Tuesday, 19 March 2019

WI Roundup

WI Roundup


OUR president, Yvonne welcomed all members and guests to our November meeting.

After discussing WI business and forthcoming events, Yvonne introduced our speaker for the evening, Captain Kamran Irani, a volunteer motorcycle rider for the Blood Bikes charity.

This was set up by the Ryerson family in 1962 as a result of a family member being in hospital and the realisation that it was difficult to transport blood from one hospital to another.

From there the charity grew and it is now run entirely by volunteers who receive no compensation for their time or costs.

This provides the NHS with a dedicated rapid response courier service between the hours of 7pm and 6am Monday to Friday and all weekend.

Blood, surgical equipment, samples and anything relating to patients’ healthcare will be couriered.

Not only does this save lives but the service is provided free of charge to hospitals, thus saving the NHS huge amounts of money each year.

More recently, the Angel Programme has been launched.

This involves the collection of breast milk from mothers who have excess milk which is then taken to neonatal intensive care units.

Last year more than 400 collections of human donor milk took place.

Kamran was thanked for his fascinating talk and for his dedication in providing such a worthwhile unseen emergency service for Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Northamptonshire.

We have an interesting and varied programme planned for next year. If you would like further details, or would like to pop along to one of our meetings, please call Lin on (01491) 836800.

We meet on the third Wednesday of the month at Benson village hall at 7.30pm.


OUR president Val welcomed us to the November meeting at Greys village hall and introduced three guests, June, Nina and Patricia.

A get well card and flowers will be sent to Jennifer Polska and we all sent her our best wishes.

Secretary Janet read a letter from Lynn Bayliss, of the Royal Berkshire Hospital, thanking us for the baby blankets and twiddlemuffs, which are so valuable to dementia patients.

A bulletin, produced by Merryl and previously circulated, was felt to be an excellent idea (the concept having been borrowed from Sonning Common WI).

Merryl asked for comments: was more or less information needed; should photos be included etc.?

The first Knit and Natter get-together in Val’s home was enjoyed, although there was more nattering than knitting!

Lunch at the Catherine Wheel proved very good value. The next lunch, at the same venue, will be on Monday, December 12 from noon.

Members were invited to join Val at her home on November 21 to discuss next year’s programme.

Val introduced our speaker, Jane Stubbs, author of Thornfield Hall, in which the classic story of Jane Eyre is retold by the servants from “below stairs”.

To better understand her main character, the housekeeper Mrs Fairfax, Jane showed a dressmaker’s dummy in a replica Victorian dress, which she proceeded to disrobe, layer by layer, down to the corset.

This was “straight-laced” — one tug on the lace and it was undone, hence the term “bodice ripper”.

It was indeed a delightfully light-hearted look at the daily life of women in Victorian times.

Jane ran through the events of the life and reign of Queen Victoria to remind us how life slowly improved for everyone but particularly women, during this period.

Even so, it was well into the 20th century before women studying at university would be awarded degrees.

Merryl thanked Jane for her excellent and entertaining talk and expressed her gratitude to be present and so felt the rest of us.

We will be having our Christmas party at Greys village hall on Wednesday, December 14 at 2.30pm, when we will be entertained by the Peppard Primary School choir.


PRESIDENT Margaret Spratley opened the November meeting by welcoming all members and introducing our speaker Paul Mainds, director of the National Paralympic Heritage Trust.

He gave us a very interesting insight into the history and working of the trust, reminding us that Stoke Mandeville Hospital was the birthplace of the Paralympics.

The vote of thanks was given by Mollie Carter.

The annual meeting began with Margaret thanking her committee for all their hard work during her year in office and the members for all their support during a very enjoyable and successful year.

She said she was very pleased to announce that Jo Martin had been unanimously elected to take over the role of president for the forthcoming year.

Helen Balkwell and Jan Connelly have been appointed to the committee.

Flowers and a gift were presented to Margaret as retiring president and to Mollie Carter, who has retired after four years on the committee, by Sue Walden on behalf of the WI.

Teas for the meeting were kindly provided by Pat Sharpe, Pamela Cox and Christine Hatfield.

A day trip to Blenheim Palace is arranged for members on December 7.

Our next meeting will be the Christmas party in the village hall on December 8 at 7.30pm

If you are interested in joining us, please call either Helen on 07889 539605 or Jo on 07803 505665.


PRESIDENT Pat Eades welcomed 30 members and two visitors to the November meeting and gave birthday greetings to Di Painter, Maureen George and Catherine Markcrow.

Pat reported that the final meeting of the South Chiltern Group, hosted by Peppard WI, had been a very happy afternoon and representatives from other Wls in the new Beechwood group had also attended.

Eighty-five resolutions in total had been put forward for the 2017 annual meeting in Liverpool but, sadly, the resolution put forward by Harpsden WI had not been accepted.

Those that were selected included alleviating loneliness, more action on FGM, maternal mental health services, welfare and safe spaces for women and children in refugee camps, supporting women’s refuges and keeping microplastic fibres out of our oceans.

The national federation is appealing for WI recipes or cookbooks for the national recipe archive. Long-standing members of the WI may well have such a thing among their cookery books.

News & Views, the Oxfordshire federation’s magazine, is appealing for photos for its covers and all the specifications for images are listed in the November/December issue.

Looking ahead to interesting days in 2017, there is a unique opportunity to experience two diverse accounts of the First World War at Benson village hall on February 22.

Sir Hugo Brunner will give a talk about his father, Felix, who was in the Royal Field Artillery, and Ruth Rogers will explain how she was the head of Joey the warhorse in the hit stage show.

Patricia Williams is organising an outing to the Cotswolds on Decemebr 8.

The bring and buy stall did brisk business in aid of WI funds and the raffle in aid of the Denman Appeal was won by Anne Thornton.

Tony and Rosemary Hadland were the excellent speakers and they told of their visits to the Falkland Islands.

Tony’s household had been in touch with a family friend in the Falklands who was a councillor and negotiated with the Argentines prior to the 1982 invasion.

Also, Rosemary and Tony’s son had served in the RAF on the islands and had acquired knowledge of the many aspects of the history and life there and was keen to share it with his parents.

The Falkland Islands are 8,000 miles from England.

The archipelago is about 180 miles wide and there are more than 700 islands, the two biggest being East and West Falkland. East Falkland consists of two parts, linked by an isthmus on which are Darwin and Goose Green, two small settlements made famous in the Falklands War.

The journey to the islands took 52 hours via Madeira to Santiago de Chile, then flying along the Andes to Punta Arenas in Patagonia before the final hop to Mt Pleasant.

The weather is very much like that in north-east England. The winds reach 20mph and the rainfall is about 24in a year.

The islands were first sighted in 1592 and in 1690 the first landing was made and by 1833 the British were living there.

Both whaling and the wool industry are in decline but there are more owner-
occupied farms now. Oil extraction is the big business now.

The total population is 4,280, including about 1,300 service personnel. Stanley, the capital, has a population of 2,300.

Rosemary’s slides were a delight and showed the low colourful houses, built mainly from flat-pack.

A slide showed the village hall in Goose Green, the second largest settlement, where people were held by the Argentines during the invasion.

The roads are very rough, made mainly with broken stones, and there is a very necessary 40mph speed restriction.

The most southerly suspension bridge in the world is on the islands.

The best means of getting around is by light aircraft or helicopter.

Rosemary’s slides depicted the landscape with pristine sand and the flowers, lupins and daisies, growing close to walls to avoid the ever-present wind.

A good reason to visit the Falkland Islands is to see the wildlife. There are five types of penguins, including emperor, gentoo, rockhopper and macaroni and six species of albatross.

Birds of prey abound, as do geese, ducks, cormorants, wrens, snipe and the tussock bird. Also to be found are sea lions, fur seals, dolphins and elephant seals.

A well-earned vote of thanks for an extremely interesting and well-presented talk by Tony and Rosemary was given by Ann Lincoln. The competition was for a picture of a penguin and was won by Jean Newman with Di Painter second and Judith Young third.

The next meeting will be at Harpsden village hall on December 14 when Tony King will present “Another opening; another show” and the competition will be for a Christmas cracker.

Members are reminded to bring a present for the Secret Santa basket.

The meeting will begin at 2.30pm. Do come along and enjoy some seasonal hospitality.


THE first complete collection of photographic information and guide notes to the wild birds of Britain and Ireland has recently been compiled and published by the RSPB.

Brian Clews assisted in the compilation of this reference book and he was our return guest speaker on November 2.

Bird migration was the title of his talk, which was written specially for our meeting and was delivered without notes but with many diagrammatic and photographic aids.

Migration in the bird world actually is taking place all the time. We think of it taking place only in winter and spring whereas in fact it happens for most of the year.

From February to May birds come into the country, usually from Africa or Spain, and then we see a second season in July and August through to November when everything reverses.

One of the mysteries is whether birds use the same routes on the way here and back. Some of this information can now be recorded as some small birds have been ringed and fitted with satellite tracking so their migratory patterns can be monitored.

There were many surprising facts and figures about the birds visiting our shores, for example, 1.7 million swallows migrate here along with 32,000 cuckoos and 750,000 fieldfares.

From the 100,000 species of birds in the world 40,000 are migratory.

There followed a detailed explanation about the adaptations of certain birds to the prevailing circumstances of weather and conditions, for example, when they fly over mountains, desert or sea, and the necessary changes they need to do that. Some birds can fly up to five miles above the land.

Tracking devices have revolutionized the understanding of migratory patterns which could only be guessed before.

Arctic terns circumnavigate the globe every two years, spending one winter in the Arctic and the next in the Antarctic, and some sea birds spend the whole of their migratory time at sea.

There followed some interesting facts about other migratory species, moths, butterflies and even sharks.

Brian was a very engaging speaker and was very happy to answer members’ questions. He has promised a return visit next year with a new subject.

One of our members remarked she could listen to him all night. Praise indeed.

The vote of thanks was given by Gina Foden.

Forthcoming events are as follows: January 4 — Members’ evening; February 1 — Annual meeting.

A full event list will be published in the New Year.

Our meetings are held in the Hannen Room, Mill Green, on the first Wednesday of the month at 7.30pm.


WE hosted the last of the South Chiltern group meetings on October 26.

Elaine Douglas, our vice- president, was in the chair and visitors included Pauline Goddard, the county chairman, and Pat Eades, the county trustee representative, and members of Greys, Sonning Common and Stoke Row WIs.

These three WIs will be joining Harpsden, Peppard and Shiplake in the newly formed Beechwood group, which will meet for the first time on March 30, 2017 in Sonning Common.

Pat Eades will serve as the new group convenor.

Ruth Whitaker, the retiring group convenor, was presented with a plant and thanked for all her hard work over the last six years.

Then, with the help of our speaker Peter Tickler, we drew up two characters who may appear in our first crime novel — when we get round to writing it!

Tea was enjoyed with a buffet table laden with goodies.

Each table worked to complete a literary quiz and prizes were awarded to the winners before the raffle was drawn and South Chiltern group was no more.

We look forward to our meetings in the Beechwood!

At our November meeting members and guests were welcomed by Ruth Whitaker who thanked members for the support given by so many at the recent group meeting.

She reminded members to pay for their Christmas lunch at Badgemore Park Golf Club on Friday, December 9 and for our visit to the Mill at Sonning to see High Society on Saturday, January 7.

Our book club will next meet on November 28.

Erica Cunningham, our local florist, then demonstrated several seasonal arrangements, which she kindly offered for a raffle.

This resulted in us having two raffles that afternoon, one for the Denman College Appeal and one for Peppard WI funds.

Members eagerly bought tickets for both, even if some lost them before the raffles were drawn, after we had partaken of delights from a particularly attractive tea table.

Tim Valentine will entertain members, husbands and friends at our next meeting on December 14.


IN November we had our annual Christmas tea and fair, which went well, and all were pleased with the result.

Thank-you all the WIs in the Thames group who kindly came and supported us.

One sad bit of news is the death of a much-loved and long-standing member Jill Bland.

She had been a physiotherapist locally and was also a delightful artist. She will be much missed.

Now we are looking forward to our Christmas lunch which we now hold at the Flower Pot at Aston in December.


PRESIDENT Margaret Pyle welcomed all members and visitors to our November meeting on a coolish afternoon.

She began proceedings by saying that the record of the October meeting was available for all to see. She told us that our subscriptions for 2017 were due and that the calendars were on sale. Margaret also said that boards were being sent round — one for volunteers to provide table flowers for each meeting to give a vote of thanks to the speaker and help with the teas and the other for volunteers to make mince pies/shortbread for our December meeting. Thanks to all who came forward.

Margaret Seal gave out the birthday buttonholes.

The clubs continue to do quite well.

The book club had met on the Monday before the meeting and a Scrabble group meeting took place on November 23.

Two walks were planned for the month but no suitable films could be found for the cinema group this month.

Our attention was drawn to an event at Grazeley village hall on February 28 at 1.30pm for 2pm when Carole Williams will have a selection of the dresses worn on Strictly Come Dancing. She will also have a model with her to show them off.

She will let us into some of the secrets of the show and the gossip.

This is expected to be a popular event, so we are advised to apply early. The cost is £17. which includes “sparkly bubbles and nibbles”

This event is publicised in the latest issue of Berkshire WI News.

Margaret then introduced our speaker, Nick Brazil, who spoke about “Castles in the air”, a very interesting, and often amusing, account of the weird and wonderful inventions that almost made it to the Patent Office.

His slides took us into the bizarre world of inventions from the late 18th to early 20th centuries.

The items included a rainwater catching hat, a sewing machine that you could talk to, various cycling machines, a pedestrian catcher and a closed cot for babies with colic (so you could not hear them crying).

Thanks again, Nick, for a very enjoyable talk.

All this excitement was followed by the usual cup of tea and biscuit before the raffle was drawn.

I am also pleased to report that Brenda’s bring and buy table and Betty’s raffle made almost £100 between them — thanks to all those who contributed.

Rosehill WI meets at St Barnabas’s village hall in Emmer Green on the first Wednesday in the month at 2pm. We would make any visitors very welcome.


THIRTY-SIX members and three visitors were given a warm welcome by Jenny Ward, our president, at the November meeting.

Apologies and sickness were recorded and get well wishes sent. The usual business matters followed.

Carol Townhill, our vice-treasurer gave the financial report and reminded members that subscriptions for next year were due.

Gill Hayward, chair of fund-raising, reported that funds of £122 were raised at our November village coffee morning and we were well on our way to being able to donate to four local community projects from funds raised during 2016.

Gill reminded members that our next village coffee morning would be at the village hall on December 10 at 10.30am.

There would be festive sales tables and mince pies and Greenshoots would be there with their usual products plus Christmas wreaths and gifts. Gill said everyone was welcome to attend and we would love to see members of other WIs who would be made very welcome.

Once again, members have been very active in donating Christmas items and making contributions to the tombola and thanks were given to them.

Sue Hedges, our secretary, highlighted the items in the monthly bulletin.

Reminders were given of final dates for our Christmas lunch at Badgemore Park Golf Club and our January evening dinner at the Shoulder of Mutton.

We had received invitations from Harpsden and Peppard WIs to attend their Christmas parties.

Anne Chivers and seven other members had been to Benson village hall to hear Barry Collett’s talk on his world of music.

Barry has given other talks, usually about a specific composer with examples of their music. This time he played music and the audience had to guess the composer.

Before retirement, Barry was the director of music at Rutland College and he is the founder of the Rutland Sinfonia which has 70 players.

His exceptional talent in keeping the audience enthralled throughout did not disappoint.

Alison Bishop, our programme secretary, then introduced our speaker for the evening, Richard Anderson.

He served in the army and soon dispensed with the microphone as he had developed a loud voice during his time in the military.

After retirement, he joined Rotary and was a very keen member, becoming involved with its work and, in particular, helping to rid the world of polio.

He visited India to see first hand the work being done there and how much there was still to do.

Over the next few years he visited India many times and funds raised by Rotary contributed to the eradication of polio from the country.

Richard was made the polio officer for his Rotary club in recognition of all the work and dedication he had given to the cause.

He now gives talks to raise awareness that polio still exists in a few parts of the world and there is still work to be done. Last year he raised £2,800.

He has twice received the Paul Harris award from Rotary International.

For his quiz, Richard had brought various objects for us to guess what they were used for and this caused much amusement — and totally wrong guesses.

Megan Short and Lesley Davis scored the most points.

Richard was an excellent speaker and is to be recommended (and we could hear every word he said clearly!)

Sue Frayling-Cork gave the vote of thanks.

Richard was then asked to judge our own competition of antique objects.

The winner was Angela Thorne with a very early wake-up bedside lamp. Anne Driver was second with a gold pocket watch and Margaret Warwick was third with a lead piping measure.

Richard gave a short review of all the items entered.

The flower of the month competition was won by Jenny Ward with a beautiful rose.

Jenny closed the meeting by saying she hoped to see everyone at our Christmas party in December.


PRESIDENT Joan Jolley opened the meeting on November 16 with a warm welcome to all members.

She reported back on both the group meeting and the laying of the WI poppy wreath at the Shiplake war memorial on Remembrance Sunday.

She told the meeting that the next walk would be on November 28, starting in Windsor and following the route of the new walk created to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday.

Pam Hudgell began taking names for the Christmas lunch at the Crown in Playhatch.

Joan then announced that the new Shiplake WI banner had been completed.

Rachel Lloyd, Susan Partridge, Frances Lefebure and Shirley Abraham worked together over the summer to create a wonderful piece of quilting and stitching to celebrate the centenary.

They had brought it along to the meeting for all the members to admire.

The front of the banner displays a quilted Viking ship and on the reverse are the names of all the members.

The quartet received a resounding round of applause from all those present.

Sue Lines told the meeting about the arrangements for the visit to Windsor to see the Queen’s dresses.

She suggested some further outings to the Mill at Sonning theatre to see High Society in January, a tour of the Chiltern Valley Winery, also in January, and a trip to the Phoenix Theatre in London to see Calendar Girls in March.

Finally, Joan reviewed the information in News & Views, including the First World War talk at Benson.

She asked ladies to remember to vote for one of the excellent selection of competition entries for “an elephant” and to look at the sales table where there were craft packs brought in by Janet Matthews.

The tea hostesses for the afternoon were Yvonne Watson with help from the committee catering team.

The names of the ladies who would be on the birthday table were announced.

The speaker was Margaret Thomas, who is a community fund-raiser for Sue Ryder.

Margaret gave a short history of the life of Lady Ryder and told us how she had always been interested in nursing and helping others.

As a young woman, she had been in the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry.

She was married and widowed by the age of 19.

After the war she helped with relief work and was involved with caring for those who had been liberated from prisoner of war camps.

At the age of 30, she started the Sue Ryder Foundation, which was set up with donated money and a small inheritance.

She was introduced to Leonard Cheshire and they married in 1959 in India and together started the Cheshire Ryder Foundation.

She insisted that the family lived a frugal life — anecdotally she lived on only bananas and milk!

She began to do tours, talks and public speaking to promote her work.

She was awarded the OBE and a peerage, choosing to become Lady Ryder of Warsaw.

Margaret went on to describe her huge legacy.

The foundation set up homes all over the world, from Ireland to India, and there are now more than 100. But complex care is very expensive and there is never enough money.

There are seven hospices in the UK, six neurological centres and a specialist home support service.

There are 500 retail outlets, which are essential to maintain the service offered, which includes a total of 2.7 million hours of care.

Our local Sue Ryder hospice is at Nettlebed, where they take patients with any life-limiting condition.

There is a day centre, day therapy, craft therapy and activities, social access and respite for relatives.

There are 12 in-patient beds which offer exceptional care for the short- or long-term, as necessary. The Nettlebed hospice also offers bereavement counselling.

The local community gives huge support but the hospice needs all the help it can get.

It costs £3.1 million a year to supply the services but Sue Ryder only receives £800,000 from statutory funding, so fund-raising is essential.

The speaker was thanked by Lynn Boros.

Members then enjoyed the usual tasty tea.

The winner of the flower of the month competition was Joyce Vernon with a lovely, dark red rose.

The winner of the elephant competition was Jackie Dulewicz with a stunning embroidered cushion. The December meeting will be our Christmas party and members were reminded to bring a gift for Santa’s basket.

More details about Shiplake WI are on the village’s website and visitors are always welcome.


WE had an informal gathering to hear from our members about anything special they wished to talk about and could illustrate.

What a varied set of topics there proved to be.

Judy had brought in a suitcase full of US naval mementos, including a full summer and winter uniform and wartime money.

Penny had brought in a slightly more modern dress she had bought with her first pay packet 50 years ago to feed her dancing desires.

We are lucky to have such imaginative members among us!

Sheena recounted some family reflections on the German occupation of the Channel Islands, Maureen told us her grandmother’s story illustrated with a tiny prayer book and Daphne spoke about some lovely caved dolphins (figures) she had brought back from a visit Belize.

Tilley recounted a special race track day she had won in Spain and Stella told us of a few of her chance meetings which turned out to bring pleasing consequences.

Notices included collecting tickets for the Christmassy events coming up, giving our best wishes to our president Jeanette for her hospital stay and congratulating her on taking over the village shop with her daughter, which she will do in the New Year.

We responded to a couple of WI invitations, including a get-together service which will be run at the chapel for a member who can no longer attend (Angela Spencer-Harper and her husband).

We were reminded of our next meeting, which is the Christmas one where we should be entertained by a live band plus have our usual good fun and meal.

This is now likely to be held in Checkendon village hall due to the size required as we will have guests joining us.

The craft group will be showing members how to make some timely tree decorations at their meeting and the book group, lunch group and games group continue to have a good time at their own chosen pursuits.

A nicely prepared supper and drinks helped to provide a very pleasant evening.

We were reminded to bring goods for Berkshire Women’s Aid, whom we support at Christmas, to the next meeting and also a raffle prize to make the occasion even more special.


FOR our November meeting, Lt Cdr Simon Tapping, who is a local resident, gave us a talk on the Royal Navy with the aid of promotional videos.

He gave us an insight into the role of the navy and answered varied questions from members.

We were joined for the evening by Ken Cook, also a local resident, who served on minesweepers in the Mediterranean during the Second World War.

Our next meeting on December 14 will be a Christmas social evening with carols.

On January 11 our speaker will be Margaret Peach on “Animals in art” while at the February 8 meeting Christine Green will give a demonstration of paper cutting.

We meet in the town hall at 7.30pm. If you would like to come and meet us, you will be warmly welcomed. For more information, please call Kath Gomm on (01491) 612939.


“RED kites in the Chilterns” was the subject of David Glover’s talk at our November meeting.

These handsome birds have been very successfully re-introduced in this area over the past few years following a period when they became almost extinct due to being regarded as pests.

In the 19th century a payment of one old penny was made for each carcass brought in.

Also targeted were kingfishers but fortunately these survived.

With a 5ft wingspan, red kites are impressive fliers. They are mostly scavengers, although they do also take pheasant chicks and small live animals.

David had brought along a selection of RSPB Christmas cards, calendars, diaries etc to encourage us to shop early for Christmas.

Members have been persuaded to donate to our own Denman College via the “Smartie” tubes to be filled with 20p coins, More than £200 has been donated so far with more to come.

Our next meeting will be our Christmas lunch and prior to that, at the beginning of December, we are looking forward to a demonstration on “Getting ready for Christmas” at Warings Bakery in Reading.

Our plans for the New Year include tea at a member’s house at the beginning of the month followed by a talk on alpacas at our usual business meeting on the third Tuesday in January.

Meetings take place at Goring Heath parish hall, opposite St John’s Church on the B471, on the third Tuesday of the month, starting at 10am.

We have a wide variety of speakers and activities. Visitors are welcome. For more information, please call 0118 984 1696.


ANN LARDEN welcomed the members and two guests, Sally and Vivienne, to the meeting on November 16.

We sang Jerusalem accompanied by Audrey Hawthorne on the piano.

Birthday girls were Betty Thomas, Evelyn Howes, Joyce Sopp and Kathy Tarrant.

Our speakers were Luci and Claire, from Corbett Chocolates in Goring, and what a lovely afternoon we had, tasting all that delicious chocolate!

We had demonstrations of all the processes that go into making their beautiful handmade chocolates followed by a retail opportunity for some lovely Christmas presents.

This was followed by an equally delicious tea thanks to Patricia Solomons, Dot Tyler and Joyce Sopp and a helping hand from Hazel Tagg.

The theatre trip this month was to see Oliver! in Oxford, which was an excellent production.

The competition for a decorated box was won by Jean Taplin and the bloom of the month competition was won by Shirley Bryant.

Please come and join our meetings as you will be very welcome. We meet on the third Wednesday of the month in the village hall. Hope to see you there.

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