Tuesday, 17 May 2022

WI Roundup

WI Roundup


ALL is still very quiet within the WI at Benson.

It is hoped that we will return to our formal meetings in December but current guidelines from both the Government and our National Federation make this look uncertain again.

We continue to keep in touch by phone, email and the occasional newsletter. We also submit monthly articles to the Benson Bulletin, which is circulated to every household in the village.

Members have met up on an individual basis at our local cafés but this is as far as we can go at the moment.

We were represented, as part of the Oxfordshire Federation, at the annual meeting, which was held online.

Our secretary has attended Zoom workshops to keep abreast of the changing situation.

Members continue to receive their regular magazine from the National Federation, helping to keep us in touch with the wider community.

We are all looking forward to getting back to our monthly meetings where we can catch up but until then it is a matter of staying safe and well and, above all, cheerful.

For enquiries about Benson WI, please call (01491) 837885 or email bensonwi@oxfordshirewi.co.uk

Sue Brown


OUR president Diane Bush continues to invite five members at a time to her lovely farm home for afternoon tea and, importantly, an opportunity to socialise.

I was lucky enough to attend her latest one on Wednesday, September 30.

It was great to see familiar faces again and catch up with their news.

With the coronavirus restrictions being tightened, Diane’s plan for an open air tea for members, on Mill Green in Wargrave was scuppered.

Two dedicated members are working hard to provide toiletries for patients admitted suddenly to the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reding without having essentials for their stay.

Members give money as well as donating travel-size flannels, toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs and shampoo.

It is difficult for members to donate items now as no meetings have taken place since March.

One of each item is bagged up and once the required number has been reached, theese are taken to the Royal Berks.

If any Henley Standard readers would like to donate, we would be very happy to hear from them and, of course, collect their items. Please call Selina Avent on 07552 946336.

Selina Avent


OUR monthly meetings are still not happening, although we tried to start up in our village hall with only 30 attendees out of about 42 members.

The hall was suitably set up by the caretaker.

We had a speaker, the owner of First Edition, the womenswear shop in Wallingford, which everyone enjoyed.

Attendees said it was great to see people again.

Unfortunately, the very next morning the new rule that we could only meet up in groups of six was announced so no more meetings for a while.

Our president Chris Cox is sending out newsletters twice monthly with news from members. ]

We are in contact by email while national and county federation online courses are advertised regularly and some of our members have enjoyed them.

We watched a Zoom presentation on cathedrals which we found very interesting and when we can travel again we now have some more ideas of ones we have not yet visited.

Members are very sorry to hear that Denman College is closing down and the house and grounds will be put up for sale.

It seems that funding the college has been difficult for quite a while so the blame is not all down to covid-19.

We have been so lucky here that we live near Marcham, which makes travelling easier.

Cleeve by Goring WI has also given an annual bursary towards the cost so we will miss it.

Weather permitting and in groups of six, we are planning a walk round Goring in October followed by tea/coffee in a local shop, government regulations permitting.

Best wishes to you all — keep safe and keep smiling.

Sarah Turner


OUR latest Zoom committee meeting discussed at length how to proceed in the immediate future.

Our monthly meeting will be held on October 14 via Zoom and it is hoped that those members without an internet connection will be able meet with a friend who is already linked up.

Our booked seaker will be able to Zoom his talk to us and to make it feel like a normal meeting. #

We will have a break of 20 minutes to enable us to get a cup of tea and a piece of cake and then resume the meeting for a further 20 minutes. The start is, as normal, at 2.30pm.

On November 11, instead of the planned lunch at Henley Golf Club, we will meet on Zoom for a chat and a quiz, with a tea break, as before.

We are hoping that our Christmas neeting in December will be seasonal, with monologues, poems and possibly some carols.

Another innovation is a happy hour on Sundays at 6pm, which our president, Suzanna Rose, will organise on Zoom.

The book club continues to meet fortnightly.

It would seem that Zoom has been a lifeline for keeping in touch and we may well have to continue this way for some time.

Meanwhile, we hope everyone has been able to get a flu inoculation and will stay safe and well during the approaching colder weather.

Judith Young


JUST when we thought we could start to arrange larger gatherings, in accordance with social distancing and cleaning procedures, in comes the rule of six and we have to take another necessary step back for WI events.

Gone are our regular triggers of Mondays for craft and book club, Tuesdays for swimming and the speaker meeting and Thursdays for indoor games afternoon.

Gone are our social fundraisers of lunches for visiting busloads of folk who used to come for a social afternoon with a lovely meal that they would not have cooked for themselves.

We used to provide a quiz and often a short talk and visit to Maharajah’s Well on the opposite side of the road from our village hall.

We wonder what has become of these often elderly people, who were mostly living on their own and used to look forward to their visits to us.

We used to like to see them, too, often the same people each year. It was good to catch up with them. We hope they are all well and maybe we will see them again if such events are allowed next year.

At the moment, we do not need to fundraise as we have little expense but we used to enjoy these catering occasions, including a regular coffee shop morning next to the library in Woodcote.

The very ornate and well-kept well is our WI symbol, which we used for our 60-year-old banner and other occasions, such as the church flower festival way back last year when we took it as our theme for the three matching exhibits, including an elephant, which is the centrepiece on the gilded well.

We have managed to hold smaller versions of our clubs, with lower numbers in a garden, but these will need to be curtailed or given up as the weather deteriorates and we may be able to move indoors.

Some of us have joined the Oxfordshire Federation craft demonstrations.

A recent one was on creating tangles, a pleasant, mindfulness way of spending time with what is to hand.

But it leaves you wondering what to do with your creations. My solution was to turn them into bookmarks for the many books which are being read at this time.

The Oxfordshire Federation managed to hold its annual meeting, postponed from April. Held in Oxford town hall for most of the last 100 years, it was pared down to just a business meeting and held via Zoom — an historic moment in our history but not one we would wish to repeat.

Our member Penny attended and has written up a brief report which will go into our scrapbook, which is filling up with news snippets and WhatsApp photos posted by the 18 members who regularly use it.

At least two of our number had “big 0” birthdays recently so they were sent specially designed and painted, personalised cards, as we cannot present them with the customary flowers at a meeting.

So we keep in touch, we hopefully keep safe and busy in our own ways and we keep hoping for the day we can start again, however different that may be.

Penny Noble


WE have not been idle. Our main September gathering was a little different with simultaneous meetings taking place on different village greens in our area.

This enabled us to meet within the latest covid-19 restrictions.

While it meant we couldn’t all meet up together — the size of the groups meant everyone got to talk personally to everyone in their group. Quality time.

Our social gathering in October is a walk around the grounds of Basildon Park. Maximum six in a group is becoming the new mantra.

In the middle of the month we shall join with Purley WI to enjoy a Zoom talk about the Kennet and Avon Canal.

Congratulations to Jill Green, our September winner of the flower of the month competition.

Her entry of a scabiosa (and bumble bee) was the runaway winner.

For the first time ever this was a photographic competition with not a live flower in sight.

Three of our members are vying for this year’s trophy. With still no outright winner, October will be an interesting month, especially with fewer flowers in the garden to choose from — and all to play for.

If you are interested in knowing more about Whitchurch Hill WI, please call Frances on 0118 984 2162.

Sally Bergmann

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