Monday, 16 May 2022

WI Roundup

WI Roundup


IN November we met at the Millstream Centre once again while waiting for completion of work at the parish hall.

After the usual WI business and notices, we were pleased to welcome a representative from the Style Acre charity to talk to us about its work and make a plea for volunteers at its shop in Wallingford.

Style Acre is well known to our members and does some very good work enhancing the lives of people with learning difficulties and autism. The charity’s tea rooms at Blewbury are well worth a visit.

Following this, our president took us on a trip down her memory lane with a talk about her time and service with the WRNS from 1968 to 1974.

She first worked as a radio electrician with the Fleet Air Arm before changing a couple of years later to work as a naval photographer on some very varied and interesting assignments.

The talk concluded with a fun naval slang quiz.

During November, following news reports and comments from Benson Nature Group, we wrote to our MP to express our concern over the large amount of sewage discharge into the River Thames between Benson and Wallingford.

A response was received so we hope that measures will be taken to safeguard our lovely local environment.

For December, we will again meet at the Millstream Centre, this time for a Christmas afternoon tea and some festive social time.

Benson WI sends best wishes for a very happy Christmas to all our Oxfordshire WI friends and to the staff at the Henley Standard and all its readers.

If you wish to join us at any time or find out more about Benson WI, please call the secretary on (01491) 837885 or email

Sue Brown


CAVERSHAM WI meets on the third Wednesday of the month at Church House (next to Waitrose) at 7.30pm.

There is a programme of speakers but the WI offers much more. We have garden parties and walks in the summer and often a boat trip.

There are important resolutions to pursue on matters of political and social importance.

We take turns at running the kiosk at Caversham Court gardens.

Membership entitles you to the WI magazine.

Our December meeting will feature a talk called “Christmas stories” by Jaye Windmill. Come along to find out more.

For more information, call Joy Kennedy on 07786 642424 or email

Joy Kennedy


THE speaker at our November meeting was well received by the ladies with a very interesting talk on Caversham Court gardens.

Tea was taken after the talk and cakes were provided.

Our president welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked the speaker for a most informative talk. The November birthdays were announced and the Berkshire WI News was ready for members to take home with them.

A lunch outing at a local hostelry was enjoyed with lots of laughter and folk pleased to be out together catching up with family news.

Our art, book club and knitting groups continue and we thank the hosts for having members in their homes.

Next up is the Christmas meeting with a speaker booked to talk about hats.

Carol Briscoe


OUR third meeting since we restarted face-to-face meetings was on November 10 and featured a very informative talk by Janet Hurst on researching family history.

The competition was for a family heirloom and was won by Margaret King with a lovely silver pocket watch and coins.

Second and third places went to Chris Cox and Sandra Breen respectively.

The Christmas meeting and party will be held on Wednesday, December 8 and will feature seasonal food and drink and entertainment from Ted Morse.

We meet on the second Wednesday of each month at 7.30pm at Storton Lodge, Icknield Way, Goring.

New members are always welcome.

Katrina Cooper


ON Wednesday, November 17, Judi Rowlands and Helen Perry (joint presidents) were delighted to welcome new member Wendy to our meeting.

Our speaker was Jeff Rozelaar whose talk was a lively account of growing up in the post-war East End of London, a mixture of Jewish and cockney humour.

Jeff grew up in Stepney in the Forties and Fifties. He has fond memories of a
delicatessen and a bakery shop on his street and the delicious competing smells.

The bakery specialised in bagels, which were fantastic.

On the other side of the street there was Jo’s café, which specialised in bacon and eggs.

This inspired the title of his book, Bagels and Bacon, a highly recommended and very funny autobiography.

The area where he grew up became famous for Jewish writers such as the playwright Harold Pinter (born in 1930).

A director and actor and Nobel Prize winner, Pinter was one of the most influential modern British dramatists with a writing career that spanned more than 50 years. Also local was Lionel Bart who wrote the music and lyrics for Oliver! in 1960 based on Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist.

Jeff gave us a rendition of one of Fagin’s songs from Oliver!

Bart also wrote Living Doll in 1959, which took him seven minutes. Cliff Richard went on to have a hit with the song.

Jeff’s mother wanted him to learn about his Jewish heritage so after school he had to learn Hebrew so that he could read from the Torah for his bar mitzvah. He recited a Hebrew blessing, Baruch atah Adonai.

Jeff went to Robert Montefiore Secondary School in Stepney and was expecting to leave at 15 but a new headteacher arrived named Rhodes Boyson.

He sorted out the “teddy boys” who smoked and carried flick knives and improved the school.

Boyson persuaded Jeff’s parents that he should do
A-levels and go to university.

Jeff had many amusing jokes and anecdotes about life in London at that time. Rationing, playing outside for hours in and derelict houses and eating sherbet fountains, gobstoppers and jubblys when lucky enough to have sweets.

Another song he gave us was Don’t Jump Off the Roof, Dad, You’ll Make a Hole in the Yard.

Our next meeting is our Christmas party which will take place on Wednesday, December 8 at the Horns pub in Crazies Hill.

Selina Avent


OUR president, Jackie, welcomed all members and guests, including Stella Kendall, president of Stoke Row WI, to our meeting on November 17.

Our secretary, Jen, reminded us of the Oxfordshire Federation’s Christmas charity collection for homeless adults and Afghan refugee families.

We will be collecting for this at our next meeting, with appeals for shampoo, shower gel, lip salve, hand cream, toothpaste, toothbrush, warm gloves, socks, large chocolate bars, moisturiser and maybe a toy or two.

Joyce, Val and Jen have created a banner for the Federation’s banner competition. Val knitted four of the pennants and Jen knitted one while Joyce provided the other four motifs and constructed the whole entry.

Our speakers, Darren and Tracey Curtis, talked about panic attacks — sudden, overwhelming attacks of panic or fear.

Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety and panic at certain times as it’s a natural response to stressful or dangerous situations.

But someone with panic disorder has internal feelings of disabling anxiety regularly and at any time, often for no apparent reason.

Darren described this an internal, critical voice — what if we imagined ourselves saying these nasty things to a small and vulnerable child? This helps us to change the negativity into comfort to the child and thus to your inner self.

Tracey described her journey away from panic attacks to understanding them and learning how to cope.

This was a fascinating and inspiring talk, which cannot be described in a short summary. We thanked our speakers and fed them a delicious tea, which was provided by Val and Joyce.

Our next meeting will be our Christmas party on December 15 in the village hall, where we will listen to Jambalaya singing Christmas music, old and new, and share our Christmas tea.

Merryl Roberts


TWENTY-TWO members attended November’s annual meeting.

Judith Forster, the Buckinghamshire Federation adviser, was present to oversee the extraordinary re-election of the president and committee for the four months leading up to the suspension of Hambleden WI at the end of March 2022.

The meeting opened with Jerusalem and then Nikki Mainds reviewed the year’s activities. It was pleasantly surprising to hear how much we had achieved, albeit mostly in lockdown.

Claire Wathes reported a healthy financial position with membership currently at 48.

The summer party raffle was exceptional, both in the number of prizes contributed and income generated. Sarah Williams formally thanked the committee for their contribution during this difficult year and gave special thanks to Nikki for stepping up into position.

She thanked Jo Martin, Mollie Carter, Christine Hatfield, Jean Keane and Jan Connelly for their hard work and time in putting together the centenary book. This has now been printed and members will each receive a copy.

Sarah talked of her sadness that the WI group is to be suspended and hopes members will stay in touch with each other through the various groups.

Judith managed the re-election of the committee, together with the election of three new committee members, and confirmed Sarah as president. Following this there was the vote for suspension and Judith advised of a follow-up annual meeting in February to formally suspend the group.

Activities include the art club, the walking group and the book club. A small number of members had volunteered for a wreath making workshop at Hambleden village hall on December 2.

The next meeting will be our Christmas party at Leander Club in Henley on December 9.

Louise reported two activities in planning for next year: a visit to the Greatmoor energy plant in Aylesbury on January 18 and a short story/poetry reading afternoon at Parmoor in February (date to be announced).

A big thank-you to Mollie Carter, Jo Tilbury and Liz Roach for the delicious tea they served. Much appreciated.

For information about Hambleden WI, email or visit our website,

Sally-Ann Roberts


THE November meeting was held at Henley Golf Club with 20 members attending.

We were very well looked after by the staff and a delicious lunch was served.

President Suzanna Rose made any necessary announcements, keeping them as brief as possible so as not to interrupt the ambience of the occasion.

How lovely to be able to see so many friends enjoying themselves and to hear the chatter and laughter.

Our next meeting will be on December 8 when we will be entertained by Harmony, the recently formed choir in the Sonning Common/Peppard area.

Naturally, there will be a Christmas theme to the afternoon and the competition will be for a homemade Christmas card.

There will be a Secret Santa with an upper limit of £5 on presents.

We will also be collecting toiletries for a local charity, so we hope members will do their best to help the less fortunate in our area by bringing a contribution.

At our meeting on January 12, we will have Eugene Mattias speaking about “The ugly duckling and the magic wand”. All will be revealed no doubt.

The competition will be for a childhood souvenir.

We wish everyone a Happy Christmas and very best wishes for 2022.

Judith Young


OUR November meeting was a crafty one where we were challenged by our craftiest member Alison to create a Christmas door swag using a potato.

A few green-fingered ladies brought a great selection of greenery from their gardens, including holly, ivy, leylandii, rosemary, rosehips and larch cones.

Following Alison's instructions and using a myriad of baubles and ribbons repurposed from other projects, we all produced an array of lovely seasonal wreaths that we would be proud to display at home.

The variety of styles was very interesting considering we used similar items and no one could believe the transformation from a humble potato.

The refreshments also had a Christmas theme with an iced Caribbean fruit cake, mince pies and stollen, all hand made by Nicola Taylor.

Our December meeting will be our Christmas dinner at the Bull on Bell Street.

Nicola Taylor


IT was a grey day and a foretaste of winter on November 3 when we welcomed Carol Wheeler as our guest speaker.

She had entitled her programme “Handbells extraordinaire” and indeed what followed certainly lived up to this description.

Before us a table had been set with 27 bells but there was only one bell-ringer present.

Carol has been playing bells for 40 years and had been a member of two teams plus an orchestra of 50.

But with the covid lockdowns all this activity ceased, so Carol decided to teach herself to play as a soloist.

Using discreet recorded background accompaniment, she opened her performance with Moon River and continued with a great variety of items from famous musicals or films.

She even took up a pair of sticks at one point so as to vary things and play the bells as a xylophone.

And then it was our turn as Carol invited us to join her. Tentative at first, our enthusiasm and confidence soon took over and Amazing Grace really did sound amazing.

Carol brought the afternoon to an end with As Time Goes By and one could only say “encore”. A delightful afternoon.

Sue Drew


AT our November meeting, Barry Wood gave us a fascinating insight into the history of Greys Court and Henley.

We found it all so interesting and hope that he will come again and tell us more.

After an enjoyable tea and conversation, we confirmed plans for the December 8 meeting, which will be held at Peppard War Memorial Hall at 2pm.

Children from Peppard Primary School will come and sing carols and we have some surprises in store for the afternoon.

We take the opportunity to wish everyone a safe and happy festive season.

Elaine Douglas


AT their November meeting, the programme for our Christmas meeting was discussed and also the arrangements for the Christmas lunch.

Members were also delighted to hear that one member had come first in the Berkshire section of the Lady Denman Cup and her piece of prose was now being put forward to the national competition.

After the business section of the meeting, it was a foodie meeting.

Brains were challenged with a quiz covering a wide range of food topics with surprise being expressed as to why we have royal icing on our cakes.

This was followed by an amazing display of cakes cooked by members of the committee.

The theme was cakes coming from various parts of the UK and indeed the world and included Dutch apple cake, angel cake, Derbyshire fruit cake, Guinness cake, saffron cake, Black Forest gateau and a Turkish cake.

Each “baker” gave information and historical facts when introducing their cake and copies of recipes were also made available.

Members showed obvious enjoyment when sampling the various slices, all washed down with some delightful English tea.

This led to some interesting chatter and culinary comparisons for the remainder of the afternoon.

The book club members met once again to discuss their latest read, The Orphan Thief by Glynis Peters.

The main theme of the book seemed to be the community, which was thought to be very relevant today with people looking after their neighbours.

The next book is Liar by Lesley Pearse with the next meeting in early January.

As always, new members are welcome. For more information, please call Daphne on 07919 358979.

Daphne Austen


I JUST cannot believe that another month has gone by and it is WI time again.

But here we were on Wednesday, November 3 for our monthly meeting.

The weather was not too bad and a goodly number of members and visitors were present.

Arlene Riley (president) opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and went on to say that a copy of the October minutes was available for all to see. No correspondence had been received.

Sue Green (treasurer) reported that the accounts were stable.

Birthday cards were handed out to members with November birthdays.

Arlene spoke about the various groups. It is hoped that Scrabble will be commencing in the new year, as will the cinema group.

The book club met at Barbara Wood’s house and Ladies That Lunch met at the Quattro restaurant in Caversham. The Christmas lunch will be at the Griffin in Caversham on Tuesday, December 14. Members were asked to choose either two or three courses and a deposit of £10 was required.

A trip is being organised to the Bombay Sapphire distillery and silk mill on May 17. A board will be available at our February meeting for those wishing to attend.

Let’s hope we have a good day and the weather is kind.

Brenda Thomas and Barbara Wood will be stepping down from the committee in March so we will be asking for volunteers to take up making the tea and coffee.

Arlene then introduced our speaker for the afternoon, Peter Hague, who gave a very interesting talk about the history of Cliveden, focusing particularly on the various people who had lived there and the different owners over the years.

He also showed us a few slides of some of the interior and the gardens. After the talk, the raffle was drawn and, finally, we had a very welcome cup of tea.

Arlene closed the meeting by saying that our next meeting would be on December 1 when we would have a tenor (Mark Harrison), Christmas waits, a quiz and general Christmas songs.

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

Jean Hewitt


THERE was an excellent turnout for the November meeting and Joan Jolley, the president, welcomed everyone.

November is our memorial month and while Jerusalem was being played, Joan asked us to remember those members who were no longer with us.

She then announced details of the Christmas lunch at Badgemore Park and asked ladies to ensure they had paid their money and selected their menu choices. She thanked everyone for their donations of gifts for the homeless, which would be wrapped and decorated to ensure they looked Christmassy.

Joan had laid the WI wreath at the Shiplake War Memorial on Remembrance Sunday and thanked those who had also attended the service. The Oxfordshire and National Federations’ news followed — the auction of promises, an interesting day at Benson and the virtual advent calendar.

Joan advised us to look at MyWI for more information on all the organised events.

Rosemary Jones had brought along some copies of a book written by her brother, Rory O’Grady, entitled Flight of the Arctic Fox — the story of a tragic air collision over Italy in 1958 which killed all 31 people on board.

Rosemary’s second brother had been a passenger on that fatal flight.

The speaker for the afternoon was Graham Horn with a talk entitled “Reading Abbey 900”.

He started with an explanation about the history of the town of Reading and the importance of the River Kennet and River Thames to the town’s expansion.

The foundations of the abbey were laid in 1121, hence this year is the 900th anniversary.

He told of the growth of Reading and the three Bs — Beer, Biscuits and Bulbs — but conceded that there could be two more important Bs, Bricks and Bayeaux. The abbey gained significance throughout the 13th and 14th centuries. It became an important place for pilgrimages and was the venue for royal funerals and weddings.

Graham showed slides of the sites of the old walls and explained the locations of the ruins of the dormitories, the chapter house and the abbey mill.

When the abbeys were dissolved the tombs were stripped of valuables and the bones were scattered.

The old stones that had been used to build the abbey are now found all around Reading — in bridges and walls and in parts of Windsor Castle.

Joan thanked Graham for his talk, which was full of local interest.

The talk was followed by another wonderful tea co-ordinated by the tea hostesses, Pippa Hughes and Rosemary Jones.

The December meeting will be the Christmas party and ladies were reminded to bring their secret Santa gifts.

In the week after the meeting, ladies visited the Bremont headquarters in Henley. This was a very interesting morning.

Pam Hudgell


ON November 18, members met at the village hall for their monthly meeting.

President Sue Frayling- Cork extended a warm welcome to members and visitors and speaker Ailsa Claybourn.

Treasurer Anne Croxson gave the financial report.

Thanks were given to Sue Hedges and the members who had helped with the Remembrance event on November 14.

The £70 in donations received for coffees has been passed to the Kidmore End branch of the Royal British Legion for the Poppy Appeal.

The knitted poppy wreath comprising 153 poppies was in place in the village hall around the memorial to Francis (Fred) Slough.

The president had had discussions with our WI advisor about the idea that WI campaigns should be adopted biannually and not annually.

Sonning Common is currently supporting three of the many ongoing campaigns.

A show of hands showed members were in agreement with the suggestion that maybe it would be better for campaigns to be added biannually.

Lesley Davis, our public affairs representative, thanked Gill Hayward who had instigated the setting up of a collection box to donate items needed for women who have suffered domestic violence and are living in emergency accommodation.

Members had brought along the suggested items and thanks to their generosity, the collection box was overflowing.

The items donated will be delivered to the Women’s Aid office in Reading.

The box will be at each of our monthly meetings so members can bring a small contribution each time.

Alison Bishop introduced our speaker, Ailsa Claybourn, for a talk and PowerPoint presentation entitled “Birds, bins and a brew” (bins being binoculars).

Ailsa showed us birds we should expect to see in our gardens and on our bird feeders.

She gave tips on how to identify them, noting the colours of head feathers, variations in type and size of beak and differences in bird song.

Ailsa pointed out that climate change had affected some birds. Since the winter temperatures in the UK are now milder, migrating birds no longer fly all the way to Africa and spend the winter here.

The flights being shorter, their wings have gradually reduced in size.

A colder UK temperature in May meant bird feeders were replenished for longer so birds needing insects to feed on did not go hungry. Swifts are unable to build nests on plastic house fascia boards and need the help of wooden swift boxes.

Red kites are not garden birds and food should not be left out for them.

The birds cannot differentiate between your barbecue chicken or chicken scraps and can become a nuisance through no fault of their own.

On behalf of us all, Marion Bayliss thanked Ailsa for her passionate and very informative talk.

Our knowledge on the birds in our gardens has increased greatly.

The talk was followed by a raffle and preloved books were also on sale.

The winner of the flower of the month competition was Janet Evans with a very attractive pink nerine.

Last year we missed some of our seasonal events but this year will be more sociable. The Christmas lunch will be held at Badgemore Park and the craft group will be making Christmas wreaths.

The Christmas party promises to be a fun occasion for all. Members are reminded to wear their best sparkly hair slides.

We wish WI members everywhere a safe and very happy Christmas.

Sue Hedges


THE November meeting took place in the village hall.

Members were reminded by the president Rita Mann that it was the institute’s 103rd birthday, a wonderful milestone and a far cry from three years previously when we celebrated our 100th with a wonderful party, special guests and, of course, the members.

In those short years the world as we knew it has changed completely with the coronavirus pandemic.

Everyone is now trying to live as normal a life as possible while still being careful and respectful of each other.

Steve Moll was the speaker and his subject was one instrumental to the wellbeing of the planet — he is a beekeeper.

He started off with just one hive in his garden as a hobby and now has a flourishing colony.

He explained the lifecycle of the honey bee at the centre of which is the queen bee. Everything revolves around her and the wellbeing of the hive depends on her.

Bees are a fragile part of our ecosystem and are in decline.

This was a fascinating subject about such a small but vital creature. Very thought-provoking.

After the talk a delicious afternoon tea was enjoyed by members and guests.

Margaret Boorne


JUST days before our November monthly meeting, we found out that wi-fi had been installed in the village hall where we usually meet, so we could at last try out a “hybrid” meeting.

Thanks go to our speaker Liz Woolley for supplying us with her PowerPoint presentation in advance so that we had it open and ready to run in parallel on a second laptop logged into Zoom.

We were pleasantly surprised at how well our simple system worked with the laptop angled towards the speaker.

One point to note is that the Zoom host must pay attention in order to advance the slides on cue with the speaker.

More than half of our members attended in person and six joined via Zoom to hear Liz give a fascinating talk on the lives of people living in Oxfordshire during the Second World War, in particular how this had impacted on children and family life.

With the majority of men away fighting, it fell to the women to work in the fields and factories.

Many women had families and childcare was an issue. Solutions were found, such as opening large nurseries and sending pre-school children to school a year early.

Schooling was significantly disrupted with time out during air raids and frequent practices.

Late attendance was permitted if there had been air raids in the night while older children missed school when they helping to bring in the harvest.

As the war progressed, Oxfordshire took in large numbers of evacuated children who then attended local schools, swelling the numbers so much that each child could only attend part time.

Playing out was not normal, or indeed safe, as children often played on bomb sites, sometimes discovering unexploded bombs.

The talk prompted some poignant personal stories from members who had close family growing up in these conditions.

We were pleased with the positive feedback from the village to the display of woollen poppies created for Remembrance Day.

These were all knitted by members of our craft group and arranged as a number 100 to mark the centenary of the Royal British Legion together with an explanation of the significance of the red poppy and also the white, black and purple poppies included in the display.

The poppies have been dried out and will be stored for reuse on another project.

The diners club met this month at the Waterside café in Benson and were so lucky with the weather that members were able to enjoy lunch sitting outside, a few even casting off an outer layer.

A long, leisurely lunch was followed by a walk along the Thames Path to see the war-related murals painted on the pillbox in a riverside garden in the direction of Wallingford.

Our Christmas meeting will be on December 7 when Wokingham poet Jean Hill will provide “An evening of humour and laughter’’.

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

Visitors are most welcome at our meetings.

Denise Stanworth


FOR our November meeting, something different was arranged. Our president Dawn Matthews showed us how to make snow baubles for our Christmas tree display at St Leonard’s Church.

Although this was very tricky to do, all members present produced lovely designs filled with an item that reminded them of their favourite thing.

It was a very busy afternoon enjoyed by all.

Our next meeting will be our Christmas party, so we asked members to bring a plate of food suitable for an afternoon tea and a glass from which to drink something bubbly.

We will have a quiz, Christmas music and a bumper raffle. The competition will be for a Christmas hair adornment.

If you are interested in coming to meet us, you will be warmly welcomed. For more information, please call Dawn Matthews on (01491) 612023.

Dawn Matthews


“STOP, think and check” was the theme of the latest talk to Whitchurch Hill WI.

The subject? How to safeguard ourselves against the many and varied scams that proliferate the internet (and life in general) these days.

Our speaker was Steve Roberts, a retired Metropolitan Police officer with many years’ experience in such matters.

His message was clear and worthy of repeating here.

Stop, think and check before undertaking any transactions, particularly online.

Always concentrate on what you are doing and pull out of any communication (verbal or written) if you have any concerns about its legitimacy.

Caught by a scam? Then notify Action Fraud at

Found a bogus website or received a fraudulent email? Then forward the information to

Steve gave us two other useful contacts too — the Financial Conduct Authority and Get Safe online at

All in all, it was a useful morning’s discussion.

The remainder of the meeting focused on more light-hearted matters. We celebrated three more members’ birthdays.

We also committed to a project to help celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee in 2022.

We are returning in part to an activity many may associate with the WI — knitting.

Crafts do not play a huge part in our particular WI but some of us are looking forward to learning a new skill while we knit bunting (red, white, and blue of course) to adorn key parts of our village for the celebratory weekend next summer.

Before then a number of us will assist Pangbourne Rotary Club with their collection tins when they (or rather Santa and Rudolph) visit Whitchurch Hill on December 9. We will be in fine spirits because only 48 hours before we will have enjoyed a Christmas food demonstration, complete with tasters, by our very own Sandra Atack.

Christmas is definitely on its way, folks, and here is to an enjoyable time for all.

For more information about Whitchurch Hill WI, please call Frances on 0118 984 2162.

Sally Bergmann


ANN LARDEN, our vice-president, welcomed members to our November meeting.

Thank you to Carole Shelley-Allen for taking the minutes.

Betty Thomas was celebrating her birthday during the month.

We had a Christmas craft afternoon, making a patchwork Christmas tree and led by Ann Sharman.

Even those that claimed to be unable to sew a button on enjoyed themselves amid buttons, baubles and sparkles.

We finished the afternoon with a table filled with a colourful array of Christmas trees.

The lunch club was going to the Ferryboat Inn at Whitchurch.

In December we will have a Christmas miscellany with music led by one of our very talented members.

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

Judy Williams

More News:

POLL: Have your say