and Susan Partridge the tea hostesses.

The winner of the flower of the month competition was Margaret Bullock with a beautifully scented, pale yellow rose.

The competition for a display of five leaves was won jointly by Jean Bucket and Ursula Davies.

The speaker at our June meeting will be Peter Hague who will be talking about “Cliveden — the power, politics and the scandal”.

Visitors are always welcome to out meetings. More details about Shiplake WI are available on the village website.


MAY was a busy month for members.

Members hosted the Sonning Common monthly coffee morning. Rachel, the local Age UK representative, is always there with her stand ready to answer any questions and give out leaflets and friendly, helpful advise to anyone who needs it.

Two WI members took part in the Big Knit and presented Rachel with a number of knitted hats which the Innocent drinks company will place on its smoothie bottles so that with each one sold, Age UK receives 25p.

Knitters all round the UK make thousands of little hats, raising a considerable sum for the charity.

WI members also help Rachel at the monthly film afternoons.

The craft group, Scrabble group and darts players all met.

At the members’ meeting held on May 16, president Jenny Ward gave a warm welcome to 41 members.

Pam Gross, last year’s winner of the Sonning Common Denman bursary, gave a glowing report on her first residential visit and how much she had enjoyed a silver clay jewellery course.

Pam was very pleased with the earrings and cuff links she had made.

She made friends with a young WI member from Tower Hamlets WI and had the “best time ever”.

The draw was made for this year’s bursary of £300 and the lucky recipient was Marion Bayliss.

The more serious business of the evening was to debate and consider the two WI resolutions for voting on at the National Federation’s annual meeting at Bournemouth this month.

One was “A call against the decline in local bus services” and the other was “Don’t fear the smear”.

To help us, Jenny Ward gave us a true and false quiz to complete in small groups before coming together to compare answers.

The members gave a majority vote in favour of both resolutions.

Successful resolutions become campaigns and with more 220,000 national members, the Federation is in a very strong position to lobby on its members’ behalf.

The campaign to “End plastic soup ” was launched in 2017.

Jenny told members that the Federation was encouraging the fashion industry to join a microfibre consortium of brands which have come together to address and align the need for better understanding of microplastic pollution.

Each member was given a pre-worded postcard on which to insert the name of a retailer that has not joined the consortium.

The cards will be sent to the Federation for forwarding to the retailers.

“S.O.S. for the Honey bee” was a campaign launched in 2009.

World Bee Day was on May 20 so members Sandra Rhodes and Sue Hedges had a table of “Plants for pollinators” for sale.

Alison Bishop gave details of the summer outing on August 13 — a boat trip on the Kennet & Avon Canal followed by a visit to Marlborough. June Fisher invited everyone to a coffee morning at Emmer Green on June 22 to raise money for toiletry packs for emergency admission patients at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

On a lighter note, Alison Bishop and Janice Rapson hosted two games of bingo with traditional humorous calling and explanations of the phrases for each number called.

The competition was for a handmade item to mark the Oxfordshire Federation’s centenary year. There were three entries, a centenary card by Lillian Dewar, a floral decorated jacket by Pam Gross and an embroidered card showing the Oxfordshire emblem by Beverley Porteous. It was agreed they were all joint winners.

The flower of the month competition was won by Sue Hedges with Carol Townhill in second place and Jo Denslow in third.

The raffle was drawn and refreshments served. Before the meeting drew to a close members enjoyed some social time.

The next meeting will be held at Sonning Common village hall on June 20 at 7.30pm when David Copley will talk to us about the Kennet & Avon Canal.

Visitors are welcome. For more information, call Carol on 0118 972 3738.


SADLY, our first task was to remember inspiring member Jane Brazil, who has passed away.

A quietly remarkable woman, she had long associations with various organisations such as Riding for the Disabled and the scouts to name just two.

We held a minute’s silence for her.

This was followed by an enjoyable and stimulating discussion about the two resolutions to be proposed at the National Federation’s annual meeting in Bournemouth this month.

What is a resolution? Briefly, it stems from an idea from any WI member in England or Wales.

Their local Federation does further research and decides if the issue should go through to the National Federation for consideration.

The resolutions will typically be a call to the Government to fund, publicise or improve some service we feel strongly about.

But they can be more varied than that and call for our members to take action. For instance, the Keep Britain Tidy movement came about as a result of a WI resolution.

The National Federation compiles a shortlist of the best which goes out to every member who then choose their favourites in order using a written form which is posted to an independent counter.

Eventually we end up with either one or two statements which are then discussed by every WI in May each year.

We take a yes/no vote (or can abstain) which then goes to the national meeting in June. The votes are then counted and if the resolution is passed on a “yes” vote majority, then the National Federation starts a campaign. Each WI can get as involved as it wishes.

If a resolution is not passed, no further action is taken. This does happen, perhaps because time has overtaken the need and the problem is already being dealt with.

This June the resolutions are “A call against the decline in local bus services” and “Don’t fear the smear”. We voted to agree with both.

Thought processes over, we enjoyed supper and chatting together before challenging our brains again in a lighthearted quiz to round things off. Our netball players had had an enjoyable evening’s play.

Our members have also been walking, dining, crafting and reading their book of the month.

We decided on the small group to enter the group craft competition coming up and noted several fund-
raising options where we can help with catering for visitors.

Some of our members were in France on a gardens tour with the Federation. We will all be together again in June for our garden meeting.


THE talk at our May evening meeting was given by Dorothy, Jane and Sophie, from the Florence Nightingale Hospice. They gave us an insight into the workings of this wonderful hospice.

Patients are nursed with a home-from-home approach, which is a wonderful way to care and help them relax.

As the June meeting will be our garden party, to be held at Watlington bowls club, we will have no speaker.

In July we have Louise Russell from the Nasio Trust, which works in East Africa supporting children.

The August meeting will be a social evening (more details to follow) and in September Jan Warner will be speaking on the subject of “Survival of the fittest — how our forebears raised their infants”.

We meet at Watlington town hall on the second Wednesday of the month and visitors are very welcome to come and meet us.

For more information, please call Dawn Matthews on (01491) 612023.


MEMBERS ran the tea and cakes tent at the Whitchurch Hill village fete held on May 25.

It was a fine and sunny afternoon and our members provided a good assortment of home-made cakes, which were welcomed by the thirsty and hungry crowds as usual.

Our speaker at our business meeting in May was Jaye Windmill on “Land’s End to John O’Groats”.

She gave us a lively and entertaining talk (without notes), which was well illustrated. She imparted some of her and her husband’s enthusiasm for the three months they spent walking the length and breadth of Britain.

In June we shall have our annual outing which will be an afternoon at Caversham Croquet Club. We look forward to learning to play.

Also in June, we shall have Daniel Melville revealing the magic of “3D printing”.

In early July we shall enjoy a workshop on “sugarcraft” and at our July business meeting Marcelle Siddall will tell us about a way of life in rural South Africa.

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

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.


PATRICIA SOLOMONS welcomed members and visitors to our May meeting on a lovely, warm day.

Celebrating birthdays this month were Audrey Hawthorne and Hazel Tagg.

The president of Peppard WI, who was to vote on our behalf at the National Federation’s annual meeting, came to speak to us about the resolutions, which were “A call against the decline in local bus services” and “Don’t fear the smear”.

These were then discussed and voted on.

The lunch club was to go Goring Heath Golf Club.

Shirley Bryant gave thanks to Patricia Solomons for arranging the perfect day we had at Savill Garden with a boat trip from Runnymede to Windsor, which included the obligatory cream tea!

We had a quiz thanks to Ann Larden.

This was followed by a lovely tea prepared by Jenny Gough, Jan Clegg and Ann Rossiter.

The bloom of the month winner was Shirley Bryant.

At the meeting on July 17, we will be sampling the cheeses of the Pangbourne Cheese Shop so please come and join us at Woodcote village hall at 2.30pm.

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