Tuesday, 17 May 2022

WI Roundup

WI Roundup


FOR September’s meeting it again fell to one of our members to host us and this time it was our treasurer who provided us with a venue and the wherewithal for a chance to catch up over tea and cake.

The usual notices were given out and the meeting continued with social time with one of our members giving an interesting account of her recent visit to Jersey where she learnt how the island fared during the German occupation.

Our next scheduled meeting will be at the Millstream Centre in Benson on Wednesday, October 27 at 2pm.

A completion date for the work at Benson parish hall is still not known so our usual venue will be unavailable for some time.

The Millstream Centre normally provides activities and lunches for older Benson residents but has been the home of our community help hub during the pandemic, providing support for residents requiring assistance and information.

The centre manager will be talking to us about this and we are sure there will be many stories to share over a cup of tea and cake.

If you wish to join us or find out more about Benson WI, please call the secretary on (01491 837885) or email bensonwi@oxfordshirewi.co.uk

Sue Brown


ON Wednesday, September 22, joint presidents Judi Rowlands and Helen Perry welcomed members back to our own village hall in Crazies Hill.

It was such a happy day to finally socialise after an absence dating back to March 2020.

Judi welcomed four new members and encouraged everyone to snap up bargains from the bring and buy table, all donated by members. It was great fun.

Half the money raised will be used to make toiletry packs for patients who unexpectedly have to stay at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading for treatment.

A quiz about climate change was given to the members. Here are two examples (answers at the bottom):

1. Which continent has the lowest precipitation (which can be drizzle to snow)?

a Arctic

b Africa

c Antarctica

2. What are the names of the Northern Lights and the Southern lights?

Another test was “How many words (three letters or more) can you make out of ecological?” I have to confess that I enjoyed this one more. Our team managed to find 33 words — not good enough, I fear, as the answer was 56. Examples include collage, local and colic.

Members then enjoyed a delicious tea, which included homemade cakes and sandwiches prepared and served by Jean Gimblett and Hilary Kinnersley.

Our next meeting will take place at Crazies Hill village hall on Wednesday, October 20 at 2.30pm. Our speaker will be Jaye Windmill, whose talk will be about countryside tributes to the famous, not so famous and the infamous who shaped Britain’s history.

Answers: 1. c Antarctica.

2. Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis.

Selina Avent


ROTHERFIELD Greys is an Oxfordshire village with an ancient parish church, a very old pub and, in nearby Greys, a village green, now a cricket ground.

Opposite the green is the village hall, the home of Greys WI. Sleepy, calm, timeless.

Not exactly where you would expect to find Harry Potter, the boy wizard, but you would be wrong.

Greys WI invited Harry to their September meeting by contacting Julie Green, education manager of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter.

So, Harry came to Greys village via an interactive film screen.

Since the average age of Greys WI members is slightly higher than most Harry Potter fans, we also invited pupils of Peppard Primary School and 31 enthusiastic fans came, together with their teachers.

It is fair to say this was not a usual WI meeting but it was enormous fun.

Greys village has problems with wi-fi but our treasurer Ina Chantry and her husband Chris somehow managed to overcome this with a dongle (modern magic to many of us).

Julie appeared on an interactive screen and could also, via Ina, answer many questions from the children.

One little girl put up her hand and said she didn’t have a question but she would like to see more of Harry’s magic clothes and Julie immediately displayed some of Harry’s robes.

So, a very magical mix of excited children and interested WI members filled the hall.

Afterwards, the children were given fruit juice and a biscuit, plus a book on the making of the Harry Potter films and then, still chatting excitedly, departed in the Peppard school bus.

Peace reigned again and we had a lovely, calm cup of tea. A truly memorable meeting.

Thanks to Julie, the incredibly well-behaved children of Peppard school and their teachers and especially Ina and Chris, without whom this would not have been possible.

Merryl Roberts


WE are very pleased to report that our WI summer party took place towards the end of July, with a group of 26 members meeting at Hambleden village hall for a most convivial and thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.

With the sun streaming in through the open double doors, we enjoyed a delicious tea of sandwiches, scones and cakes, made by various members and accompanied by a glass or two of Prosecco.

It was wonderful to get together once again and a big thank-you to all those who donated such a great array of raffle prizes.

Our first face-to-face meeting of the year took place with 20 members on Thursday, September 9.

The committee had invited Buckinghamshire Federation adviser Judith Forster to explain the options for the future of Hambleden WI.

Sadly, our president is stepping down at the November annual meeting and, at present, nobody has volunteered for the position.

Judith confirmed that every WI must have in post a president, treasurer and secretary in order to run and without these three positions being filled, there were two options for consideration by the branch:

1. To suspend and follow the closure procedures

2. To “enlarge” with another WI.

Following Judith’s departure, the group agreed the matter should be further discussed at the October meeting when hopefully more members will come along.

In the meantime, there will be a follow-up discussion between Judith, Sarah and the committee.

On a lighter note, our September meeting continued with a game of bingo, accompanied by a delicious tea served by Bernie Beavis, Angela Detsiny and Gay Doggart.

During September the art club and the walking group both me and the book club discussed A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.

Forthcoming activity dates include:

October 13 — Our first WI outing for many months will be a tour of Leander Club in Henley, followed by lunch.

October 20 — Walking group meets at 10.30am at the Rainbow Inn, Middle Assendon.

The next members’ meeting will be in Hambleden village hall on October 14 at 7.30pm when Katherine Alcock, a Blue Badge tourist guide, will talk about “The dreaming spires of Oxford”.

Katie will explore the story of Oxford “town” and “gown”, its glorious buildings and the people who have shaped it over the centuries. from Christopher Wren to Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Cranmer to C S Lewis.

We will find out why this magical city has secured such a strong place in the nation’s heart and imagination.

There will also be further discussion regarding the future of Hambleden WI.

For more information about Hambleden WI, email Hambleden.wi@gmail.com or visit our website, www.hambleden-wi.org

Sally-Ann Roberts


OUR 80th birthday meeting began in an unusual way as we had to be reminded of the covid-19 rules and regulations, to sign the track and trace list and to sanitise our hands.

How many WIs, when celebrating 80 years, have had to do such a thing?

This was our first meeting back in Harpsden village hall since February 2020 and, as it was the hottest day for some time, we were able to have the doors and windows wide open.

President Suzanna Rose welcomed visitors from the Beechwood Group, Marcus the hall caretaker and Mark Green, our speaker.

Mark told us about his 32 years in the fire and rescue service, beginning as an 18-year old in Hampshire before moving on to various Berkshire stations.

He showed many newspaper cuttings of incidents in which he had been a part, namely saving Fluff the cat, thatched roof fires where the chicken wire had to be removed before the burning thatch could be dealt with and at the largest fire of all, being Windsor Castle.

At the latter it was an enormous task in salvaging the valuable contents.

Since retiring as a firefighter, Mark has obtained his commercial pilot’s licence and he now teaches people to fly from White Waltham Airfield.

We were then happy to welcome the Mayor of Henley, Councillor Sarah Miller, who proposed a toast to Harpsden WI.

The bar, manned by the president’s husband, dispensed Prosecco and soft drinks while the kitchen supplied the usual cups of tea.

The birthday cake had been made and donated by Jasmine Weaver and was formally cut by Shirley Weyman, the longest-serving member.

The account of the very first meeting of Harpsden WI in 1941 was on show amongst some of the archives.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent chatting to friends whom we had not seen face-to-face for a long time, although we had seen them in their sitting rooms or kitchens via Zoom.

We wandered in and out of the hall into the surrounding grounds, enjoying the beautiful sunshine and the camaraderie and, of course, the bar.

We were happy that the raffle was won by visitors, our WI adviser Janet Kingdon and Julie, from HoT WI.

Suzanna thanked our committee for their hard work in organising this milestone event and we all departed happy and jolly but tired.

Judith Young


WE had a local celebrity regale us with tales from the railways in September.

Norman Topsom started working on the railways on January 5, 1962 when he was 15 and Henley station had 40 members of staff. He was paid £2 10s a week.

He went on to work in Henley, Twyford and Reading for the next 53 years.

Norman shared his experiences of many events from over the years, some hilarious, such as when he took a suspect briefcase home for the night before handing it in to the bomb squad at Reading station the next day.

There were also horrifying tales of the unfortunately frequent suicides on the tracks as well as of the times when his intervention with a kind word and a cup of tea may have prevented many more.

Norman was such a popular member of staff that he even had a locomotive named after him.

He was the archetypal railwayman, easily recognisable in his uniform with his fabulous sideburns and always willing to share his knowledge with young and old.

Norman can still be spotted out and about and is very willing to share his love of local history on social media.

In the absence of our president Katie Woodis-Field, who had finally managed to get away on holiday, Louise Sadler led the meeting, which was slightly smaller than usual due to the clash with the Henley Festival.

Rosemary McKean had created a wonderful train cake to share with our members and guests.

Next month’s meeting will be held at Sacred Heart Church hall in Vicarage Road on Friday, October 15 from 7.30pm when we will have two of our local female firefighters enlightening us about their roles within the fire service.

Meanwhile, we have our walking groups being led on Saturdays, a book club, knit & natter, craft club and cinema and theatre group for all our members to participate in.

We welcome guests to our meetings and have plenty of room for new members. Do pop along to one of our meetings to find out more.

Nicola Taylor


A LOVELY summer’s day brought most of our members along to Peppard War Memorial Hall for an enjoyable and lively tea.

We all found Dr Hasler’s talk on his career as a GP at Sonning Common Health Centre, from 1965 until his retirement, really enlightening and most informative.

He was involved in the training of future generation of GPs and informed us of the general changes in the approaches to healthcare over the years.

What an asset to the community he has been and, in sharing his knowledge, continues to be.

Our next meeting will be at the memorial hall on Wednesday, October 13 at 2pm, when we will have a games afternoon. Visitors are most welcome.

Stephanie Douglas


MEMBERS enjoyed another meeting in the village hall and it was good to hear the chatter as everyone caught up with news and events.

After the business of the day, the group welcomed Ray Eisted to the meeting.

He is a member of the Cliveden National Trust talks service team and he gave a fascinating talk about the people who have lived at Cliveden.

Pictures of rooms and their contents were shown and the history and origins of the furniture was

Ray also addressed such questions as to what motivated Waldorf Astor to purchase Cliveden in 1893.

On September 15, several members gathered to attend the Berkshire Federation’s annual meeting, held via Zoom, which proved an interesting and entertaining morning.

Later that afternoon, several members met for another meeting of the book club and after much discussion of various options it was agreed that the next read would be Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks.

The next meeting will be at Remenham village hall on October 11. If you would like to come along, please call Daphne on 07919 358979.

Daphne Austen


WELL, here we were on September 1, 2021 at our first proper meeting WI since March 2020.

Arlene, the president, welcomed members and guests present and said that a report of that last meeting and the annual meeting were available for all to see.

She then handed over to Ryszarda (secretary) for correspondence notices:

A letter on nominations for the board of trustees 2022-2025.

The Berkshire Federation holiday to Yorkshire (September 28 to October 2).

Minutes from the spring national council meeting 2019 and various others.

Next, Sue (treasurer) gave an account of the financial situation, which is stable.

She also stated that £19.10 was made from the raffle in August.

Finally, birthday cards were given to those with September birthdays.

Arlene went on to say that Scrabble would be commencing in October, hosted by Carol Adams.

The book club would meet at Barbara Wood’s house and Barbara would also keep a look out for a suitable film for the cinema club to view.

Ladies That Lunch met at the Moderation in Caversham on September 14.

Mini hats for Innocent drinks — a call was made for anyone who wishes to knit or crochet such hats with 25p going to Age UK Reading. A pattern is available on request.

Come on, ladies, get those needles and hooks going for a very worthy cause.

Arlene introduced our speaker, Jaye Windmill, who gave a very interesting talk called “Monumental Britain”.

This was about monuments to people who are not necessarily very famous but have done some amazing things.

I wish I could remember some of the names but cannot but the talk was very interesting. Thank you, Jaye.

After the talk, Arlene gave a vote of thanks. We then had tea and biscuits followed by the raffle.

Arlene brought the meeting to a close and said that our next meeting would be on October 6 and would be a cream tea meeting (yummy).

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

Jean Hewitt


IT was wonderful to be back in Shiplake Memorial Hall for the September meeting.

All the ladies had been advised about the covid restrictions and social distancing and Barbara took everyone’s temperature on arrival.

It was important to make all members feel safe.

Joan Jolley, the president, welcomed back the excited gathering of 42 ladies and reminded us that it had been 19 months since our last real meeting.

She was pleased to welcome two new members.

An interesting rendition of Jerusalem was sung — the volume was hindered by the wearing of masks.

Joan mentioned the tea party at the Baskerville in July and reminded everyone how excellent it had been.

She had also been to Harpsden WI’s 80th birthday meeting with Pam Hudgell and they had enjoyed both the talk and the cake.

Sue Lines told the meeting about the successful trip to the Fairmile Vineyard in Henley in August and reported to members about the visit to the Nettlebed Creamery later in the month.

Joan then thanked Ursula Davies for creating the beautiful flower arrangement on the president’s table and explained that it would be given to the winner of the quiz.

She went on to highlight some items of interest in the Oxfordshire Federation magazine, including a trip to Bath, the speakers’ day and the craft competition.

An early announcement was made about the Christmas lunch which will take place at Badgemore Park in Henley on December 13.

Joan then told the meeting about the success of some Shiplake WI members at Binfield Heath Flower Show.

The speaker for the afternoon was Lizzie Rowe, whose talk was entitled “Colour in art”.

She began by explaining how important it was to observe coloured details in pictures and how we could all learn “visual thinking”.

She talked about primary and complementary colours and their importance, both singly and combined.

She explained about warm and cool colours and the colours of the seasons and the importance of light and dark and the effect of light on colour.

She showed us some lovely examples of how colours were used in pictures over the ages and explained about the different moods and times of day that they were showing.

Joan thanked Lizzie for a very interesting and educational talk.

Then followed the long-awaited excellent tea. Thanks to the tea hostesses Jean Buckett and Judy Rolston.

The October meeting will be a talk by Alison Gardner entitled “My life in design”.


FOR the first time in 12 months, the craft group met in the village hall and members were busy knitting red poppies to renew the wreath which will be hung in the hall on Remembrance Sunday, November 14.

Members Christine, Gill and Beverley joined in the Big Knit for Age UK, which works in partnership with Innocent drinks in asking knitters to knit little woolly hats which are then placed on to smoothie bottles in shops.

For every bottle sold, a donation is made by the company to the charity.

Our members’ meeting was held in the village hall on September 16, which was the first time since February 2020.

We were pleased to welcome back 39 members, many of whom hadn’t seen each other for those 19 months.

Members were welcomed by our president with a glass of Prosecco to celebrate being back together and it was also WI Day, celebrating 106 years of the organisation.

The speaker was Jeff Rozelaar who gave a talk entitled “Bagels and bacon”.

It was a lively talk with a mix of Jewish and Cockney humour about him growing up in the post-war East End of London. Everyone found him very entertaining.

The darts group have continued to meet outside throughout the summer and have also met at a local pub where they enjoyed lunch prior to a game.

Our next meeting will be on October 21 and will include a talk entitled “Following the clue” by the author Liz Harris.

Carol Townhill


ON a beautiful sunny afternoon, the president Rita Mann welcomed members and one guest to the September meeting.

Now that things are beginning to return to normal, lots of events are being planned and put into action in the county for all members to participate in.

We were disappointed to learn that our speaker from the Children’s Air Ambulance charity had had to cancel at the last minute due to ill health.

It is a legacy of the pandemic that any illness has to be taken seriously and we still need to be careful.

After an initial panic, the well-oiled machine of the WI (that is the president and committee) swung into action.

Craft supplies had been gathered together and a card making demonstration and session was our alternative programme.

The president demonstrated quilling and we also had on offer coloured card, adhesive pictures, stickers and a myriad of borders, quotes, templates and everything else needed for people to make a card to their own design.

It was a productive and fun afternoon.

This was followed by our usual afternoon tea laid on by a rota of our members. This is always an important part of our meetings as it gives members the time and opportunity to socialise, catch up with old friends and get to know new ones.

This is something we hope to continue with well into the future. As we all know, the British bond over a cup of tea.

We hope to rebook the speaker for another time.

We meet on the second Tuesday of the month in the village hall at 2.15pm.

If you are looking for fun and friendship why not come and join us for an afternoon as a guest?

Margaret Boorne


WE had been hoping to be back in the village hall in person for our monthly meeting in September.

However, as not all our members were comfortable with such an arrangement, and with the rising transmission of covid-19 in the community, the committee took the difficult decision to meet via Zoom once again.

Our speaker was Emma Hamer, from the National Farmers’ Union, whose talk was entitled “Let’s connect with our food”.

Little did we know how topical this would turn out to be when we booked the speaker more than a year ago.

Emma gave a broad outline of the numbers of livestock, the amount of land used in farming and the role of the NFU in supporting farmers.

She described the many difficulties facing farmers, not least of which is climate change. The shortage of carbon dioxide has now been added to that list.

Emma described the ways in which farmers are addressing some of these problems and the ways in which agriculture is changing to improve the environment while still increasing the efficiency of food production.

These include restoring hedgerows, planting more trees, installing solar panels and wind turbines on agricultural land, growing crops such as maize for biofuel and changing many traditional processes for more sustainable ones.

The industry is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2040.

The talk was followed by many questions from our members which Emma expertly answered.

It has been quite a while since we’ve had such a good discussion with our speaker.

On the subject of caring for the environment, Stoke Row WI decided to mark this year’s Great Big Green Week in September with a litter-pick and a number of our members joined other volunteers from the village in cleaning up rubbish from the area.

Almost two bin bags’ worth of litter were collected, which is a good result as the volunteers had to work quite hard to find any litter. So well done, Stoke Row village.

We will also be planting a tree to mark the week.

Our WI will continue to offer the opportunity for our members to meet in person with the craft group, outdoor games and organised walks on the programme over the coming months.

However, we are planning to provide “hybrid” monthly meetings in future once we have the technology installed.

Our next meeting will be on October 19 when Al Sylvester will talk to us about the work of the RAF Mountain Rescue Service.

If you are interested in what we do, call our secretary Pam on (01491) 681723 or email her at srwisecretary

You are most welcome to visit.

Denise Stanworth


WE enjoyed the last of our outdoor monthly meetings in glorious sunshine on the village green.

Against the backdrop of the early arrival of autumn leaves, two thirds of the members met to celebrate Great Big Green Week.

Members were invited to dress in pre-loved clothes and to share with each other the clothes’ origins.

Antique jewellery was a common theme, as were purchases from our very good local charity shops. Everyone participated.

Several members showed off their recycling skills with beautiful garden furniture, rugs, cotton bags (made from old T-shirts) wasp traps and plant pots and plant labels.

Wildflower seeds (in anticipation of next summer) were shared among the gardeners present and green-fingered Tricia won the flower of the month competition.

As if that wasn’t enough, we raised money from books and sales tables.

Our raffle was a set of beautifully made place and drinks mats. Our thanks go to Sandra Atack for this work of art.

The winner was Liz Gibson, who donated the material to Sandra in the first place!

On September 18, members undertook a litter collection around the village.

Sally Bergmann


WE met in the village hall on a momentous day after not being able to get together since February 2020.

Patricia Solomons welcomed members and it was lovely just to see everyone again.

Patricia acknowledged that we had all had sad and happy events in our families over the past two years.

Ann Larden gave us information about a trip to see My Fair Lady at the New Theatre in Oxford in December.

Sally Lambert has booked the Packhorse for our next lunch club.

In October we will have our harvest meeting and we will take donations for the local food bank.

We will also have a quiz, poetry and stories of members’ memorable meals (for good and bad reasons)

In November we will be making Christmas decorations, so bring a sewing kit.

Our speakers were from the Five a Day market garden in Englefield, a not-for-profit community project.

We learned about their work offering a wonderful volunteering experience to people keen to learn about gardening.

The winner of the competition for a photo of a plant or garden was Connie Vickery and the bloom of the month winner was Margaret Carter.

We meet on the third Wednesday of the month in Woodcote village hall at 2.30pm.

Judy Williams

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