WI Reports

Rugeley WI

Rugerley WI hosted the Rose & Shamrock Group of WI’s for their October meeting.

Around 50 people attended the evening held at St Paul’s Community Hall.  President Barbara Coppard welcomed everyone to the event and introduced Federation Vice Chairman, Verity Conner to say a few words to the attending group.

Verity offered any help and advice to the WI groups, if so needed and informed members of forthcoming WI events.  The minutes of the previous Rose & Shamrock Group meeting held at Cannockwood and Gentleshaw were read and signed off.

Our speaker for the evening was Ian Pettit, giving a talk about the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ which is the Maori name for New Zealand.

Ian’s hobby is photography and he delighted the audience with slides and a talk about his holiday spent in New Zealand.

 Members were shown slides of rolling countryside, volcanic mountains and the beautiful coast line of the north of the island. In contrast, members were shown waterfalls and fjords and lots of rain in the south of the country but still very stunning.

Members showed their appreciation to Ian in the usual way. Francis from Cannockwood and Gentleshaw WI thanked Ian for a very interesting and informative evening.

Cakes, sandwiches and lots of tea and coffee were consumed during the break.  To complete the evening a quiz and a raffle were held.

Baskets of flowers were presented to Verity and Minna (Group Co-ordinator), for all their support.  Everyone was wished a safe journey home after a very enjoyable evening.

If you would like to join our WI or come along for a taster, please contact Barbara Johnson on 01889 586855 or Barbara Coppard 01889 579753.  Rugeley WI meet at St Paul’s Community Hall, Rugeley every last Wednesday in the month.  Our speaker for November is Glynis Miles ‘Having Fun with Sign Language’.

Yoxall WI October meeting.

‘ Aboard The Jam Butty’

Our information newsletter had been sent out by email so all our members had already seen the details. Business was very quickly dealt with. A clipboard was distributed for offers of cake making for the Beryl Behague Christmas Boxes. Yoxall WI, again, providing the cakes to go in the boxes.

We then welcomed Helen and Ian Tidy to give us a talk into their business WildSide. Briefly, they run a market stall selling jam and other preserves from a small 27 foot engineless boat, known as The Jam Butty, that they tow behind their main narrow boat.

After a period of illhealth Helen explored making jams and her husband Andy had an enthusiasm for narrowboating. They decided to combine the two and set up WildSide handmade preserves sold mainly from the boat.

They had noticed that the towpath hedgerows were an overflowing larder of wild food and Helen began to experiment with making different homemade preserves. Many of the ingredients are foraged which ensures that the preserves are made with the freshest of ingredients allowing them to capture the taste of the season. Keeping their ingredients locally sourced is one of their main aims so when it has not been foraged, much of it comes from local gardens, farm shops and markets. WildSide Handmade Preserves is the end result of all their hard work. They are happy supporters of the Canal and River Trust who have kindly given their permission to forage on their land, and they make an annual donation to the trust.

All of their preserves are handmade in open pans and the product range has grown over the years. Popular jams include Chuckleberry, Damson and Cinnamon Plum, marmalades are also a little different with flavours like Sloe Whisky Seville and Lemon and Lavender Marmalade. Chutneys and vinegars complete their range of products.

During the summer months they travel around the UK’s inland waterways, selling preserves as they go. Alan has joined all the local Facebook sites and their website also gives their  exact location. They attend a number of canalside festivals, stopping at villages and canal junctions along the way.

During the winter months they can be found at home in Aldridge making stock ready for the next season. They will deliver within a 5 mile radius or you can just call in to their home. They have found mail order to be unsuccessful, as jars were often arriving broken.

Helen and Ian’s talk was an interesting insight into their business and they finished off the evening by bringing in some of their products for us to buy. I don’t think they went home with many unsold jars. Our next meeting is on Wednesday November 8th at 7.30 pm in Yoxall Parish Hall. We will have Helen Johnson giving a talk on ‘ Christmas Past’. Do come and join us, visitors are always made very welcome and your first 3 visits are free!



            Our October meeting started with song: “Jerusalem”, the W.I. anthem, and “Happy Birthday”, which we sing to any members whose birthday falls during the month of the meeting.

            Our thoughts soon turned to food, as Kath Reynolds, our Speaker, told us about the changes in available foods since WW2. It was a quick trip down memory lane for most of us; we had experienced the end of rationing and the development of fast food, not to mention the foreign foods which started to make their way into our homes and stomachs.

            We now have an unlimited choice of foods. What a contrast with the rather limited and often stodgy meals of our childhood! Rationing had started in the early 1940s, when butter, sugar and bacon were limited to ensure fair shares for all. It ended finally in 1954. Our parents and grandparents would now be amazed, and probably bemused, by the items in even the smallest supermarket – indeed, by the supermarkets themselves.

            We were reminded of the good old favourites such as Spam (we sang along with Monty Python and the Spam song!), many sorts of offal, and we remembered with much affection the dependable Be-Ro cookery book, still used today in its modern incarnation.

            Stone played a part in the development of modern food, when miller Richard Smith developed a loaf from the wheat germ which had previously been thrown away due to the liking for white bread. The name of the loaf? Hovis. And yes, we remembered the Golden Hill advert, with the baker’s delivery boy pushing his bike.

            There were some surprises: many of us hadn’t realised that tinned rice pudding was available as early as 1917. There was a cry of “Oven-baked is best, because of the skin!” from the audience.

            All this reminiscing made us hungry, so tea and cake were served.

            Our next meeting takes place on Wednesday 8th November, when Steve Booth will talk on “Stone and the canals”. If you would like to join us, you will be very welcome. We meet at Aston-by-Stone Village Hall at 7.30 p.m.             If you would like to know more about us, please visit astonbystonewi.secretary@gmil.com

Etchinghill WI Press Report OCTOBER 2023 

We were welcomed to Wednesday’s meeting by our President Margaret Devey, who started by reading out apologies from various absent members. Birthday wishes were passed on to Lynn Baxter and Mary Davis.

Margaret went on to introduce this evening’s speaker Glynis Myles, who was accompanied by her assistant Maggie. The talk was entitled Signing with Smiles

Glynis has been working with adults with learning disabilities for many years and during that time has come across many with deafness. This limits their ability to communicate as there are very few people in that field able to use sign language. Having obtained tickets to a karaoke evening for the deaf and having enjoyed herself as well as being amazed at the wonderful atmosphere, she decided to learn sign language.  Over time this has enabled her to achieve great satisfaction in being able to fully integrate with the deaf community. She has become involved with a community choir using sign language to popular songs and has performed at various venues including Symphony Hall Birmingham. Glynis described these events as being heartwarming and fun filled.  She finished her talk by getting us all involved in using sign language to a rendition of “Delilah” and “Sweet Caroline “We all enjoyed this inspirational and fun talk and the vote of thanks was given by Sue Evans

 To mark our groups 75th anniversary, we are going to plant an Acer tree at the village hall garden. This will be carried out in October / November as we understand it’s the best time for planting trees. Members have also been advised they can participate in the tree decorating ceremony at St Augustine’s Rugeley however, they will need to supply their own tree and battery lights.

The competition this month was a picture of an unusual sign. First prize went to Kathy Baxter, second prize went to Marion Henaughan and third prize was won by Joyce Setterfield.  We then enjoyed a fun game based on the TV series Blankety Blank.

We were advised of upcoming events such as the Group Meeting hosted by Rugeley Wi on 25th October and the charity coffee morning arranged by Mary Davis on the 1st of November at Etchinghill village hall.

We meet every second Wednesday of the month at the village hall and new members are very welcome. If you are interested come along for a taster session. Alternatively, you can check out our email at etchinghillwistaffs@gmail.com

Kingstone WI

The members at the October meeting of Kingstone WI were please to welcome Lisa, married to Grant, Head Gardener at Sandon Hall, and Becky, who are both gardeners in, it must be said, the very small team looking after the gardens of the Hall.

The Hall has been the ancestral home of the Earls of Harrowby since 1776 when Nathaniel, Ist Baron

Harrowby had bought a shooting lodge and had had a grand Georgian House  built in the grounds by Samuel Wyatt. Disaster struck in 1848, when the Hall was so badly damaged by fire that it had to be rebuilt. The existing neo-Jacobean style house was designed by renowned architect William Burn and was completed in 1854.

The current owners, Conroy Ryder, 8th Earl of Harrowby, and his wife live part of the time at the Hall and have had a public wing and fifty acres of gardens renovated for use as a wedding venue. This is where Grant and our speakers come in. Grant became Head Gardener in 2016. With 50 acres of garden, plus large areas of woodland, Grant was able to have just one helper, an apprentice and a team of volunteers. All changes are made with wildlife in mind. Lord Harrowby agrees that this is very important. Then, at the beginning of the COVID pandemic the business was shut down overnight and Grant and Lisa were left on their own to do what they could to keep this huge area of land from going back to its former state. Even with all their hard work it took until 2022 to get it back as it was.

Text Box:  A lot of the design has to be done with photoshoots for weddings in mind, as this is where money comes from to sustain the maintenance of the Hall and its gardens. The Amphitheatre is now a beautiful rose garden, home to 1,108 rose bushes! These, on Lady Harrowby’s instruction, are highly scented varieties in pinks and creams. It takes the team three or four days to prune them! The 59 urns near the house are replanted twice a year and the potager, an ornamental kitchen garden tended constantly. A beautiful avenue of 400 white cosmos (which must take some deadheading!), bordered by espaliered apple and pear trees is a must for a wedding photograph (see above).

New additions to the restoration process are being planned all the time. Work on the Orangery began in 2022 be used for future indoor weddings. Wisteria has been planted to form a spectacular canopy in a few years’ time. At the end of WW1 a delegate from every country involved came to Sandon and planted a tree for their country. The area became overgrown and virtually disappeared, but Grant has Identified an area to the back of the South Lawn as where it was. This restoration has begun with underplanting and paths. Wonderfully appropriately, the first thing to come up were red poppies.

This illustrated talk revealed much new information about Sandon Hall and its gardens and many members resolved to go to the next Plant Fair held there, when there would be an opportunity to see some of the beautiful gardens first hand.

The business part of the meeting was very positive. It was an unexpected bonus to learn the Kingstone has won the County Press Report Shield again and there is much for members to look forward to in the coming months. A card-making workshop will be run by Team President Jean Gallimore, there will be an October Lunch for members in the Community Room and the Group Carol Service, being organised by Kingstone WI and held in St John the Baptist Church, is on 6th December. The January Party will include a Murder Mystery play, plans for which are underway. Val Laflin suggested that, now that the days are getting shorter, it is time to get out the knitting needles and begin knitting angels for this year’s angel bombing of the school and wider village.

The next meeting is on Monday 6th November at 7.30pm in Kingstone Village and when Alison will introduce members to ‘Book Folding’. This promises to be a fascinating evening and, if you would like to sample WI, do come along. Visitors are always welcome.

For more information contact : secretarykingstonewi@gmail.com



Our October meeting was our annual Harvest Auction plus a bring and share supper. Members had generously provided an array of produce, gifts and bargains to be auctioned. Once again Clare Preece did an outstanding job as “resident auctioneer” and the bidding began. There were delicious home-grown tomatoes,apples,beetroot and a bouquet of curly kale, not forgetting a cuddly marrow! Other items included lamps, a teapot, perfume, toiletries, books and a beautiful pair of winter boots.

Halfway through the auction we stopped to eat our supper. As usual members had brought a lovely selection of savoury and sweet nibbles to feast on. We sat and chatted until it was time to commence the bidding. Everyone had a great deal of fun trying to outbid each other and at the end of the evening there were some real bargains to take home.

Once again our W.I. will be putting a display of poppies on the memorial at Trysull Church. Anyone wishing to help can go down to the church at 11am on Monday 6th November.

Looking ahead to Christmas, we are having lunch at the Red Lion, Bobbington on Saturday December 2nd at 1.00pm. Also there will be a Christmas social evening on our normal meeting night with a drink, mince pies and live music.

Our next meeting is on Thursday November 9th in the Village Hall, Trysull at 7.30pm. Sue Bicknell is showing us how to make Christmas gnomes to hang on the tree. Please bring coloured wool for their hats and white wool for the beards. Eyes and noses are provided, but if you have a glue gun you can bring, it would be very much appreciated. There will also be an opportunity to make other hanging decorations and anyone wishing to make a wreath for the door should bring a wreath ring. We always have a lot of fun at our craft evening so please come and join in.

Wetley Rocks WI Press Report

10th October 2023

An Evening of Wildlife

On an Autumn evening at the Wetley Rocks Women’s Institute, a buzz of excitement and camaraderie filled the air. With the promise of breathtaking wildlife footage and the infectious spirit of community, this month’s meeting proved to be one for the books.

Barbara, the secretary, began proceedings by recapping the previous month’s activities, taking members on a delightful journey down memory lane with the minutes. Meanwhile, Cynthia, our president, relayed the latest news from Stafford, ensuring everyone was kept in the loop about our broader community’s happenings.

We extended our warmest greetings to three new faces joining our ranks. Their presence added to the diversity and vibrancy of the group, hinting at the fresh perspectives and tales they would bring. And for those considering joining, remember – every new member is a testament to the welcoming nature of our Institute!

The evening’s highlight was the much-anticipated film presentation by the gracious Peter Durnell. With a twinkle in his eye and unparalleled expertise, he transported us to the rugged terrains of Scotland, showcasing its wild inhabitants in their majestic splendour. But Peter’s talents didn’t stop there. He then brought the magic closer to home, spotlighting the charming wildlife of the Churnet valley. Both films were an audio-visual treat, offering attendees a rare glimpse into the heart of nature.

Following the screening, attendees were treated to a delightful spread of homemade refreshments. As the aroma of home baked goodies wafted through the air, members chatted animatedly about their favourite moments from the films.

The evening culminated with the eagerly awaited competition judging and the raffle draw. The Wetley Rocks Women’s Institute’s monthly meeting was more than just a gathering – it was a celebration of community, shared passions, and the wonders of nature. For those on the fence about attending, let this be your nudge. Join us next month for another heartwarming and enriching evening!

Next month’s meeting on November 14th is the “Inn Ringers”  with a “pick up” competition of a bell (any medium) other dates to note are the Halloween Event on October 28th in the Village Hall at Wetley Rocks, where the WI will be selling cakes. If you’ve been contemplating joining us, now’s your chance! Your first three meetings are on us.

Hayes Green WI Report of meeting held on 4th October 2023

The October meeting of Hayes Green WI was very well attended with four potential new members visiting to see if the WI is for them.

As a warm up for Halloween we were treated to an entertaining talk delivered to us by Alan entitled “Ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night”. Alan is a retired teacher who now performs his Grandad Songs for adults and children. Alan gave us a good selection of stories, poems, music and film all with a ghostly theme. We watched skeletons dancing in an atmospheric old short Disney cartoon and a short animation set to the well know “Danse Macabre” by the composer Camille Saint-Saëns; this music was familiar to some of us as the theme tune to the Johnathan Creek TV series. Alan evoked a radio programme from the past “Listen With Mother”, remembered fondly by some of the older members of our group, whilst reading a children’s ghost story. Alan also read us a selection of poems with spooky themes. He sang us some folk songs, accompanying himself oh his guitar and getting us to join in with choruses. He demonstrated how a limberjack puppet was used in the past to accompany some street entertainers when they sang. Alan also gave us a rendition of the amusing story/poem “Albert and the Eadsman” by Stanley Holloway. To add to the atmosphere we listened to Alan in a darkened room just lit by his projector screen.

For the competition this moth members brought in their own books of ghost stories and poems, CD of spooky sounds and toy ghost.

Next month we will be holding an auction of items donated by members to raise funds for Hayes Green WI. These funds are used to pay for the speakers and events that are held on the first Tuesday of each month at 7.30pm at the Five Ways Pub in Heath Hayes.



The meeting proved to be  most interesting.  President Jenny Fletcher introduced us to John Wilson and Leslie who were to give  a talk on ‘Buddy Bags Charity’. Johnn started the evening by handing out beautifully knitted teddies  and asked us to give them some love. He explained what the charity was about,  he also brought along a short film to show children receiving the Buddy Bags, which contained these bears. He gave a short history of it’s origins, which were started in Australia.

  The Buddy Bag Foundation is a charity organization located in Sutton Coldfield and founded in 2015 to provide help for children having to enter emergency care after fleeing violent situations at home.  The Buddy Bag contains pyjamas, socks, toileteries, underwear,  a book, pencils and the cutest teddy bear.  The bags are made suitable for babies, children and young people depending on age and gender.  Every item is brand new.   The reason we were asked to hold the teddy and give it love was to transfer these emotions onto the children to let them know they are loved.  Over 55,000 of these Buddy Bags are   distributed  each year and many more will be, till every child in need receives one.

Each Buddy Bag costs £25,.  The foundation is run by a team of volunteers and ambassadors, 100% of all money raised goes direct to the cause  The foundation Buddy Bag brigades provide a unique opportunity for volunteers to get hands-on and support the cause.   A donation supplies a child  entering emergency accommodation with their own Buddy Bag.  You can volunteer to help the foundation or attend to pack the Buddy Bags that go straight to the children. In June 2022 the foundation received The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services in recognition of the   work by it’s volunteers.  They  always need more volunteers, donations and ambassadors.

If you are interested and feel you would like to support this local group you can contact them on Social  Media:The Buddy Bags Foundation or telephone Karen Williams on 079766962986.

Anne Clendon thanked John on our behalf for the talk and said what a fantastic Ambassador he was for The Buddy Bag Foundation.

The competition was won by Barbara Bowman.

There were several raffle prizes won by Anne, Barbara, Michaela,Sally, Anita and Sue.

Jenny brought us up to date with events in the forthcoming weeks. Next meeting will be held on Monday 13th November 2023 At the Great Haywood Memorial Hall at 8.p.m.   There will be a Flower Demonstration by Anita Wright and members from other groups will be invited.  Do come along and join us, always something interesting, usually lots to say, meet new friends and find new interests. You would be very welcome.


The Women’s League of Health and Beauty

Judy welcomed everyone to the September meeting it was great to see so many happy smiling members.   The minutes are sent to all members by email, Judy asked if all were agreed they were correct and signed them. There was quite a lot of information from County, which was on the top table for members to sign if they are interested in attending. Names were taken for our trip to the ABC cinema in Stoke on Tuesday 10th October

Judy then introduced our speaker, Lynn Ashburner, Lynn has written a book on the history of the Women’s League of Health and Beauty. The League was started 1930 by Mary Bagot Stack. Mary Bagot was born in 1883 in Dublin, she suffered some serious illness and found some gentle exercise was helping in her recovery. She encouraged all the ladies she knew to exercise and word soon spread. Mary went to Live in India with her Army Husband and there she learned Yoga and meditation. Returning to England Mary, started the first League group in the YMCA Premises in Regent Street London in March 1930. With trained teachers more groups started and spread all around the country. To encourage more women to join her League Mary organised large rallies in Hyde Park and Wembley when hundreds of women took part. Mary had one daughter, Prunella, and when Mary died Prunella took over and The League is still enjoyed by thousands of women today.

 Pauline Blackmore gave the vote of thanks. The competition for a sporting picture was very well supported and Lynn chose the winner.

The November meeting is on Wednesday 15th November at 7-30pm in Sandon Parish Room, the speaker will be Michael Morton, Where’s My Bag   

 December is our Christmas Meal, this year at The Greyhound Burston

Visitors are very welcome at any of our meetings, we are a very friendly group of ladies from many villages around the area.

  Cannock Women’s Institute

Press Release September 2023

Cannock WI held a games morning at their September meeting.  There were several games to choose from, including Scrabble, Rummikub, Jenga and Connect 4 as well as card games and dominoes.

Those who felt too grown up to play games were provided with a safe space to chat, drink coffee and eat cake.  There was lots of cake!

The games players were provided with score cards and were soon engrossed in their chosen games.  Some ladies discovered something they hadn’t come across before, others settled in to an old favourite and still more set out to destroy all competition. The noisiest table by far was that playing Jenga!  Not just for the racket made by crashing tiles, but also for the exclamations of dismay and shocked reaction of the offending players and those so busy with their own games nearby.

The players had been asked to keep score so that those with the highest took the points for our monthly competition but everyone was given a small prize to take home; even cake eaters.

There was, of course, some WI business which included a warm welcome, and presentation of a welcome pack to new member Margeurite, and to a number of visitors who we hope will become members.  We were also told of several trips and outings planned for the coming months, including a trip to Veolia Waste Management, the theatre and Christmas events. President Meena presented Birthday cards to those celebrating this month and prizes to 3 lucky raffle winners.

Cannock WI meets on the second Thursday of each month at St Luke’s Church Hall. Meetings begin at 10.30 am.  Visitors are always welcome to join us for a cup of tea, a chat and the chance to find out more about WI.  Details can be found on our Facebook page or by contacting Staffordshire Federation of Women’s Institutes.

Cannock Women’s Institute Further information email: cannockwi@gmail.com and www.thewi.org.uk/staffordshire www.facebook.com/oakleafstlukes

Rugeley WI September 2023 Meeting

Rugeley WI members were treated to a fascinating talk and slide show given by Helen Morning from Staffordshire Search & Rescue Team.

Staffordshire Search & Rescue Team (SSARTS) is a highly skilled team of dedicated volunteers who give up a lot of their valuable time to provide a service to the emergency services.

SSARTS is totally funded by donations and provides immediate response to calls from Staffordshire Emergency Planning Department to assist Police, Fire and Ambulance Services to save lives and assist as required.

Helen explained that the service assists in finding missing persons, moving injured patients, and also water searches.  The Service has its own drones, mountain bikes and dog teams. Volunteers train on a weekly basis and are available 24/7/365.

Barbara Johnson gave a vote of thanks to Helen for a very interesting talk and slide show, and wished the team all the best in their future fundraising.

During the evening a raffle and quiz took place and refreshments served.

In October Rugeley WI will be hosting the ‘Rose & Shamrock Group’ for a very interesting evening of entertainment and refreshments. Rugeley WI meet every last Wednesday in the month at St. Paul’s Community Hall, Rugeley at 7:30 p.m.


Outing to Coalport China Museum

It was a lovely sunny September morning when we visited Coalport China Museum. We were welcomed with tea, coffee and biscuits before being divided into two groups. One group was shown how the pottery was made, while the others learnt a little of the history of the factory.

We were told the processes involved in making the china. Bone ash from animals was added to make the pottery look more translucent and delicate but at the same time more durable. We were shown how patterns are applied and had a demonstration of china flower making.

For the second part of our tour, we were taken up to the gallery where beautiful pieces were on display. China was made at Coalport because of its ideal transport links by road and river, and because of the mining nearby. The factory was founded by John Rose in 1795 and manufacture continued until 1926.

Our tour was cut short by the fire alarm going off ! We were taken outside to wait for the fire engine to arrive. Luckily the sun was still shining and there were plenty of seats outside. Just as the fire engine arrived, we were called in for lunch in the Youth Hostel. The unexpected excitement gave us an appetite. Happily, it had been a false alarm, so we were able to continue with the workshop in the afternoon.

Some of us made a Green man, to hang in the garden, whilst others chose pieces of pottery to paint. The Green man looked rather daunting to make as we started off with just a slab of clay. However, our friendly and extremely patient guide showed us how to build up the face, and we all managed to make something quite passable. Whether they will withstand the firing in the kiln remains to be seen! The other group painted some lovely ornaments, which they were able to take home. The visit ended with an afternoon cuppa. Thanks to Jo for organising a really great outing. The staff both in the museum and the Youth Hostel were so friendly and helpful, and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

A very rainy evening, and a last-minute notification that the speaker was unable to come, could have been a recipe for an unsuccessful September WI meeting. In fact, it was far from that!

Congratulations were in order for a number of members who had been members of WI for a considerable time. Two ladies had achieved 60 years and several 40 years. All received a certificate from the Staffordshire Federation, signed by the County Chair.

Reports of several enjoyable events which had taken place since the last meeting were given. These included an Afternoon tea and film (Madam Bovary), an outing to Blithfield Church and Hall, joining Stowe-by-Chartley WI at their open meeting and a cheerful and productive card making workshop led, once again, by Team President Jean Gallimore. Members hoped that Jean would be able to arrange another workshop quite soon; this might be ‘Cards for the Boys’!

Other future events were announced which would keep members busy and entertained over the next months. The first of these was the September Tea and Film afternoon, where members would watch the film ‘Quartet’. Kingstone WI agreed to host the Group Carol Service this year and planning would begin on this immediately. In January, it has been customary to hold a New Year Party.  It was suggested that the entertainment might be a Murder Mystery Play. The last time this was done it was thoroughly enjoyed. Team President Valerie Laflin had found another suitable script which sounded great fun and members were asked to volunteer if they would like to take part.

Fiona Kerby thanked members for their generous contributions of stamps, glasses, glasses cases and printer cartridges for her to take to the Inner Wheel Overseas Rally in October.

There being no speaker, members were given a quiz to fill in on ‘Herbs’. This caused much laughter as, out of the thirteen possible points, the highest score was six and two of the best cooks scored zero! They were awarded books about herbs as prizes!

Refreshments were served and there was time for a good chat.

The next monthly meeting will be on Monday 9th October at 7.30pm in Kingstone Village and will feature a talk by Lisa and Becky on ‘Restoring Sandon Hall Gardens. This promises to be a very interesting evening and, if you would like to sample WI, do come along. Visitors are always welcome. For more information contact: secretarykingstonewi@gmail.com

Etchinghill WI Press Report September 2023        

Our president Margaret Devey opened the September meeting by welcoming a visitor, Margaret Hall. Apologies were read out for absentee members and birthday wishes were passed on to Eileen Jeffries, Glenys Richards and Heather Turner.

The intended speaker for this evening was unable to attend due to illness. Stepping in at the last minute was John Walker who gave a talk entitled Men and Women Same Species Different Animals. Using scientific research into male and female brains John highlighted differences between the two sexes and showed how our brains had evolved throughout the ages. Going back to early man male brains are conditioned in skills such as providing, protecting and using physical strength. Females on the other hand are conditioned toward a more nurturing role. Using some very amusing examples John took us through different ways in which male and female brains tackle life situations.  It is no myth that females can multitask, a skill which often baffles the male brain. Using several examples of interaction between males and females John highlighted in a very amusing way how it can be challenging for each of the species to understand each other. All in all, this was a highly entertaining speech.  The vote of thanks was given by Chris Stinton.

We have several dates for our diaries in the coming months.

Glenys Richards will be restarting the monthly lunch club. The first outing is on Wednesday 4th October at the Hollybush at Salt.

The group meeting will be hosted by Rugeley WI at St Pauls church  on Wednesday 25th October.

The annual coffee morning organised by Mary Davis will be at the village hall on Wednesday 1st November. As before this will be in two sittings and tickets are now on sale.

We concluded the evening with a musical quiz courtesy of Ann Ingleby

We meet every second Wednesday of the month at the village hall so if you are interested come along for a taster session. Alternatively, you can check out the website at etchinghillwistaffs@gmail.com



                The Inn Ringers of Stone came to entertain us at our September meeting. It has been said that the true beauty of music is that it connects people, and this certainly was true. The meeting had started with “Jerusalem”, and later, four members with September birthdays were presented with cards. Little did they know what awaited them later in the meeting, as we sang “Happy Birthday” to them.

                The Inn Ringers of Stone came to entertain us with their accomplished hand bell ringing. This group had started at the Red Lion Inn in Stone in 1977, and now has many members and 116 bells – although 12 bells, rung by 6 members, filled the hall with music on this occasion. The Inn Ringers have appeared on TV and radio, have played at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester and the Barbican in London, and raise much money for charity.

                Old favourites predominated, and members sang along to “Daisy, Daisy”, “My Grand-father’s Clock”, “Oh, Susannah”, and many more. Not a false note was played, the ringers counting as they played to ensure the correct rhythm and tone. The pieces were interspersed with amusing banter about the group, hand bell-ringing history and jokes, so it was a most enjoyable time.

                And what of the birthday girls? Well, they, and 2 “volunteers” chosen from the audience, were called to the front for a rapid lesson in handling the bells; they managed to produce an impressive version of “Mary, Mary, quite contrary” in just a few minutes. They were dubbed “The Aston-by-Stone birthday bell ringers” – or perhaps the “Birthday Belles”?           

                No W.I. meeting would be complete without tea and cakes, details of future meetings, and other information. Our next meeting will take place on Wednesday 11th October. Meetings take place at Aston-by-Stone Village Hall at 7.30, and visitors are always welcome.


Meeting: 14/09/23

We gathered in the Village Hall at Trysull for an evening of Indoor Curling. It had been a few years since we had last played, and some members were new to it so there were several rather amusing attempts before we finally got the hang of how to play.

The stones move on ball bearings, and it takes a while to find out how hard to push them so that they travel over the floor and reach the target. The target has a series of scores on it to aim for. The stones can be pushed by hand or with a pusher and the game can be played either standing or sitting down, so no-one was left out.

We went up two at a time, one team red and the other team blue. A lot of fun and laughter was had urging the players to push the stone a little harder, or maybe not so hard if it overshot the target! Sue Bicknell kept an eye on the score and it was neck and neck for a while, but eventually the red team won. We were all ready for our refreshments after all the fun.

Sue Cotterell won the competition for ‘my greatest sporting achievement’ and Rita Brown won the raffle.

Our next meeting is now on Thursday 5th October because of the Group meeting at Perton the following week. We will meet as usual at the Village Hall, Trysull at 7.30pm and are having a Harvest Auction and Bring and Share Supper. So please bring along any items for the auction, it doesn’t have to be harvest produce. Also anything sweet or savoury for the supper. It is usually a most enjoyable evening, so we look forward to seeing you there.

Yoxall WI

Yoxall WI were back after their short break. Although there had been no meeting in August, several members had enjoyed a day at Mercia Marina and others had joined the Yoxall Art group with a craft meeting.

The September meeting was opened and President Penny welcomed everyone, especially our visitor, Karen. Our monthly newsletter brought us up to date with news from SFWI. It may be only September but it looks as if Christmas is on its way, with the next event organised by county. We are planning to go paperless next month as our newsletter will be sent on to members by email. Doing our bit to help the planet.

Our planned speaker had been unable to come so we had fun with a pub quiz. With bowls of savoury and sweet nibbles to feed our brains we attempted the questions in our team groups. The hall was turned into a hush of collaborative whispers and the scratch of pens on paper. Penny went through the answers and we marked our efforts. An interesting and most enjoyable evening. Our next meeting will be on Wednesday October 11th at 7.30 pm in the Parish Hall. The evening will be a talk by Helen and Ian Tidy on “ Life aboard the Jam Butty” ( a barge ). Do come along and join us, we would love to meet you. Make new friends, join our coffee afternoons, cinema, craft and reading groups.

Wetley Rocks WI – press report

In Wetley Rocks, a special community thrives—the Wetley Rocks Women’s Institute. This spirited group of women recently held an evening that was the epitome of friendship and connection, featuring a hearty meat and potato or cheese pie supper.

Stepping into the village hall, the atmosphere was infused with camaraderie. The enticing smell of freshly cooked pies mixed harmoniously with the buzz of excited chatter and laughter. Tables covered in green gingham were lovingly decorated with flower arrangements, entries for the evening’s floral arrangement competition.

Cynthia, the institute’s president, warmly welcomed everyone, with an extra nod to newcomers. The supper was a traditional delight—meat and potato or cheese pies, served alongside mushy peas and an option of gravy.

The real magic of the evening lay in the sense of unity among these diverse women, all committed to friendship, personal enrichment, and community involvement.

The evening was rounded off with a convivial quiz. Teams sprang to life as Cynthia distributed quiz sheets, turning the hall into a hive of laughter, collaborative whispers, and the scratch of pens on paper.

As the night ended, members lingered, reluctant to part ways but eager for the fellowship the next meeting would surely bring. The Wetley Rocks Women’s Institute offers not just hearty meals and stimulating activities but also a lasting sense of community.

If you’re looking for a welcoming group where friendship blooms as naturally as the floral centrepieces on our gingham tables, look no further. Here, you’ll not only find delicious comfort food and spirited quizzes but also a second family. Come, be a part of something special; here, you’re only a stranger once.

Meetings are held the second Tuesday of every month at 19:30 in Wetley Rocks Village Hall. October’s speaker is Sylvia Burgess who is talking about “Bead Beauty” and the competition is a pick up for a beaded necklace. New members are welcome, there is no requirement to bake or sew, or do any crafting, all you need to be is yourself and the first three meetings are free,



We are back after our short break and full of enthusiasm.  Although there was no meeting in August we have still been enjoying ourselves.  About twelve members enjoyed a tasty breakfast at Whites, this is becoming a popular outing.  On the 8th August a group accepted an invitation from Stowe by Chartley W.I. to join them for a Flower Arranging Demonstration.  A most enjoyable evening. On 12th August Michaela Whalley a member of Great Haywood W.I. held a very successful afternoon tea in aid of Breast Cancer Now, which raised £320. Well done Michaela.  14th August we had an afternoon tea at the Memorial Hall, we could wear posh frocks, so  had to make an effort.    However, really it was an awards ceremony for members who had been in the W.I for forty and fifty years.  The awards were presented by Helen Mancey to:…..  Joan Jones,  Pat Hobbs,  Ann Jones and Isabella Osbourne. They were all presented with  bouquets and framed certificates.  Special thanks were given to Sally Ann Emery who had done the catering, which was superb.  Members said what an amazing afternoon it had been.  Sad farewells were made for a long standing member and friend Val Maltby who passed away in August.  We shall miss your apple cake Val.  A donation from members  will be made to St. Giles Hospice in memory of Val.

September meeting was opened, President Jenny Fletcher welcomed everyone with special welcome to new members: Alison George, Kerry Vernon, Cae Hayes.  Jenny brought us up to date with news from SFWI (Staffordshire Federation of W.I).  events etc.,  It may be September but it looked as if Christmas was on it’s way.  Tonight’s meeting was a Craft Evening, very relaxed.  If you did not want to do any of the items on offer you could sit and have a chat and watch.  There were four tables set out with 8 seats and each one had a different craft to try.  There was a Needle Felting table, you could make a Christmas gnome or whatever you thought you might like….very different.  A table with ladies making Christmas cards, lots of glitter floating around, some lovely cards being made.  Another table learning cross stitching. Not as easy as it looks.  Last but not least Diamond Painting, again lots of glitter, some of the items that had already been made by June Oliver were quite stunning.  A very interesting and definitely most enjoyable evening. Refreshments were served….no cake this week, but plenty of smiles.  This followed by the competition won by Helen,… and the Raffle. with plenty of prizes. Next meeting will be on  Monday October 9th at 8.p.m. at the Memorial Hall Great Haywood.  The evening will be a talk from  ” The Buddy Bags Charity”.  The Competition a knitted or crocheted toy.  Do come along  visit or join us, we would love to meet you.  Make new friends, join our trips, visits, lunches.  You name it we will try and oblige.

The Ridwares WI

Well we were packed to the gunnels for our August meeting with guests from the Blythe WI group. In all we had 17 guests join us for what turned out to be a noisy joyful evening of music, fun and much laughter.

What were we up to you ask?

Well as soon as we dispensed with the business of the day, our President welcomed two of the excellent African drummers from JOLIBA Andy and Emma.

Our members settled down to enjoy summer punch and nibbles served by the committee whilst Andy and Emma laid out the different African Drums.

We were royally enterntained all evneing with the most vibrant music which coincidentally matched Andy and Emma’s outfits.

Some brave souls volunteered to have a go.

As you can see from the photo this entailed a significant degree of utter concentration, with brains attempting to engage with hands to create the most marvellous cacophany of sound.

Some of the ladies cottoned on quite quickly whilst others took a little longer.

However what was very clear was that everyone that volunteered really enjoyed themselves.

Emma was endlessly patient and full of encouragement.

Our competition for the evening was to bring along something you could drum. Emma and Andy agreed to act as Judges.

Some members had brought along some very original drums.

First prize went to Cherry Metcalf with her bathroom bin and wooden spoon.

Second prize went to Marianne Hall with her bucket and mini rolling pin and Third prize was won by Wendy Lamb with her saucepan and wooden spoon.

September got off to a great start with our Take a Break Café.

Every month this attracts friends and neighbours who come together to enjoy a chat, a cuppa and a bacon roll or toasted tea cake.

For some members of our community this is an event they look forward to with relish. 

People know they will find a warm welcome, good food and drink and a chance to purchase some of our home- made goodies to take home to enjoy. Seen here are some of our kitchen volunteers who turn out whatever the weather to ensure our guests have a great time.

Our President Karen Wakefield and new Secretary Kath Parson enjoyed a stimulating and informative evening at the County Showground this month. The event was billed as a President and Secretary update session.

It was pitched just right with around 40 officers each learning from one another. We broke into four groups led by one of the county advisors and all enjoyed sharing how we manage our WI’s, learning from best practice and even from the occasional ‘cock up’ too.

Back in May regular readers may recall we reported on our new marketing materials.

The committee worked hard to incorporate photos taken throughout the year to demonstrate the sheer range of events and activities we get up to. This was all in the hope of attracting new members.

Well, I am absolutely delighted to report that this month we’ve got another two new members. It is so very satisfying when a plan comes to fruition. A big warm welcome to Jean McGill and Cherine Kalsi.

Over the summer the craft group have been very busy creating wonderful items for Christmas. Several members came together to paint stones for our World Kindness Day activities in November,

Coming up:

  • Our eagerly anticipated trip to see Blood Brothers.
  • Some members look forward to visiting VEOLIA to learn how our recycling is managed.
  • Our monthly meeting on the 19th September is ‘20 Ways to lift your Spirits.’ Jan Mitchell is our speaker for the evening.
  • Our fortnightly Craft Session.
  • We host our monthly Take a Break café at the village hall on the 3rd October  between10.30 and 12.00.

Barton under Needwood Women’s institute had a fantastic start to September, firstly with their involvement in the annual Teddy bear / Scarecrow festival weekend, held on the 2nd & 3rd of September. With such a damp August, the weather turned, the sun broke through, and the village had the most glorious sunny weekend this year.

For the first time the WI held a stall at this event, where they sold cakes, jams, and chutneys, whilst also distributing information about the WI and membership. To join in with the theme of the festival, the ladies also held a ‘Name the Bear’ competition. The winning name was Camilla, a distant cousin of the festival mascot Bartie Bear.

With over 37 scarecrow entries and five different categories, the WI were up against some tough competition this year but with their entry of ‘WI Then & Now’. The ladies won a silver medal.

Apart from meeting folk and selling some fantastic produce made by our ladies, the serious side was to also raise awareness of our local sponsored charity, The Pathway Project, which is a women’s refuge based locally.

Without taking a pause for a breath, the ladies held their monthly meeting on the 6th of September, where they welcomed Allison Buckley, a Personal Stylist and Image Consultant who gave a talk on ‘Second Hand’ September. This included a demonstration of seasonal colour analysis and how to be sustainable with your wardrobe, reuse and recycle wherever possible, being the main theme of her talk and demonstration.

A resounding success with all the ladies. If you would like to get in touch with Allison, her email details are:


Barton under Needwood Women’s institute meet on the first Wednesday of every month at 7:30 pm in St James Church village hall. All are welcome.

Hayes Green WI September meeting

The ladies of Hayes Green WI met at Five Ways pub on 5th September to listen to a very interesting talk from Helen about the Staffordshire Search and Rescue charity.  There are 60 operational volunteers who go out on rescues and 10 supporters who do fundraising and administrative tasks.

Staffordshire Search and rescue team support Staffordshire Police and Fire and Rescue and Ambulance emergency services in hunts for high risk missing persons – often people with dementia, the mentally ill or children. Volunteers have weekly practise sessions to become experts in map reading and advanced  searching techniques. The number of call outs received by the charity tripled during the Covid Pandemic and they have been very busy over the spring and summer so far this year.

Staffordshire Search and Rescue fundraise to obtain the £35,000 a year needed to run the service. Volunteers buy their own uniforms, pay for their own fuel to get to call outs and fund some of their own training. 

They are currently looking out for someone with media experience who can join them to help improve the social media and publicity presentations put out by the charity – email chairman@ssart.org if you can help.

After receiving a donation to the charity’s work from Hayes Green WI Helen chose member Jan’s wooden train whistle as the winner of this month’s competition to bring along an unusual compass or whistle.

Stowe By Chartley WI

At our August Open meeting over 90 members and guests attended Stowe WI.
Members were from several local WI’s as well as Stowe, and guests from Stowe and Hixon.
After everyone was welcomed by the President Kath Hopcroft, she introduced Claire Wyon, who gave a
presentation ‘ Seasonal & Sustainable Flower Design’.After a 20 year career in Dance, Claire decided to change careers and trained to be a florist.
Her drive is to be as sustainable as possible, trying to not use foam or single use plastic when making her arrangements and displays. She now has a successful business Myrtle Fox and Maude. myrtlefoxandmaude.com

She prepared 2 wonderful arrangements which were later used as raffle prizes, 2 lucky ladies were able to take them home.
A vote of thanks was given by Jean.
After refreshments of cheese, biscuits and of course lovely homemade cakes, Claire judged the competition which was ‘ flower arrangement in a cup and saucer’ this was won by Ruby from Colton WI.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening for all those attending.

Our next monthly meeting is Tuesday 12th September, with David Hunter from Nelson’s Gin
School and Distillery

Rugeley WI August 2023 meeting


Rugeley WI were given a very interesting talk on Narrow Boats for their August meeting by Steve Stamford.

Steve informed the group that he has been living on a Narrow boat for approximately 20 years with his wife and family. Steve’s boat is quite large, measuring 6ft 10in wide so some skills are needed to navigate the canals, particularly the locks which he informed the group are only 7ft wide at the bottom.

Steve’s boat ‘Wychwood’, (named after the Brewery) was originally moored in Derbyshire, and then moved to Stenson and finally to Kings Bromley Marina. His boat is well equipped with all mod cons, toilet, shower, central heating, washing machine and dryer, fridge freezer and he also has internet connection.

Steve showed a number of slides during the evening, of the picturesque countryside he has travelled and the wildlife that he had encountered whilst on the boat. We saw pictures of Herons, Kingfishers Moorhens, Cormorants and Swans.

Margaret Marriott gave a vote of thanks to Steve for a very enjoyable evening and for giving WI members a glimpse of how leisurely life can be living on a Narrow Boat.

A raffle and quiz was held during the evening and refreshments served.  Our speaker for September is Helen Morning from Staffs Search & Rescue Team.

The WI walking group also met in August for their monthly walk.  Members met at Fradley Junction for a stroll along the canal, finishing their outing with a delicious lunch at the Canalside Bistro before heading home. Rugeley WI meet on the last Wednesday of the month at St Paul’s Community Hall Rugeley at 7.30p.m. 

Sandon WI

Judy welcomed everyone to the August meeting on a lovely summer evening after days of rain. The minutes are sent to all members by email and Judy asked if all were agreed they were correct and signed them. There was quite a lot of information from County, which was on the top table for members to sign if they are interested in attending.

Judy then introduced our speaker, Eileen Jordan, manager of the Stafford Food Bank, and her colleague Becky. The official Stafford Trussel Trust Foodbank is based in The Staffordshire Community Hub in Bellasis Street. Stafford. The foodbank is partnered with the Trussel Trust and connected to the National network. There are 7 volunteers, 2 packers, 2 drivers and 3 admin/data control system. People are referred to the foodbank by agencies such as Health visitors, Housing, Social Workers, G.P. Surgeries, Care Workers and the Citizens Advice Bureau when they are in crisis. When they are referred, they receive foodbank vouchers, which they take to the foodbank in exchange for a parcel of food sufficient for 7 days. The parcels are then delivered every 7 days to their homes.

There are many families in Stafford in crisis due to late benefit payments, illness, sudden unemployment and poor wages.

The foodbank is supported by local organisations, churches, schools, charities, businesses, supermarkets and individual people. Last year the Foodbank collected/distributed 22152.98KGS of food, feeding 1242 adults and 710 children. Eileen was very grateful to members for all the donations they had brought in for the foodbank.

A very interesting and thought-provoking talk making us realise just how serious the situation of poverty is in our County Town

The October meeting is an open meeting, on Wednesday 18th October, come and visit us, taste the gin with, David Hunter, Nelsons Distillery, In Sandon Parish Room at 7-30pm.

The November meeting is on Wednesday 15th November at 7-30pm in Sandon Parish Room, the speaker will be Michael Morton, Where’s My Bag.

Visitors are very welcome at any of our meetings, we are a very friendly group of ladies from many villages around the area.

Etching Hill WI

Margaret Devey opened our Wednesday meeting by reading apologies and welcoming two visitors, Ann Greatham and Joan Haddican. Birthday wishes were passed on to Margaret Ford celebrating her 80th year.

The speaker for tonight’s meeting was Mel Latham from Holly Cottage Preserves. Originating from Lancashire, Mel studied and obtained her degree in criminal psychology at Lancaster university. She also made chutneys and preserves as a hobby in her spare time for friends and family and, it was at their suggestion she tried selling her produce at various farmers markets. She was very successful at this so decided to pursue this pathway full time.  Mel likes to experiment with different flavours and this evening she demonstrated how to cook her Nectarine and Cranberry chutney. Whilst the chutney was cooking Mel regaled us with amusing anecdotes, jokes and stories about her life. Throughout the talk she made us howl with laughter at her tales and at the end of the demonstration we were able to taste the cooked product. We then purchased jars of produce Mel had brought with her.  A proportion of the sale price is donated by Mel to the Stroke Association. This amusing lady certainly captured and held our attention for the entire duration and we all whole heartedly agreed it was a brilliant evening.

Moving on to our annual outing in July, we visited Halfpenny Green Winery near Wolverhampton.  On arrival we were escorted to a welcome room and were greeted by a lady called Helen who gave a detailed and very knowledgeable history of the business.  Initially stared as a hobby using land on his farm Martin Vickers planted some vines to experiment making wine for his own use. Being successful in this venture he went on to expand the vine growing to 30 acres, producing award winning wines. Following this informative introduction, we made our way to the vine growing area where Helen explained how the grapes are processed.  Returning to the welcome room we were able to sample three different wines from their range whilst Helen explained the differences between each one. We the moved onto the restaurant where we were served Scones, Jam and cream accompanied by plenty of tea and coffee. We finished the afternoon browsing the various shops on site before making our way back to the village hall. Many thanks to Fran Brian for arranging this fabulous outing which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

There will be a charity evening in support of M.A.C.E which is being held at Lea Hall Working Men’s Club on Friday 22nd September Tickets are on sale at the club for £10.00 each and members are invited to attend along with their families.

We are a fun and friendly group who meet on the second Wednesday at Etchinghill Village Hall. If you are interested in joining us why not come along to one of our meetings or, you can check out our website at etchinghillwistaffs@gmail.com

Cannock WI

Our meeting this month was presided over by Past-President Diana standing in for Meena who was unable to join us.  We welcomed a new member, Marguerite Snaith; and visitors Sandra, Balvir and Linda who we hope will come again.  We also said a sad ‘goodbye’ to long-standing member Janet who is moving away from the area to live near her family in the Cotswolds. Helen, presented Janet with a card, signed by all members and a bouquet of flowers.  Janet was also lucky enough to win one of the raffle prizes!

Our speaker was Cannock Fire Safety Officer Brad Robins who entertained us with an advisory talk on safety in the home.  Although not a fire fighter, Brad is an expert on the causes of fires and how to prevent them.  Brad also mentioned that part of his role is to investigate how fires can start and was at present was working with the team and sniffer dogs, to investigate the recent suspicious fire at the Crooked House pub at Himley.  This really pricked our interest, and although we pressed for more information, Brad was the model of discretion!

Apparently, the main cause of deaths from fire in Staffordshire is from smoking in bed.  When we were asked how many of us smoke – not one hand was raised!  However, for those who do smoke the Fire Service can replace some bedding with flame retardant varieties free of charge.  There is also an annual effort to encourage people to have their electric blankets tested at the fire station with a replacement on offer for those no longer safe.

It seems that the annual cost of lives lost to fire is in the region of £18million, against around £6k to replace less safe goods FO; so, a ‘no-brainer’!

More advice was on the use of candles: the cost of the more expensive varieties in glass jars being much safer.  Also, not leaving kitchen appliances running when the house is empty.  Not to over-charge phones; don’t over load plug sockets; and unplug items when not in use.

It was an informative and interactive presentation which gave us all something to think about – especially intriguing was what could have happened at The Crooked House!  This will be on the National and International news!

The morning ended with information about various outings and activities and the announcement of the competition and raffle winners.

Mid-Month-Meet-Up at The Barns on 24th August 11am: an informal coffee morning for members and friends.  No need to book.  Our next monthly meeting is 14th September to include a games session.

Cannock WI meets on the second Thursday of each month at St Luke’s Church Hall. Meetings begin at 10.30 am.  Visitors are always welcome to join us for a cup of tea, a chat and the chance to find out more about WI.  Details can be found on our Facebook page or by contacting Staffordshire Federation of Women’s Institutes.

Cannock Women’s Institute Further information email: cannockwi@gmail.com and www.thewi.org.uk/staffordshire www.facebook.com/oakleafstlukes

Yoxall WI

‘ A day at the Marina’

Yoxall WI enjoyed their Summer outing locally, at Mercia Marina and picked the sunniest day of the Summer!
Mercia Marina opened in September 2018 in the 24 acre Willington Lake. It is surrounded by another 50 acres of countryside for dog walking, a wildlife lake and holiday home development. In building the marina, twelve islands were incorporated into the natural outline of the lake, so for boaters, the layout of the marina is similar to a series of small marinas joined by large areas of open water. The whole area is enhanced by a planting scheme, featuring wildflower banks, reed beds, semi mature trees and native plants.
There are now several cafes and restaurants and many shops to browse in, including first class facilities and services for boaters, lodge owners and visitors.
On arrival, our first port of call was for coffee. With a boat trip booked for midday, we had time to dip in and out of the shops. At 11.45 am we gathered at the bandstand to collect our tokens for the boat trip and then we boarded. It was a lovely leisurely trip down the canal, passing dog walkers on the tow path.
And then for lunch at the Willow Tree tea rooms. We managed to eat outside on such a lovely, warm, sunny day, putting 2 tables together and sitting all together. After a last wander in the shops we all returned home. I think it was all agreed that we had enjoyed a lovely day without having to travel too far.
Our next meeting is on Wednesday September 13th at 7.30 pm in Yoxall Parish Hall. We will have Alan C talking about Medical Detection dogs, so this promises to be an interesting evening.

Hartshill WI

Hartshill Women’s Institute Urban Knitting and Crochet Installation.

Members of the Hartshill W.I. (Staffordshire Federation) have completed a community urban knitting and crochet project for Newcastle-under-Lyme Council and the Brampton Museum.  The members wanted to get involved with a community event via some form of crafting experience.

We began researching local anniversaries and events in January and put forward several proposals to our W.I. crafting group.  The group agreed to support the Brampton Museum with its 80th anniversary and the Town’s 850th Royal Charter Anniversary granting it Borough status, by creating an urban knitting and crochet installation.  We finalised on the theme of flowers as this would also link in with the Britain in Bloom competition.

In total we created 2 banners, over 20 small, knitted creatures, 15 bollard hats and more than a 100 pompoms.  We also offered a free flower making workshop at the Brampton to link in with the event which was very well attended.  It was rewarding to see the positive reactions of both children and adults as they visited the Museum gardens.  We have also had enquiries about the W.I.

This project can be summarised as “Many hands, making many flowers, forming a memorable visual and tactile experience for others.”

The Ridwares JULY – AUGUST 2023 Press release

Down on the Farm – Up Close and Personal.

Thirty of us went on a fascinating trip around Sheepwash Farm in Whittington.  It was a lovely summers evening, as we drove around in the trailer, our host was Rob and the driver George.  Rob was a very entertaining host, he told us his parents first owned the farm in 1957.  We learnt a lot of facts about potatoes and the work that goes into producing the finest potatoes required for their customers KP and Tyrells. He talked us through the varieties, the shape, harvesting, the grading and storage. 

We then travelled through the fields learning about crop rotation, soil types and the harvest along with their collaboration with neighbours to ensure a good crop rotation.  We also learnt about how the farm reduces their carbon footprint, and we got to see one of the huge wind turbines and understand how they work.  Rob then took us for a little thrill ride, back to where we were to eat at the fisheries, where they had prepared a lovely, much needed spread.  We sat around the beautiful lake whilst we ate our supper and finished off with some tasty strawberries and cream.  We then headed home just before it was getting dark through the village of Whittington, where we waved to the locals as we went by.  It was a really enjoyable, informative and fun evening that we all really enjoyed.

The WI is working with Garden Organic, Incredible Edible & The Wildlife Trusts on a new initiative – Coronation Gardens for Food & Nature – to encourage people to get back to the land & have a go at growing their own.

As ever we, in The Ridwares WI, are ahead of the game here with our half allotment plot in Hill Ridware.  

Thanks to the gardeners & planters who have helped to make this a wildlife friendly & productive piece of land.  Now we’ve just got to share out the produce that’s ready, cook and then eat it! 

We all enjoyd a really tasty meeting in July, as once our business was concluded we settled down to ‘A Taste of Summer’.

At the end of the night the overall results were…!

Favourite pork sausages = Waitrose @ 42p each. “Flavoursome meat”… “Tasty”

Favourite Quiche = M&S Mature Cheddar & Onion Quiche (£3-50 – currently on offer 3 x £8-00). “A lovely taste.  Onions’ crisp. Good pastry”  

Favourite Fruit Scone = Aldi Specially Selected All Butter Sultana Scones (4 for £1-39) “Very tasty. Nice fruit”. “Moist”.

Favourite Fruit Cup = Pimms No.1 Original (£22 a litre) – although only 1 point ahead of Aldi Austins (£10-71 a litre).

Of course, individual tastes vary so much! And it was great fun tasting & testing all these wonderful products. Perhaps we’ll do this again next year as it went down so well with members.

The competition for July was ‘Something tasty from your garden.’  First prize went to Wendy Lamb with a very appealing plat of goodies. Marianne Hall came second and Kath Parson came third.

Members have been beavering away for months to fill jars with intriguing and often very unusual items for the MENAFEST Jarbola stall.

Committee members had organised four traditional summer eats for us to taste, bought from three different shops, M & S, Waitrose and Aldi. On cosy tables of four members were served three items of the same food and asked to rank them from best to worst. A table core card was provided to keep track of everyone’s individual scores. Below are some of our newest members getting to know committee members.

At the end of the night the overall results were…!

Favourite pork sausages = Waitrose @ 42p each. “Flavoursome meat”… “Tasty”

Favourite Quiche = M&S Mature Cheddar & Onion Quiche (£3-50 – currently on offer 3 x £8-00). “A lovely taste.  Onions’ crisp. Good pastry”  

Favourite Fruit Scone = Aldi Specially Selected All Butter Sultana Scones (4 for £1-39) “Very tasty. Nice fruit”. “Moist”.

Favourite Fruit Cup = Pimms No.1 Original (£22 a litre) – although only 1 point ahead of Aldi Austins (£10-71 a litre).

Of course, individual tastes vary so much! And it was great fun tasting & testing all these wonderful products. Perhaps we’ll do this again next year as it went down so well with members.

The competition for July was ‘Something tasty from your garden.’  First prize went to Wendy Lamb with a very appealing plat of goodies. Marianne Hall came second and Kath Parson came third.

Members have been beavering away for months to fill jars with intriguing and often very unusual items for the MENAFEST Jarbola stall.

MENAFEST is a village event that aims to raise much needed funds for a bone cancer charity in memory of one of our own.

On the day the sun shone and the community turned out in force.

We all jiggled our hips discreetly, dancing away behind our stall to the fantastic live music.

This entertained us all throughout the day and well into the evening, adding to the wonderful atmosphere creating by so many families from the very young to the very old enjoying themselves.

We had a steady flow of customers to our Jarbola stall throughout the day. Members had worked really hard collecting the jars, filling them with any number of weird and wonderful fillings then decorating the jars to make them look so appealing.

We literally had hundreds of jars this year. The large sweetie jars were a real draw filled with lovely cuddly toys as the children came back time after time to win these.  It was an absolute delight to witness children’s joy as they won in some cases armfuls of jars full of weird and wonderful contents. These ranged from sweeties, to garden seeds, hair bobbles, toiletries, cuddly’s and dog biscuits.

The little chap seen here was absolutely thrilled to win not one, not two, not event three but nine, yes nine jars full of goodies.

Struggling to carry all his booty he managed to lift his T shirt creating a large pouch which did the job splendidly.

All in all a truly fabulous day one in which all the community came together to enjoy the company of friends and neighbours.

Our Take a break café was once again well supported by local residents. This month attracting a gentleman who lived in Wales and had popped in to visit our lovely church.

This man, seen here chatting to our President was thrilled and very surprised to find a Welsh speaker amongst our band of regular volunteers.

Ladies manning the stall all dressed up as Calendar Girls for this very special day.  Wearing black outfits, our pearls and of course the lovely sunflowers we made quite an impression.

Paint a Pot

Several members enjoyed a rare trip out to the Paint-a-pot studio located in The Plant Pot Garden Centre in Lichfield for a jolly evening painting pots. We were warmly greeted by Sarah then settled down to partake of the tipple and refreshments on offer before letting our creativity loose on our chosen pots. We left these behind to be fired and will display them at our next meeting. Lots of photos here as pictures paint a thousand words.

This last photo shows our President Karen Wakefield with a well-deserved reputation for ‘leading by example’ as she swigs back the prosecco.

Regular readers may recall we reported on our new marketing materials last month. Committee member Gaye worked hard to incorporate photos taken throughout the year to demonstrate the sheer range of events and activities we get up to. This was all in the hope of attracting new members. Well, I am absolutely delighted to report that this month we’ve got not one, not two but in fact five new members, so we must be doing something right. A big warm welcome to Holly, Nadine, Jayne, Leanne and Sally.

Coming up next month:

  • Our monthly meeting 15th August is A demonstration of African Drumming with Joliba Drums when we hope to host our Blythe group W I friends.
  • We host our monthly Take a Break café at the village hall on 5th September between10.30 – 12.00.
  • Our fortnightly Craft Session.

Despite torrential rain Betley and Wrinehill WI enjoyed a successful day at the recent Betley Show.

Rudyard & District WI Report – 13th July 2023

The July meeting was opened by President Carol Alcock,  who welcomed all members and also five guests.  (We hope the guests may like to join us on a regular basis!)  

Congratulations were given to the Rudyard & District WI County Show Team, (pictured below) who gained First in Co-operative Craft (Craft Item was Best in Show) ; First in both Floral Art Classes, (Flower Arrangement was Best in Show); Best Produce Item and Second in Co-operative Produce.    Very well done to all!

Carol & Suzanne Sheldon are organising a flower design event at Leek Show, which takes place on Saturday 29th July at Dunwood Fields, Leek Road, Longsdon.  All were encouraged to visit the WI Tent, if attending the Show.

The NFWI Annual Meeting Report submitted by Eileen Hill, Link Candidate at the meeting,  was read out by Carol.  The 2023 Resolution ‘Clean Rivers for Wildlife and People’ was passed by an 84% majority.  

Our speaker for the evening was Hannah Justice, from the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity,  who gave a talk on the funding and operating of three air ambulance helicopters and two critical care cars, serving the communities of six midlands counties.  She explained that each year it costs in excess of £10 million to maintain the three aircraft and the provision of a lifesaving service.  The charity does not receive any government funding and relies entirely on the support and generosity of local people and businesses.  

Leek Gateway Club, a local social activity disability group, attended by many young people and adults with disabilities, will now be one of the charities Carol and Suzanne are fundraising for this year.   Crafting materials, especially wool and thread, are always in short supply.  Any crafting materials donated will be gratefully received and delivered.

Melanie Myatt reminded everyone that a selection of books were on sale, the proceeds of which will be used to help fund the purchase of a defibrillator, which will be put into a refurbished ‘phone box at Gratton.  

Upcoming local events include :  Meerbrook Church Flower Festival – 21st – 25th July & The Moorlands Top Ten – Meerbrook Village Hall – 5th August (Showcasing Moorlands Master Gardener & Rural Crafters in Action)

The raffle prize, donated by Christine Rose, was won by Jenny Morris (guest). The next meeting will take place on Thursday 10th August at 7.30pm, when the speaker will be Rodney Paul – “The Coldest Place on Earth – The Antarctic”.  All are welcome to join. 

Yoxall WI July meeting

Our speaker for the July meeting was Judith Rowley, a textile artist. Judith is from a teaching background and is now an active member of Prism Textiles an independent international exhibiting group. Her work has been seen in many galleries, in London, Dublin and Birmingham.
Judith started her work with fabric as a child, making clothes for her dolls. Judith wanted to create her own personal style, involving vertical and horizontal lines and for her pieces to be full of colour. She only uses natural fabrics and her backgrounds are mainly fine Indian cotton. The colours come from silk fibres and wool felting, which are embedded with a felting machine. Judith then applies more fabric, wool and paint, by machine and also by hand.
Judith’s collections show the diversity of her inspiration. Her work ranges from the built and natural environment to literature and conceptual ideas such as sustainability and sentimentality.
She then went on to show us some individual pieces, they were beautiful. One piece called ‘ Requiem for the Children of Aberfan’ depicted the memory of those lost in the Aberfan disaster. It was in shades of grey with flowers. Four individual panels showed Brittany shipwrecks from 1919. During lockdown Judith produced a fabric book, with fabric samples and photos.
Judith plans meticulously what is going into each piece. She uses a fabric sketchbook in the way that an artist would use a pencil sketch book. Rag books also show a creative journey, full of ideas, samples, colours and photographs.
This had been an interesting and inspiring talk, the panels were absolutely wonderful and had to be seen to be appreciated.
Our next meeting is on Wednesday 13th September when we will have Alan C giving us a talk on Medical Detection dogs. This promises to be an enjoyable evening. Do come and join us. We meet in Yoxall Parish Hall at 7.30 pm and you will be made most welcome.


Margaret Devey opened the July meeting by reading out apologies for various absent members.

Birthday wishes were passed on to Sue Evans, Joyce Worth, Fran Brian and Tina Turner.

This month we didn’t have a speaker. Instead, members were invited to take part in a treasure hunt. Despite inclement weather during the day the rain cleared away leaving us with some sunshine. In groups of three we set out proceeding around Etchinghill village.  Using our observational skills, we attempted to answer all the clues set out by the committee members.  All questions answered, we made our way back to the village hall where we were treated to Strawberries and Cream and homemade shortbread provided by Chris Stinton accompanied by a glass of Pimm’s.

The answers were then checked and despite some clues foxing us we all did reasonably well.

Our next social event is the trip to Halfpenny Green Winery on the 19th of July. As the coach will be leaving for 10.00 am all members will need to be at the village hall for 9.45 am

The speaker booked for August is Mel Latham from Holly Cottage Preserves.

Our group meets on the second Wednesday of each month at Etchinghill village hall. If you would like to join us, please come along and join in or visit our website at etchinghillwistaffs@gmail.com


Meeting: 13/07/23

This year is the 80th anniversary of the Dickin Medal, the Animal Victoria Cross, and we were pleased to welcome back Peter Hawthorne, an expert on the subject. His interest began when he read a newspaper article about it in 2008. A shortage of paper during the 2nd World War meant that there was very little written down and no books on the subject, so he set about researching and writing one himself.

The Dickin Medal is the highest award for bravery. It was introduced by Maria Dickin, founder of the PDSA, who was aware of the courage of animals during World War 2. During the Blitz in London Mr King, an ARP warden, found a stray dog who he named Rip. Rip became the first dog to find people buried beneath the rubble, and because of him the War Office set up a training school for dogs to help throughout the war. Altogether Rip found 250 people and survived the war himself. He died in 1946 and is buried in the Ilford Animal Cemetery. Although most of the recipients of the medal are dogs and pigeons, there are also to date four horses and one cat. Simon was the ship’s cat aboard HMS Amethyst which was attacked in 1949 by Communist troops as it approached the mouth of the Yangtze River. It drifted into a sandbank where it became stuck. Despite being very badly injured, Simon survived. The ship was aground for 3 months and overrun by rats. Eventually Simon recovered enough to protect the dwindling supplies of food until the ship escaped. He became such a celebrity that children from the UK sent him letters and presents.

One of the most famous horses to receive the medal was Sgt Reckless during the Korean War in the 1950’s. She was used as transport through the deep jungle, carrying shells and ammunition. If the command came to take cover, she would hit the ground as well! About 16,000 carrier pigeons were used during the 2nd World War and only 1 in 8 survived. One of these was Tommy, a racing pigeon blown off course from England ending up in occupied Holland. He was nursed back to health by a member of the resistance. A message was received that had to reach Britain immediately, and Tommy, despite being very weak, managed to fly back to England with it. Peter illustrated his most informative and entertaining talk with slides, and we were able to buy signed copies of his book.

 In August we are going for afternoon tea at Albrighton garden centre. Our next meeting is on Thursday 14th September at 7.30pm when we will be trying our hand at curling. So come and join in the fun at Trysull Village Hall.



            Have you ever eaten a wild bird? A blackbird, perhaps, baked with three-and-twenty others in a pie?  150 years ago, wild birds were seen as a source of food, and an enemy which ate the crops. Queen Elizabeth l paid “head money” for dead sparrows, their vast flocks were such a nuisance to farmers.

            How, then, did we come to love and protect wild birds, making them into garden birds and paying vast amounts of money providing food and nest boxes for them?

            Kevin Reynolds came to Aston-by-Stone W.I. to explain this journey from hate to love. When population moved to towns the birds followed to scavenge food, and caged birds, especially goldfinches, were popular. It was in 1824the the early RSPCA was formed, and later, two societies urging children to be kind to birds were set up: A Band of Mercy and the Dicky Bird Society.

            1889 saw the first RSPB (Emily Williamson) and the Fur and Feather Folk, (Eliza Phillips and Etta Lemon) –all ladies, for these early societies campaigned to stop the annual slaughter of 5 million birds to decorate hats. “Murderous Millinery!”

             Later, nest boxes arrived, and our present-day attitude evolved gradually, so that now most people protect and appreciate our garden birds. Each year we welcome new species entering the U. K.

            After the talk we ate – not birds, but cake! – with our tea, and enjoyed time chatting to friends. There were the results of our members’ entries in June’s County Show, with yet another first place for Anita Murphy, Joan Jones and Jennie Brockington in the Co-operative Produce section, and success for Sue Mountford in the photography.

            We meet each month on the second Wednesday at 7.30 p.m. at Aston-by-Stone village hall; visitors and new members are always welcome. If you would like to find out more, please contact astonbystonewi.secretary@gmail.com.

Wetley Rocks WI

Photographs with Photoshop

July unfurls its canvas, daubing life with gold and azure, beckoning us to bask in the glorious summer’s peak, with a dash of quintessential British drizzle! Amid this vibrant tableau, the Wetley Rocks WI meeting convened. With a rhythm as assured as the tick of a town-hall clock, Barbara unfurled the scroll of last month’s minutes, while Cynthia dished out tantalising updates from Stafford and the upcoming Leek show.

Punctuating the business talk, Jen recited a poem she had written, presenting the committee members in verse, a fitting prelude to the evening’s digital symphony. Cynthia then set the stage for Wendy Irwin, our local Photoshop virtuoso.

With Wendy at the helm, members embarked on an electrifying voyage into the digital unknown, piercing the veil of layered images and multi-photo cut-outs. Wendy’s hands-on talk reaffirmed that artistry isn’t confined to tangible mediums; it thrives amid pixels and algorithms, painting scenes as vivid as any brush could. Join us for our next adventure – a cinematic escape to “The Book Club” – on Monday, 14th August. We convene the second Tuesday of every month at 19:30 in the heart of community spirit – Wetley Rocks Village Hall. If you’ve been contemplating joining us, now’s your chance! Your first three meetings are on us.



July was a very busy, interesting and well attended meeting.  Our guest speaker was Steve Booth.   His subject was Clarice Cliff  and her Bizzarre Girls. He gave us a very full and   detailed  history of her life and achievements.  She was born in Tunstall in 1899, one of a large family from an ordinary background.  She showed an interest in art from a very early age.  Her aunt worked in a pottery in the area  and Clarice had shown a lot of interest and when quite young had asked to visit.  It then became  her life’s ambition.  Because of her flair for design she eventually became the first woman to become the  Head of the factory  creative department. 

She designed  many beautiful and interesting designs,  best known is  her “Bizarre” line of pottery, which was an immediate success due to it’s abstract, geometric and angular  forms which were in the  popular  Art Deco style. The term Bizarre was used as an umberella name for Clarice Cliff entire pattern range,  pieces were referred to as Original Bizarre. This range was developed in the 1920s and 1930s.  Steve brought along several pictures of her designs which were superb.  She travelled wide, gaining  ideas for new designs.  She was  the first woman to be appointed Art Director of a major company and one of the first women to  own a car.  One of her tea sets sold in 1998  for £13,800. Most items now are very expensive, depending on the design rarity.  From a modest background, she became a very wealthy and famous person. She died in September 1973. After her death it was found that the only item she kept was the Tibetan Green Jar the first item she designed in 1924.   Christine Hill gave our vote of thanks for sharing these fascinating facts of Clarice’s life.

Refreshments were served and Christine shared her birthday with us with some lovely cake. The competiton for the best small flower arrangement was well supported, some fine exhibits.   It was won by June Oliver.  This was followed by the raffle in which there were six  winners.  President Jenny reminded us of forthcoming events,  lunches, afternoon teas  also  breakfeast at Whites.  A visit to Stowe by Chartley W. I. in August.  There will be NO.. meeting in August,.  NEXT MEETING  will be on Monday 11th September at the Great Haywood Memorial Hall at 8.p.m.   This will be a Craft Evening where ladies can try different crafts..  The competition will be Flowers in Art and Craft.     Do come along and join us, we have some great ideas, visits and outings, make new friends, learn new crafts and ideas. 

Report on the meeting of Hayes Green WI on Tuesday 4th July 2023

The ladies of Hayes green WI met at 7.30pm on 4th July at Fives Ways pub in Heath Hayes. They welcomed two ambassadors form the Buddy Bag Foundation, Lesley and John to talk about their charity work.

The Buddy Bag Foundation has been set up in response to the rising number of children who enter emergency care after fleeing violent situations at home. It is shocking to learn that 48,000 children require emergency accommodation in the UK each year. The Buddy Bag Foundation provide backpacks for children of all ages at Women’s refuges across the UK that contain all the essential items a child who could have left their home in haste in the middle of night with nothing. The Buddy bags include toiletries, pyjamas, socks and underwear, a photo frame, a book to read, colouring and a teddy bear.  A Buddy Bag is something a child can keep and call their own, o matter where they go and they are tailored to suit babies, children and young people according to age groups and gender.

John told us that the foundation is always looking for help from individuals and businesses and he suggested we all visit www.buddybagfoundation.co.uk to find out more. This website has knitting patterns for teddy bears or sewing patterns for toiletry bags that WI members might like to make to donate to the foundation.

Hayes Green WI ladies were able to make a donation at this meeting to this charity which is based in Sutton Coldfield.

This month’s competition was to bring in a favourite Children’s book and Kat’s boxset of Enid Blyton’s “Famous Five” books was chosen as winner. Karen and Chris won the raffle this time.

Next month the ladies of Hayes Green WI will be tasting chocolate and watching an ice cream rolling demonstration.

Rugeley WI Summer Outing June 2023


Rugeley WI members thoroughly enjoyed their summer outing to Byrkley Park Garden Centre. The weather was warm and pleasant, fortunately the thunder storms that were threatened stayed away.

Upon arrival members headed for the shops inside the Garden Centre. Purchases of shoes, jumpers, tops and a hat were made, along with gardening items.

After an hour of shopping members made their way to the restaurant where a delicious afternoon tea was served.  Sandwiches, cakes and cream scones were consumed along with plenty of cups of tea and coffee.

Rugeley WI members welcomed Chrissie, a new member who joined us for her first visit to the group.  Our speaker for July is John Wilson who is talking about the ‘Buddy Bag Scheme’.

If you would like to join our WI group or come along for a ‘taster’, we meet every last Wednesday in the month at St Paul’s Community Hall, Rugeley at 7:30p.m. 

For further information please contact either Barbara Johnson on 01889 586855 or Barbara Coppard on 01889 579753

Fiveways Group Meeting

The first meeting of the Fiveways Group of WIs since lockdown was hosted by Kingstone WI on Wednesday 21st June in Kingstone Village Hall.

Over sixty members, representing the Group of Kingstone, Marchington, Woodlands, Leigh and Uttoxeter, together with very welcome visitors from Abbots Bromley and Blithfield Institutes, really appreciated socializing with each other after such a long time.

Team President, Ann Gallimore, also welcomed SFWI Vice Chairman and Trustee, Janet Moorby.

A delicious and plentiful finger buffet was enthusiastically enjoyed with tea or coffee, before Gabriella La Foley, the ‘Ukulele Lady’ took to the floor.

What an entertainer! As well as being a fantastic ukulele player, what appealed greatly to her audience was her skill as a comedian. None of the ladies there will ever buy a new bathing costume without giggling in the changing room as they recall Gabriella’s all too true description of her experience!

She engaged everyone from the first moment in a round-the-world tour in song, with a fair amount of very willing audience participation. An amazing section, where Gabriella named every country in the world at high speed and in song, was an unbelievable feat.

All in all it was a very happy evening, confirmed by the atmosphere of laughter and relaxed engagement of the whole room. As Janet said in her letter of thanks, there was ‘fabulous food, fun entertainment and super company.’

I am sure that everyone there would agree.

MAY – JUNE 2023 Press releaseThe Ridwares

In May our members trip was an extremely interesting and enjoyable visit to our local Vets in Rugeley. 

The Veterinary Nurses at Donnachie & Townley were very welcoming and showed us around the whole practice starting with the Pharmacy.

It was explained to us that due to the high price of some of the medication for animals where over the counter medicines for humans could be obtained from chemists at a much lower price the veterinary nurses would recommend owners bought the human medicine as in many instances this was the same drug as that used for animals. A behind the scenes tour of the operating theatres was very informative, a dummy dog was used to illustrate how an animal would be given an anaesthetic. Some of our members are seen here practising our stitching skills on inch thick pieces of vinyl covered foam. This was much harder than you could imagine clad as we were in skin tight surgical gloves and using curved needles.

Our monthly meeting got off to a good start with committee members, seen here enjoying our annual sumptuous meal out, preparing the fabulous buffet for us all to enjoy.

The meeting was held in three parts with our usual monthly business first followed by our AGM and ending with a very challenging W I Quiz before we all tucked into the fabulous buffet.

The business part of the meeting was despatched efficiently with a roundup of W I correspondence, followed by a rundown of the many events coming up at both county and local level. Our President gave us feedback on the success of our recent St Georges day tea, the scarecrow trail over the coronation weekend and reminded us of the need for member support for our upcoming Summer Tea and Village Fete in June.

The AGM was very well attended and members sat back to enjoy an excellent annual report and presentation by Kate Britt as she took us through our achievements on a month-by-month basis during the past year.

Highlights included our 75th Anniversary and Christmas parties, Quiz nights, skittle evenings, county awards, campaigns and amazing displays outside our village hall.  Our work in the local community is something we all take great pride in. This year we’ve been running our monthly café’s, our amazing celebratory afternoon teas, gifting every villager small gifts for World kindness day in November and getting our new Jubilee Bench erected for villagers to use.

Our President thanked the committee for all their hard work during the year, along with a handful of non-committee members who undertake regular jobs to ensure all our meetings are run very smoothly.

The committee presented our President Karen Wakefield with a beautiful glass bowl as a small token of their appreciation of her leadership and support.

Preparations for our Summer Afternoon Tea began early with members gathering to decorate the hall. We are very grateful to our male supporters, these gentlemen come along to lay out tables and chairs and scramble up ladders to hang bunting and flags. We simply could not mount these events without their help.

We have a lot of keen and enthusiastic members who bake for such events and help out on the day. Seen here are a handful of members with the fruits of their efforts.

The teas we put on to celebrate our national Saints days and the onset of summer are very well attended. We know people look forward to these for weeks ahead. Our Midsummer Tea was no exception. It’s a lovely opportunity for people to get out and about and enjoy the company of neighbours and friends.

Our ever-popular raffle had an incredible 40 prizes. These included a suitcase, leather handbags and board games to cuddly toys, tapestry kits and a fresh food hampers.

The draw for winners seemed to go on for ever, with some folks coming up for prizes a second and even on one occasion third time.

No wonder it’s so popular 😊

Our ever-popular trade table too was groaning under the weight of the jams, pickles, marmalades, cakes, craft items and food from the garden. Wendy our Trade table leader is an absolute wonder. At 80 years young she bakes, makes jams and marmalades along with some truly scrumptious chutneys.

She has many loyal customers who come back time after time to taste her wares. She also has a loyal band of members who bake and create preserves for her. Below is a small selection of photos we took on the day.

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Our annual Skittles Evening was a lovely evening out, hosted by The Shoulder of Mutton in Hamstell Ridware.  

We had an excellent turn out with forty plus members and friends all raring to go. Bathed in glorious sunshine members enjoyed a little relaxed socialising ahead of the main event.

Then we all really got into the swing of things.

The competitive spirit was evident from the outset.

A few of us had some really unusual moves, with bowls being thrown from hip-height rather than bowled along the run. Still as you can see in the photos we did manage to avoid scaring the sheep in the adjacent field.

Our winning team was led by Gaye as Team Captain. Seen here proudly displaying the much- coveted cardboard trophy and clutching their edible prizes are: –

From the back left Graham, Gaye, Jackie and John and on the front row Anne, Carrie-Anne, Robert and Jean.

Winner of the wooden spoon for the lowest score is Meryl, whilst the prize for the highest score went to John, a very worthy winner indeed.

Although our W I enjoys a very healthy membership of 55 many of us won’t see 60 again. In a concerted attempt to grow our membership and attract some younger ladies the committee have been embracing social media and other marketing platforms in a big way recently.

We are very fortunate to have committee members with a rich skill set. One member manages our web site and advertises upcoming events, another manages our presence on various social media platforms and yet a third small sub group of four kicked off the process of designing our new three-fold leaflet and pull up banner.

We also have a lot of talent in our local community, with one gentleman coming forward to help with our final leaflet and banner design, he really polished our efforts into something very professional indeed. What do you think?

We have also designed several publicitymini pictograms, here we put to good use some of the recent photos from our photo library. We hope that collectively this material will help us appeal to a wider audience.

Coming up next month: – We launch these new promotional materials, host our monthly café, our monthly meeting has Mildred Freeman – giving a talk on ‘Mothers Ruin A History of Gin” and we prepare for our involvement in the Village Fete and Menafest celebrations whilst caring for our allotment.

Kingstone WI

What a useful and important topic for a meeting! There are two defibrillators in Kingstone Village and one at the Manor Golf Club, so it important that everyone is familiar with how and when to use them.

Robert Stevenson, a First Responder, and his colleague, gave a very clear and helpful short course on what to do when faced with someone who has collapsed. He gave the mnemonic DRSABC(D) and worked through the steps in a way that instilled some confidence in how to respond if faced with this frightening situation.

Most heart attacks happen at home, often in the bathroom, but there could be an occasion when you may come across a casualty, possibly a stranger, when you are out.

The first step, D, is for Danger. You need to determine whether it is safe to approach the casualty without you, or anyone else, becoming a casualty too! This could be stopping traffic, checking for live electricity or tripping hazards.

Once you can confirm there is no potential danger, next is R for response; is the casualty moving or talking; if not, do they respond to your voice or do they show signs of pain if you shake them? If the patient is unresponsive now is the time to S – Send for help. These days this may be by mobile phone. Get someone to call 999, or if you are alone, put your phone on speakerphone and do it yourself.

Meanwhile check A – Airways and B – Breathing The emergency service will talk

you through what to do and give the code to access a local defibrillator if

there is one nearby. If possible, get someone to go and get an this while you

continue to speak to the emergency services, stay with the casualty and follow

their instructions.

Although time is crucial (for every minute that medical aid is not given there is

10% less chance of recovery), the 999 operator will need to ask some questions.

Don’t panic, they will already have alerted an ambulance.

C- Circulation: CPR and the use of a defibrillator combined is ideal, but

CPR, to maintain blood flow through the heart is essential to extend the time until other help comes. One crucial piece of advice was not to perform CPR on someone in bed; they must be moved onto the floor, a firm surface, in any way you can(!), or you will just be pushing them into the soft mattress!

D-Defibrillator is able to assess what is happening to the heart in order to shock it most effectively and restart it.

With demonstrations on what to expect when using the defibrillator and the chance to try CPR on the dummy, everyone got a great deal from the session. Rob and his colleague were thanked warmly.

After refreshments, the business part of the meeting dealt with arrangements for the Group Meeting which Kingstone were hosting on 21st; an afternoon tea and film in the Community Room on 25th July and the outing to Blithfield Church and Hall in August.

The next monthly meeting will be on Monday 10th July at 7.30pm in Kingstone Village and will feature a talk by Bill Durose on ‘The Antique Road Show’. This promises to be a very interesting evening and, if you would like to sample WI, do come along. Visitors are always welcome. For more information contact : secretarykingstonewi@gmail.com



Members of Aston-by-Stone W.I. braved the heat to put on a fashion show at their June meeting. Last year had seen a similar event, with S.O.S. Fashion bringing the clothes and members modelling as if they were born to it, exuding confidence along the improvised catwalk.

This was an open meeting, and we were delighted to have many visitors from the area. We hope that they – and you! – will return, as all are welcome at our meetings.

A brief business meeting preceded the main event. We congratulated the members who had taken part in Stone Carnival dressed as if for gardening –  again in the heat-wave!

Our next meeting takes place on Wednesday 12th July at Aston-by-Stone Village Hall at 7.30 p.m., when speaker Kevin Reynolds will talk on the subject of “Love and War”: how we created our garden birds.

Ladies, you are all welcome. Come and see us, listen, eat cake, and maybe join us. For further information contact us on stonbystonewi.secretary@gmail.com.



At last our meeting was held on the 2nd Monday of the month.  Lot’s  happened in the last two months.  May meeting  members were given a splendid talk by Hannah Justice, Staffordshire Fundraing Executive for Air Ambulance.   She  started fundraising in 2014.  Originally raising funds for Midland Ambulance charity.  She enjoyed it so much she took a degree in Events Management. She gave very interesting ideas and support for fund raising.  Splendid Speaker.    Several members ran a Pre-loved  stall at the Coronation Fete  held at the Jubilee Playing Field  on 7th May which was  a huge success.    The proceeds were donated between Blood Bikes and  Air Ambulance.  Several members looked after the refreshment tent at the W.I. County Craft Show held the end of May.       There were some lovely exhibits of craft on view.

June meeting was opened by President Jenny Fletcher welcoming everyone especially our two new members Christine Crossan and Margaret Harrison.    This year it was Great Haywood’s turn to provide a delegate to the  National Conference  held in Cardiff.   Catherine Lancaster Graham attended on our behalf.   She brought along a full report and said the day had been a fun packed event with inspirational speakers. This month Members had been out on pub lunches and an afternoon tea held in St. Stephens Church at the Memorial Hall.

 This month’s speaker, Kevin Reynolds, gave a talk on Dragonflies “The Devil’s Darning Needle”. Kevin gave an exceptional talk, he was very witty and kept it not too technical.  The dragonflies’ life cycle has three stages. The eggs are usually laid in water or near water, then hatch as nymphs, when they hatch they have  six legs and are very different  from their counterparts it can take several months before they turn into adulthood.. .They are serial predatory insects commonly found near freshwater, or resting on tops  of plants in woodlands. The breeding season is spring and summer, flying season is June to October. There was so much more he told us.  Kevin had brought along very colourful slides of different dragonflies. He certainly knew his subject and made it fascinating. This was followed by a raffle with several prize winners.  The competition was won by Helen Lyons. Refreshments were served, very yummy .  A trip for lunch at the Aston Marina is being organised for June 30th.

Our next meeting will be on   Monday July 10th at 8.p.m. at the Great Haywood Memorial Hall. Steve Ball will give a talk on Clarice Cliff and her Bizarre Girls.  If you like what is going on at our W.I. do come along  you would be most welcome.  Always interesting and inspiring.

‘Happy 103rd Birthday Yoxall WI’

Our meeting in June started with a very short item of business. All relevant details are in the Pot pourri anyway, which all our members receive. We have a new venue for the coffee afternoon, Hawksyard Vintage tearooms. A toast was raised to absent friends, and then the festivities started!  The tables were decorated with jars of fresh garden flowers and glasses filled with wine. It was a lovely warm June evening and all the members had dressed for the occasion. A finger buffet had been provided by all those attending, sandwiches, sausage rolls and quiche, canapés and dips followed by lots of sweet treats.
The entertainment for the evening was provided by Holly Reynolds. We had last booked her in 2018 and she did not disappoint again. Holly started with the popular songs of the 1950’s. There was lots of opportunity for audience participation with hand waving , clapping and even a few ladies got up to dance. We heard her sing songs by ‘The Crystals’, Dusty Springfield, Helen Shapiro and The Supremes.
Holly is a super entertainer and I am sure we will be booking her again.
Our next meeting is on Wednesday 12th July at 7.30pm in Yoxall Parish Hall. Our speaker will be Judith Rowley, who is a textile artist and her talk is called ‘ A Journey through Time’? Do come and join us- the first 3 sessions are free!


In the absence of our President, this month’s meeting was chaired by Fran Brian . She proceeded to read out several apologies for absentees and passed on birthday wishes to Bridie Heath. Fran then welcomed this month’s speaker Shaun Farrell whose topic was entitled “Unpicking the Thread- History of Sewing Machines”.

Many people would assume that Singer was the early inventor for these machines. However, as Shaun went on to tell us there were several early contenders who for various complex reasons failed to get recognition for these early contraptions. However, one American gentleman called Elias Howe overheard a conversation regarding knitting machines which led him to looking at ways of inventing a sewing machine. Luckily, he patented his early invention but, was unable to market this product due to manufacturers reluctance to spend the huge amount of money required to make said machine. Throughout his life he continued to pursue his dream, but his design was copied and modified by another gentleman namely Mr Isaac Merrit Singer. Luckily for Mr Howe he was able to sue Isaac Singer through the courts for patent infringement. From this and in partnership with Isaac Singer, the sewing machine from Elias’s early invention went on to become the Singer sewing machine we know today. All in all, this was a very interesting and educational talk.

The vote of thanks was given by Shona Kingston.

Our monthly competition was based on members own samples of needlework. 1st place went to Lynn Baxter, 2nd place went to Eileen Jeffries and in 3rd place was Janet Stanley.

For next months meeting we will be enjoying a local treasure hunt followed by strawberries and cream.

Our July outing will be at Halfpenny Green Vineyard on the 19th of July. Also, looking forward in the year the Christmas meal will be at Marsh Farm Abbotts Bromley.

We finished our evening with conversations from various members regarding which Famous people they had met and why. It was fun listening to all their stories.

If you are interested in joining our group, come along to Etchinghill Village Hall where we meet on the second Wednesday of each month, or you may want to check out our website at etchinghillwistaffs@gmail.com

Trysull & Seisdon Meeting 08/06/23

Our June meeting began with a talk by Simon Bruntnell. Simon is a local photographer who works with design teams in arts and crafts. He will photograph all aspects of commercial and industrial photography, but specialises in glass. He first took an interest in this very difficult subject when a glass engraver called Helen Millard, who was at Broadfield Glass Museum, asked him to take some photographs of her work. Simon explained that he likes to keep it simple and let the detail of the object draw you in. This simplicity is deceptive, as it can take hours of preparation. The lighting can enhance the glass, but can also be very unforgiving.

Since working with Helen, Simon has built up a reputation for his photography of glass and now works nationally and internationally. In 2015 he was flown across to America for the day to photograph the USA governments collection of engraved Stubens glass. He was also asked to go to France, to a barn in the middle of nowhere, to photograph Czech glass. Not an easy task as he was surrounded by cats, frogs and cockerels !

He has worked with Elliot Walker, a master glassblower who grew up in Codsall. Elliot was a contestant and winner of the Netflix series Blown Away. Simon told us that glass is either blown or fired in a kiln. He showed us his beautiful photographs of glassware decorated with silver leaf, as well as exquisite pieces of jewellery. Although Simon has photographed all sorts of things ranging from small arms to artists with their work, it is obvious that his first love is glass.

After his talk Simon judged our competition, which was a favourite photo. This was won by Beryl Dunning with a photograph of her dogs. June Harley won the raffle.

On Thursday 10th August we are having Afternoon Tea at Albrighton Garden Centre. Our next meeting is on Thursday July 13th at 7.30pm in the Village Hall, Trysull. Peter Hawthorne is making a welcome return to talk about the Dicken Medal, which is the animal Victoria Cross. Do come along and join us, we are always pleased to welcome visitors and new members.

Report on Hayes Green WI meeting on 6th June 2023

The ladies of Hayes Green WI met this week at Five Ways pub in Heath Hayes on Tuesday evening. We had a visit from two gorgeous retired guide dogs who were impeccably behaved all evening. Carol, the owner of one of the guide dogs gave us a very interesting talk about how she had been helped and had her life improved by being given her guide dog called Flora. Flora had worked everyday to support Carol for nine and half years before being retired. She is no longer a working guide dog, instead she is Carol’s pet dog. Carol is now waiting for a new guide dog to be allocated to her.

Carol explained the work of the Guide Dogs for the Blind charity. At six weeks old puppies are given to a puppy raiser who nurture the puppy in their home until it is between twelve months and two years old. The young dog then begins its formal training and is allocated to a visually impaired person. Carol will not get to chose her next guide dog, instead the dog has to chose Carol. The guide dog and its new owner then carry out intensive training together.

It costs the charity £56,800 to provide someone who is visually impaired with a guide dog over that dog’s working lifetime. Carol told us that when a guide dog is working it will be wearing its special coat and the handle of its special harness will be kept in an upright position by the person it is supporting, the dog then knows it is its responsibility to guide. A guide dog should not be distracted, fed, talked to or petted when it is working. However if the person it is supporting puts the handle of the harness down the dog knows they are not needed at that point to guide and the visually impaired person may be indicating they need additional help so you should approach and ask if they need any assistance.

A number of Hayes Green WI members already support the Guide Dogs for the blind charity via fundraising, or sponsoring or paying to name a dog. One member has also recently become a puppy raiser. We held a collection during the evening and so were able to donate more than one hundred pounds to the charity that evening.

Our competition this month was to bring in a dog ornament and a lot of ladies took part. Moira’s ornament was chosen as the winner.

Rugeley WI May2023 Meeting

Rugeley WI were given a very informative and interesting talk for their May meeting by Rona Johnson from ’The Stan Bowley Trust’, which is  a charitable trust founded in 2008

Since retiring from her career as a Police Sergeant, Rona works for the trust raising funds for the public for ‘CyberKnife Cancer Radiotherapy Treatment’. This laser treatment is available on the NHS for treating tumours to the head, neck and shoulders only, at present.

The Stan Bowley Trust raise money for the treatment of tumours to other parts of the body that is not funded by the NHS.  Money raised by the trust has enabled a CyberKnife machine to be installed at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.  Rona explained to WI members that the laser treatment is less invasive that chemotherapy, far cheaper and has an 80% success rate.  A total of 5 machines have been funded so far installed at hospitals up and down the country. 

Barbara Johnson gave a vote of thanks to Rona for a very interesting talk and wished her well with the trust’s fundraising events.

A quiz and raffle took place during the evening and refreshments served.  Our next meeting in June is an outing to Berkeley Garden Centre for afternoon tea.

If you would like to join our WI or come along for a ‘taster’, we meet the last Wednesday of the month at St. Paul’s Community Hall, Rugeley at 7:30p.m.

Cannock Women’s Institute

Press Release May 2023

God Save The King!

Members arrived at the May meeting of Cannock WI to find the hall draped with bunting and Union flags, tables were named after a member of the Royal Family and covered by red white and blue table settings with origami flowers made by our president, Meena. 

The meeting was opened with a rendition of Jerusalem and some WI business.  We were joined by County representative, Vice Chairman Verity Connor, who presented new members Jill Hall and Tracey Watson with membership packs.

Committee member Gill Gallear entertained us by reading a selection of news bulletins entitled ‘Not the Ten O’clock News!’ which was a stand-up routine that soon had every one laughing.

This was followed by a Royal Quiz: who knew our new King can play the trumpet?! The winners were team Camilla who each received a small prize.

A buffet lunch followed, accompanied by glasses of bucks fizz and fruit juice with which we raised a toast to our new King and Queen.

We ended the morning with a sing song inspired by the last night of the Proms with lots of enthusiastic flag waving; then a Coronation themed raffle, and presentation of a Coronation Celebration gift bag containing summer flowering: bulbs sending everyone home with smiles on their faces.

The next meeting is on Thursday 8th June 2023 when we will welcome a local crafter, Desra, to tell us how she became a bag lady!

Cannock WI meets on the second Thursday of each month at St Luke’s Church Hall. Meetings begin at 10.30 am.  Visitors are always welcome to join us for a cup of tea, a chat and the chance to find out more about WI.  Details can be found on our Facebook page or by contacting Staffordshire Federation of Women’s Institutes.

Cannock Women’s Institute Further information email: cannockwi@gmail.com and www.thewi.org.uk/staffordshire www.facebook.com/oakleafstlukes

The Ridwares APRIL – MAY 2023 Press release

April’s monthly meeting got off to a good start as we welcomed Darren Rudge our speaker for the evening with a talk mysteriously entitled ‘Teabags, Bras and Tights.’ Known as ‘the Laughing Gardener’ Darren is the permanent gardening expert for BBC WM. True to form Darren ensured we all had a good laugh during the evening whilst picking up many useful tips saving us both time and money in our gardening activities.

Who knew Aspirin dissolved in water and used to feed houseplants once a month will keep them healthy? Or teabags steeped in water for 3 weeks can be used to perk up acid loving plants like azaleas, camellias or pieris?

Preparations for our St Georges Day Tea began early with members gathering to decorate the hall. We are very grateful to some of our male supporters, these gentlemen come along to lay out tables and chairs and scramble up ladders to hang bunting and flags. We simply could not mount these events without their help.

We have a lot of keen and enthusiastic members who bake for such events and help out on the day. Some of those ladies are relaxing with a well-earned cuppa.

The teas we put on throughout the year to celebrate our national Saints days are very well attended, we are told people look forward to these for weeks ahead.

It’s a lovely opportunity for people to get out and about and enjoy the company of neighbours and friends. Judging by the noise levels in the hall there seemed to be fun and laughter all afternoon.

Our ever-popular raffle had a wide array of imaginative goodies, the draw for winners seemed to go on for ever.

Our trade table too was groaning under the weight of the jams, pickles, marmalades, cakes, craft items and food from the garden.

The afternoon concluded with a rousing rendition of some of our most loved songs. Leading the singing was our President Karen Wakefield accompanied by husband Alan. We raised the roof, as people sang together a dozen or more of our all-time favourites. including Roll out the barrel, Knees up Mother Brown, It’s a long way to Tipperary and lots more.

Several of our members thoroughly enjoyed the speakers at the Here Comes Spring event proving age far from being a barrier, can in fact spur you on to follow your dream.

Staffordshire author Phillipa Ashley, seen here in conversation with our W I Advisor Helen Newman, was 41 when she wrote her first novel. She now writes 3 a year!

Louise Grey started her sustainably sourced jewellery business, Silver Sentiments – in Staffordshire – in her fifties leaving a career as a legal secretary behind.

The Keynote Speaker, Nancy Birtwhistle winner of ‘The great British Bake Off 2014,’ seen signing my book Green Living Made Easy.

Nancy swapped baking recipes for cleaning product recipes in her sixties! Now a Sunday Times bestseller she explained how over time she has become an Eco Warrior, she is passionate about doing all she can to save the planet.

Nancy was both inspiring and entertaining with her many tales of some of the disasters she’s had when experimenting with various potential cleaning ingredients.

 It was a great day all round- excellent speakers, who all three embodied our W I brand of being INSPIRING WOMEN. With many stalls to satisfy the need to shop, too. Well done the SFWI Events Committee!

Our Take a Break café continues to be very popular. Well supported by our local community it’s a chance for us all to catch up on local news and events.

The talk this month was all about the upcoming Scarecrow Trail to be held over the coronation weekend.

Some members of the committee had been beavering away for weeks leading up to this new fun event put on by the Village Hall Committee. We unanimously agreed to dress our scarecrow as a suffragette, and named her Christabel.

We had great fun sourcing second hand clothes and hats online. Her face was lovingly made up, and included weather proofed cling filmed (sorry Nancy) sky blue eyes!

Our new committee watts app group seemed to have several messages daily with updates on her progress. Another gentlemen supporter made the fabulous banners for us.

Last, but definitely not least, I must mention the W I members who got involved in the Big Help Out, turning out to help tidy up our lovely village.

Preparations are now underway for our annual Midsummer Afternoon Tea. This year it is on Thursday 8th June at 3.00 pm at the Village Hall. We do hope you can join us.

Coming next month: – We launch our new promotional materials, banner and leaflet, AGM, Midsummer Tea, plans for SFWI competition entries, our involvement in the Village Fete and Menafest celebrations and work on our allotment with the youth of the village.

Yoxall WI May meeting

Our speaker for the evening was Anna- Louise Pickering, the daughter of the late Pollyanna Pickering. Many of the members had met Pollyanna so were looking forward to the talk.

Pollyanna had studied many endangered animals all around the world and this particular talk was on the Giant Panda in China. She had a career spanning 50 years and her original artwork was exhibited in galleries internationally. She won many awards and held the role of Patron of the Wildlife Art Society International. In 2000 she established The Pollyanna Pickering Foundaton to raise funds and campaign for conservation and animal welfare worldwide. We were shown many slides of one of their visits to China. They flew on one of the smaller airlines, Dragonair, to a region of China called Chengdu in Sichuan. This was a city of bikes and they sampled some very unusual food there. The countryside was full of paddy fields, being ploughed by wooden ploughs and the rice plants being planted by hand. Pollyanna had been commissioned to write a book and they were heading towards the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. It’s mission is to protect and breed giant pandas, red pandas and other endangered wild animals endemic to China. Here, they were able to see red pandas and learn a lot more  about the breeding programme.

They hiked deep into the mountains to the Tibetan borderland, where Westerners had nor been seen for a long time. Initially, after much discussion Pollyanna was allowed to visit 1 Panda, for 1 hour and take just 1 photo. Luckily, this visit was massively extended and Pollyanna was able to take many more photos, sketch them in their natural habitats and collect material for her book. Anna- Louise accompanied her talk with lots of slides and reminiscences of that particular visit with her mother. We were all enthralled with the photos and paintings of the Giant Pandas.

Our competition and refreshment theme for the evening was the recent coronation. We enjoyed cake with our tea and coffee and lots of royal items had been found for the competition. Our next meeting is on Wednesday 14th June and this will be for members only, as it is our birthday meeting. You are very welcome to join us at our meeting in July, on the 12th.

Etchinghill Press Report May 2023   


The May meeting was opened by our President Margaret Devey as she welcomed us to the village hall.  Margaret read out the apologies for members unable to attend and passed on birthday wishes to Chris Stinton, Celia Wright, Kathy Baxter, Bridie Heath and Margaret Porter.

Tonight, in place of our usual speaker we had a Spud and Pud party as we were celebrating Etchinghill WI  77th birthday as well as the new Kings coronation.  Each of our ladies brought their own baked potato and then helped themselves to a selection of toppings all made by the group members. To follow we had a wide choice of puddings again supplied by various members accompanied by a lovely glass (or two) of summery Pimms. We raised a glass to toast the king and Etchinghill group WI.

The fun continued with a variety of party games and after much hilarity we finished the evening with a quiz courtesy of Ann Ingleby.  We all agreed it had been a wonderful evening.                       

We meet on the second Wednesday of each month at Etchinghill Village Hall. New members would be very welcome so come along if you would like to join our fun group or check out our website at etchinghillwistaffs@gmail.

Kingstone WI

Kingstone WI is 105!

Members and guests celebrated with a birthday lunch on Friday 12th May at Marsh Farm.

A birthday cake was cut by Judith Hickman, the newest member, and Shirley Turner. The cake had been made by Shirley’s daughter, Caroline Hickey and decorated by Jean Gallimore.



 Paula White, of BBC Radio Stoke, was the Speaker this month at Aston-by-Stone W.I. Over the years she has held a comprehensive list of posts at different Midlands radio stations, and has experienced the highs and lows of life in that medium. One “high” was literally that: flying in a small Cessna plane at 2,000 feet, reporting on the traffic!

Beginning as a newsroom assistant at Signal Radio, and with a brief spell as a journalist at BBC Radio Southern Counties, where her Potteries accent was perhaps not fully appreciated, she has experienced most jobs in radio, and has, in her present post, attracted a loyal audience. The lows, however, intrude, and at present her job is uncertain due to cuts and centralisation.

She was an amusing Speaker, full of anecdotes and keeping us laughing. The best stories, apparently, are overheard on the bus.  Memories of the wartime cartoons featuring German spies!

This meeting was also a salute to the coronation of His Majesty King Charles III. Members responded enthusiastically to the appeal to wear red, white and blue, and the competition, which attracted a bumper entry of well-crafted items, was to make a crown.  We also sang “God Save the King” with gusto!

 Next month we are to  have a fashion show. This will be an open meeting, so all are welcome, as indeed is the case every month. We meet at Aston-by-Stone Village Hall on June 14th at 7.30 p.m. Come early, bring a friend, observe, browse and maybe buy the fashion bargains on offer, then enjoy delicious home-made cake with your cup of tea.

Ipstones W.I 

Let’s start this month’s press report with a big thank you to Joan who has been our Ipstones correspondent for a number of years.  She wrote succinctly, yet with humour and I hope I can follow in her footsteps. 

This month’s meeting was opened by our President, Joy, who read the correspondence, detailing a number of activities and competitions available to members.  She showed us some clothes and blankets destined for premature babies, beautifully knitted by one of our members.

The flower festival at St Leonards church next month was discussed briefly, as was our up-and-coming group meeting with members from nearby W.I.s groups.  A show of hands demonstrated that we will be well supplied with cakes for this event! 

“You’re on duck” was Joy’s interesting introduction to our speaker this month; Catherine Bradbury, who is a Radiographer with University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust.

The topic was Womens’ Health, focusing on the causes of infertility and the damage caused by childbirth.  I think the first surprise to many of us was the number of variations in the structure of the uterus!  Catherine used diagrams and scanned images to explain how each could result in problems with fertility. 

We were further surprised by the worryingly common causes of incontinence.  Catherine explained that, while some occur in men, for women this is often caused by childbirth.  Many of us admitted to quietly practising ‘the squeeze’ as she talked about the importance of pelvic floor exercises!

This was a fascinating talk, supported with images (both still and moving) from scans showing how radiography is used to diagnose the causes of incontinence.  Catherine finished her talk by opening the floor to questions, which, perhaps not surprisingly, quickly became a general discussion on the state of the NHS. 

Our thanks was given to Catherine with a round of applause.  The competition (a favourite item which brought back happy memories) was won by Jeanette, with Pauline in second place and Jean in third.  Yvonne and Jean were lucky in the raffle. Finally, breaking out the cake and fizz, we closed the meeting with a toast to the King

Wetley Rocks WI

Welcome to May, M – Make this month count, A – Accomplish your goals, Y – You can do this. Which seems a fitting opening at tonight was the AGM, a celebration of the Kings Coronation event and our 77th Birthday.

The AGM started with Barbara reading out the secretary’s statement for the year, followed by Gill sharing the account before Cynthia, the president shared her statement. All statements were passed by members. What was lovely is that Cynthia had got the meeting minutes from the AGM in 1977, which incidentally was the Queens Silver Jubilee. It was interesting to see how much and yet at the same time how little has finished, subs had increased to £1.50 and the group was planning a fashion show with Slimma from Leek. I think we would all like subs to still be £1.50! The fashion show theme is still with us, even if Slimma sadly no longer are, our Fashion show is on Friday 12th of May @ 19:30 in the Wetley Rocks Village Hall, doors open at 19:00 and it’s been a sell-out.

After the business of reading the statements, and the elections for next year’s committee and president were held and the results read out members were able to enjoy the more social aspect of the AGM. We also had a chance to welcome the two new committee members Wendy and Jacqui whilst our newest member Pam cut the Birthday cake, loving baked by Paula.

Whilst pieces of birthday cake were handed around and members enjoyed a buffet funded from fund raising efforts throughout the year, and settled down to catch up on one another’s news, Louise who takes care of the village hall was kind enough to come and judge the competition which was a handmade crown any medium. There were some glorious creations, and it was lovely to see how creative our members are.

To wrap the evening up we had a biscuit name quiz where the prize was one of Paula’s cupcakes, one each for the winning team, it was good fun and made you think – my favourite one being “half a loaf” which was shortbread!

Meetings are held the second Tuesday of every month at 19:30 in Wetley Rocks Village Hall. Junes’s speaker is Jan Mitchell who is talking about “Sleeping Well” and the competition is a pick up for an eye mask or sleep mask.. New members are welcome, there is no requirement to bake or sew, or do any crafting, all you need to be is yourself and the first three meetings are free.

Hayes Green WI

On Tuesday 2nd May the ladies of the Hayes Green WI met in the Five Ways pub in Heath Hayes for their AGM and to celebrate the forthcoming coronation of King Charles III.

Reports on the activities and finances of the Hayes Green WI over the past twelve months were shared and adopted at the AGM. A committee was appointed and Val Lomas was elected to continue serving as President. We were pleased to have Helen Newman from Staffordshire WI join us for the evening and she talked to us about why and how resolutions are adopted each year for the WI to campaign on. It was interesting to learn that the first resolution adopted by the WI, more than one hundred years ago, a resolution to get female Police Officers appointed throughout the country which was a suggestion from Staffordshire – at the time only male Police Officers were employed. The well known “Keep Britain Tidy” and “Clunk Click Every Trip” campaigns from the past both steem from WI resolutions showing the influence the WI can have on our society.

This month’s competition was to bring a wedding photo. Helen chose these as her favourite photographs. Members attended the evening wearing red white and blue to commemorate the coronation of King Charles and were treated to some lovely coronation cupcakes baked by Hayes Green WI members Moira and Helen.

The ladies also had a chance to do some fun activities related to the Coronation. We had a pin the jewel on the crown competition and a raffle for a Coronation celebration cake kindly baked and donated by WI member Helen and everyone made their own crown.

Our next meeting is on June 6th with a talk on Guide Dogs.

Eccleshall WI

Eccleshall WI chose the nursery rhyme’Sing a Song of Sixpence’ to represent the Coronation when we decorated the Eccleshall Library window. All the members had a hand in creating the items from knitting blackbirds ,threading beads for the crowns to making the blossoms on the tree. It has been a great way to involve everyone in the celebrations and to demonstrate the skills within the WI. The display is in the Library until the 13th May.
The display was installed by Jo Edwards, Chris Timmis, Chris Kinnersley, Chris Weston, Eileen Forrest, Wendy Baskerville and Suzanne Evans.

Tettenhall & District WI AGM 17/04/2023 The Newman Centre Tettenhall.

Inspiring Women is at the heart of the WI so with this in mind we invited a young female entrepreneur Amanda Leek @ Fairy Good Cakes  to be our Guest Speaker at our AGM.

Amanda has a distinctive pink van from which she sells her home made cakes within the Walsall Borough. She has just renewed her trading licence for the next 12 months as her business has continued to build through her social media profile. Fairy Good Cakes recently celebrated reaching 15000 followers on Facebook and Instagram.

The most popular cake Amanda sells is Old School Sponge, the varied selection displayed in her little Pink van brings a smile to her regular customers faces in the Brownhills area. Queues will often form as they wait for Amanda to arrive in her van which plays “The Sugar Plum Fairy”.

Representatives from our three Charities we have supported this year are pictured with Amanda and Wenonah Davies our President.



The meeting was held a week later than normal due to Easter Monday being on our normal meeting date. The May  meeting will  be  held  a week later due to the Coronation Bank Holiday.  The March meeting was the Annual Meeting, there were no changes on the committee.  Today’s meeting was the first in the new programme of events for the next 12 months.  We have a very energetic, entertaining and enterprising  committee and   look forward to a further eventful year.

President Jenny Fletcher opened the meeting and welcomed everyone.  Our speaker Glynis Miles and her associate Maggie were to teach us about Deaf Awareness and Sign Language.    Glynis gave a short history of how she became interested in  the subject 20 years ago.,   She showed hand signs and their meanings, and how they are interpreted in speaking terms.      We were then treated to the music of ‘ Sweet Caroline’ and had to mime and sign language the song, this was followed by ‘Delilah’, the enthusiasm of the audience was quite impressive and fun.   This way of teaching sign language seemed more simplified, it also made us more aware on how to respond to someone hard of hearing or deaf or possibly foreign. Once more we have learned something new.  Catherine, on our behalf, gave  thanks to both Glynis and Maggie, who had been most  helpful and friendly.  They both agreed we were excellent and had grasped the signs quickly. 

President Jenny went through the monthly SFWI newsletter/bulletin and made new members aware of all the events happening and how to take part.   Lots of events in the pipeline. Helen Lyons won the competition. The raffle prizes went to: Ann Crow, Anne Clendon, Jenny Fletcher, June Oliver, Catherine Lancaster-Graham, Val Smith, Angie Bradley, and Helen Lyons. 

There will be a meeting on May 15th 2023 at 8.p.m. with a talk from the Air Ambulance. A competition:….. A piece of Coronation Craft….. also a Raffle and  refreshments. Do come along and join us, be inspired, make new friends, lots of interesting talks, trips out, pub lunches, afternoon teas, breakfast…. come along and and you too might have something to inspire us.  We await new interests and are always ready to listen and learn.

The Ridwares WI

Our April Take a Break café has become very popular. This month we were packed with every seat taken.  Local people are coming along to enjoy delicious bacon butties or toasted tea cakes and most of all to catch up with friends and neighbours.

This month the Ridwares W I celebrated our 75th birthday in style. This event took months of meticulous planning by our resourceful committee who were ably supported by our WI male friends, Alan, Chris and John

The first sign of the excitement to come was the erection of the fabulous sign made by Alan Wakefield in front of the village Hall during our Show the Love campaign in February.

On the night 61 members including our 13 guests were greeted by our President Karen Wakefield and all the committee members before viewing the professional table plan. Our Official Photographer Steve Higgins took photos of everyone as they arrived.

The Hall and tables were decorated in stunning black and gold colours and looked absolutely fabulous. The tables were laid very professionally with name places and favours for each person.

We enjoyed some excellent food, as can be seen from the ladies plates here. Woodlands Caterer’s did a splendid job serving us all admirably during the evening? A few bottles of liquid refreshment helped the evening go with a swing too.

The Ridwares W I have a reputation to uphold when it comes to raffles. Our birthday raffle was no exception, seen above the prizes were simply spectacular.

We also had table raffles for the beautiful flower arrangements all made by our President Karen Wakefield.

The Fantastic  entertainment for the evening had us all up on our feet dancing the night away.

Roger and Kelly kept us all thoroughly entertained all evening.

During the intermission we heard from five of our members who gave short talks.

Meryl Mattey spoke of our history, then Kate Britt and Karen Parsons reminded us of all the things we now do to fully engage with our community. This includes many events that have now become permanent fixtures in the village calender.

Two of our newer members, Carrie-Anne Smith and Chris Gates told us why they had joined us and what they get out of W I membership.

We have four members who were 75. Kate Beechy, Rachel Roobottom, Betty Hyde and Wendy Thomas. These ladies seen here alongside our W I Advisor Helen Newman were invited to cut the stunning birthday cake made by Karen Wakefield.

We also took the opportunity to ask Helen Newman to present Meryl Mattey with a long service award for being a member for 40 years. Helen was delighted to do so.

We received many compliments from our guests from the other W I’s in our group, not only on the night but also in the days following with lovely letters of thanks and appreciation.

There is no doubt that all the hard work was well worthwhile as the evening gave us all so many happy memories.

Our monthly meeting had two different elements. Members were welcomed with a slide show of all the stunning photographs taken at our recent Birthday party being shown on the enormous village hall TV screen and invited to view the many thank you cards we received.

Once the usual business of the meeting was concluded we heard from Jeanette Roberts. Jeanette is passionate about the state of our rivers, she gave an excellent presentation on the perilous state of our rivers. We then reaffirmed our resolution vote.

The latter part of the evening was given over to six small focus groups led by Karen Parsons and Chris Gates. The groups were asked to discuss and respond to five questions.

What do you enjoy most about W I?

How should we promote ourselves?

What would you like to see more of?

What do you think about the current times/day of meetings?

How would you like us to communicate with you?

Member responses to these questions will be discussed at our next committee meeting and fed back to members at our next monthly meeting.

I am delighted to report that the bench we fundraised for last year to celebrate the Queens Jubilee has now been put in place.

We would like to thank Alan Wakefield, Alan Giles and John Hall for putting it in place and Simon Smith for organising the plaque for the bench.

W I members have now planted spring flowers in front of the  bench for everyone to enjoy.

We would also like to thank DHL for the £280 match funding. This amount matched the funds we raised from the sale of raffle tickets and the Christmas Tombola.

We are now busy planning for our next monthly meeting ‘Tea bags, bras and tights’ Don’t ask…

Preparations are also underway for our annual St Georges Day Tea. This year it is on Thursday 20th April at 3.00 pm at the Village Hall. We do hope you can join us.



Our new president, Pam Lowe, took the chair. Her first duty was to present to our retiring President, Chris Payne, a token of our appreciation for the 5 years of her Presidency. Chris did a grand job of keeping the W.I. going over lockdown. Certificates for 40 years’ membership of the W.I. were presented to Judith Webb and Terry Milward, and for 70 years’ membership to Joyce Ward. Well done, Ladies. Several new members and visitors were welcomed.

Our Speaker this evening was Mike Taylor, who spoke of his change of career. After 30 years in the steel industry, he bought a woodland, restored the ancient coppicing, and now works there with traditional methods, using the wood to make articles such as the beautiful chair he brought to show us. We saw a video of logs being taken from the wood by a horse team, a method which causes no damage to the land, and helps ensure the continued existence of the beautiful Welsh Cobb breed.

Gibbons Corner Wood is an ancient site of natural woodland. The original owner was an ironmaster at Horse Hay; wood from this land must have been used in the making of iron at the start of the Industrial Revolution. Mike still uses the same alder trees as were used in previous centuries to make bowls, charcoal and parts for chairs. The trees, once coppiced, re-grow and can be re-cut in seven to twenty years. “If you want wood, cut wood,” goes the old saying. Here is the perfect carbon capture, so important to us these days, and coppicing, where the re-grown branches are cut from the old “stool” captures 40 times more carbon than a single tree. A wonderful diversity of flora and fauna also returned to Mike’s wood when he went back to the old ways of working.

This month celebrates the 98th anniversary of Aston-by-Stone W.I., and the usual cake was cut and enjoyed. Members will meet on the 20th for a celebratory afternoon tea. We are already looking forward to our Centenary in 2025. New members are always most welcome. If you’d like to visit, do come to Aston-by-Stone Village Hall on the second Wednesday of the month at 7.30, or if you’d like to know more, contact us at astonbystonesecretary.@gmail.com.

Wetley Rocks WI – Press Report

Meeting date: 11th of April

Well April showers are here, and true to form, life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it is about learning to dance in the rain! And what better way than to “Dance On” to “Guitar Tango” and other music from The Shadows?

Cynthia welcomed members to the meeting and went through the usual business of the previous month’s meeting minutes and news from Stafford. In addition, a request for cakes for refreshments at the Leek Show was also made. Tonight, was subs night so Gill our treasurer was kept busy with the payments.

After the announcements, Cynthia introduced our speaker for the evening Chris who had brought his Fender Stratocaster. The Shadows’ “King of Twang” was the U.K.’s first electric guitar hero. Synonymous with the Fender Stratocaster, Marvin’s iconic guitar was Fiesta Red with a maple neck and gold hardware, and it is believed to be the first Strat to land on U.K. soil. It was fantastic that Chris had a similar looking guitar which he entertained us with.

Chris really brought the story of The Shadows to life with personal anecdotes and a healthy sense of humour, the guitar solos were wonderful to hear and took you from the first hit singles, all the way through to their twilight years. The personal stories of the members of the band and the nostalgia of real-life experience were touching as the band became tangible and real. All in all the ladies had a wonderful evening and were thoroughly entertained. Good music with a story to hear is a lovely way to spend as evening.

After Chris had finished, we settled down for all the important raffle, refreshments and Chris was kind enough to judge the competition which was a pick-up “favourite album cover”. Next month is the AGM with a buffet for refreshments, and don’t forget the competition of a handmade crown and your red, white and blue outfits as we are combining the Coronation.

Also don’t forget the Fashion Show on Friday, May 12th at 19:30, tickets are still available please contact Cynthia for details. Meetings are held the second Tuesday of every month at 19:30 in Wetley Rocks Village Hall. New members are welcome, there is no requirement to bake or sew, or do any crafting, all you need to be is yourself and the first three meetings are free,

Yoxall WI

Miscellany and whistling!

We welcomed 2 visitors to our meeting in April, we hope they enjoyed the evening and are going to come back. Several thank you cards were read out and further details of the May Market were distributed.

The resolution result nationally from all the federations was ‘ Clean rivers for people and wildlife’. This resolution will be voted on at the NFWI Annual Meeting in Cardiff, when hopefully our link delegate will attend. Yoxall WI voted unanimously for the resolution.

Penny Wheat was our speaker for the evening, with a range of observations and humorous statements. She started with some humorous quotes from gravestones. Some she did not mention were ‘ I told you I was ill’ from Spike Milligan, ‘ Damn it’s dark down here’ and ‘ Here lies good old Fred. A great big rock fell on his head’.

Church magazine bulletins also provide some humorous quotes. Grammar and spelling errors affect how readers perceive your writing. Here are some examples.

‘ The Senior choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir’

‘ Maundy Thursday service: The ladies of the altar guild will be stripping on the altar’.

‘ Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir, they need all the help they can get’.

Penny proved to be a whizz at whistling tunes and quizzed us with recognising the tunes she was whistling! Some of the group were better at this than others!

Finally, she highlighted some humorous signs outside shops and cafe’s. Here are some:

‘ How do you feel when there is no coffee? Depresso’

‘ No, we don’t have Wi-Fi….. TALK to each other!’ Our next meeting is on Wednesday May 10th when we will have Anna- Louise Pickering with a talk ‘ Giant Pandas and Sleeping Dragons’. We are all going to wear something red, white or blue ( or all 3 ) to celebrate the King’s Coronation. Do come along to the meeting, we are all looking forward to the speaker; it should be a good evening.

Etchinghill Press Report April 2023

In April we held our AGM where we looked back at the eventful year to date. Having placed the previous years Covid restrictions behind us we were able to resume our village hall meetings and various outings.

Following the reading out of several apologies for members unable to attend and, wishing happy birthdays to Jan Cotton and Joyce Sanders our President Margaret Devey opened the meeting. She welcomed new committee member Shona Kingston and returning members Chris Johnson and Celia Wright. A warm welcome back was given to Margaret Ford who is recovering from her hip operation.

For matters arising a reminder was given for the group meeting being held by Weston WI on Monday 17th April. We reviewed our March Speaker Ian Pettit and all members thought he gave a wonderful presentation.

Margaret Porter covered news and correspondence as she read out recent notifications from SFWI. The NFWI  annual meeting will take place later this year  in Cardiff and this year’s resolution will be Clean Rivers for People and Wildlife .  All members overwhelmingly voted approval of the resolution.

Also on the Agenda will be a section on Autism and ADHD. Margaret read out snippets that will be covered outlining the  approach and behaviours to people who have been diagnosed.

The financial statement from Glynis Richards was duly approved by Ann Ingleby and seconded by Mary Davis. The review of the bye-laws was presented by our president Margaret Devey who then read out the committee’s annual report she gave an in depth review of the past years meetings and outings. Margaret reflected in her report how village meetings were successfully resumed and how we had all enjoyed the various speakers throughout the year . we were also able to take part in several outings to include the summer canal boat trip from Penkridge and our fabulous Christmas party at Beau Dessert golf club. We  hosted the anniversary of our group at the village hall with a cheese and wine party followed by music and songs. All of these events and others were thoroughly enjoyed by Members

Rugeley WI March 2023 Meeting


A very interesting talk was given to members of Rugeley WI for their March meeting by Bill Durose, entitled ‘The Antiques Roadshow Experience’.

Bill comes from a family of Art Metal Workers who owned a family business in Tunstall established in 1880 by his grandfather William Durose.  Bill is also a collector of antiques and memorabilia.

Bill informed members about the kind of metal work that the Company produced, Tunstall Park Gates are a typical example.

Bills father was running the business at the time that the Company celebrated their centenary in 1980. To honour this event a terracotta figure of Bill’s father forging metal, was commissioned to be made by Peggy Davies who was a highly regarded figure modeller during her career at Royal Doulton.

A few years later Paul Atterbury from the Antiques Road Show was made aware of this figure and recognised it as being made by Peggy Davies.

Bill and members of his family were invited to ‘The Antiques Road Show‘, filmed at Trentham Gardens. A clip was shown to WI members featuring Paul Atterbury and Bill discussing the figure and the family business.

A vote of thanks was given by Trish for a very informative talk.  Refreshments were served and a quiz and raffle took place. Rugeley WI meet every last Wednesday in the month at St Paul’s Community Hall, Rugeley at 7:30.


Meeting: 16/03/23 

Our March meeting was the A.G.M. Judy Fryer read out a summary of the meetings and events enjoyed by members during the last year. Sue Cotterell announced that after 15 years she will be stepping down as President but will instead become Treasurer. Jo Johns is to be our new President and Judy will be vice President. Clare Preece will take over as Secretary. We are pleased to welcome Eileen Jones onto the committee, but sorry to lose Pauline Careless and Liz Gilson who have contributed so much over the years.

Our speaker was Hilary Hampton who works in communication and education at Veolia, which is a waste, water and energy company. It operates its services on every continent in the world. Hilary joined the company 12 years ago and is passionate about the benefits to our environment by recycling, reducing waste and reusing wherever possible. She said that in Staffordshire very little of our waste goes to landfill. The recycling that we put into our blue bins goes to a transfer station where it is sorted. Glass is used to make more glass, cans are used to make parts for aeroplanes and bicycles amongst other things. Plastic is sent to Essex then across to Germany where it is processed into pellets that come back here to make more plastic bottles. There is a tax on plastic packaging and producers have to prove it is made up of at least 30% of recycled plastic or else pay tax. It takes 24 trees to produce one ton of paper, so recycling cardboard and paper saves the environment and is easy to do.

In Staffordshire there are two energy recovery facilities, one of which is at Four Ashes. 800/1100 tons of household waste from our grey bins is burnt per day and turned into electricity. It is sent to the National grid and produces enough electricity to power 66,000 homes. Nothing goes to landfill.

Hilarys talk was a fascinating insight into the benefits of recycling and how we can all do more to help our environment. We hope to visit the facility at Four Ashes later this year to see the important work it does.

Next month our speaker is Sally Costin-Brown who will be talking about Nutrition. We will be meeting at the Village Hall, Trysull on Thursday April 13th at 7.30pm so do come along and join us. You will be sure of a warm welcome.

Kingstone WI

A few days after a snowy spell throughout the country, the speaker at Kingstone WI’s March meeting put it into perspective with his talk on Antarctica – ‘The Coldest Place on Earth’. Rodney Paul had visited this unique part of the world twice and was an engaging and extremely knowledgeable speaker.

The Antarctic Treaty, signed in 1959 by over fifty nations, recognised that it is in the interest of all mankind that Antarctica ‘shall continue for ever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord.’ To this end anything of a military nature is prohibited but scientific investigation shall continue. Everywhere must be kept in pristine condition and all visitors may take away are photographs and memories, and all that they may leave behind are footprints.

Visiting the area presents some challenges, apart from the cold (up to -60˚in winter) and the wind (up to 200 mph) for, amongst other things, there are no currencies, no indigenous peoples, no government, no polar bears, no MacDonald’s, no hotels and no official time zone – it is either dark or light. The sun rises on 21st September, giving continuous light, and sets on 21st of March when darkness descends and stays for six months. It is up to the individual to create their own rhythm of waking and sleeping.

Part of Rodney’s talk was illustrated with his own excellent photographs of this beautiful, desolate place and some of its wildlife, but this was only part of the story. His descriptions of what had been endured by some of the famous, intrepid explorers gave a vivid picture of their experiences.

Among these was Ernest Shackleton, whose supposed advertisement in the Times for volunteers to join one of his expeditions does not underestimate the situation:

‘Men wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful…’. Amazingly he had over 5,000 applicants.

After surviving incredible feats of endurance, finally dying of a heart attack in January 1922, Ernest Shackleton was buried on the island of South Georgia on 5th March. Recently, a team of marine archaeologists announced that it had located the long-sought wreck of his famous ship, Endurance, that sank off Antarctica more than a century ago. Unbelievably, the ship was found on March 5th 2022 …. within minutes of the time that Shackleton had been laid to rest 100 years before.

The audience were surprised by the fact that, on his 1907 expedition, Shackleton found room to take 25 cases of whisky, so that the men could have a dram occasionally to keep their spirits up. In another surprising coincidence, in 2007 unopened cases were discovered deep in the ice. Two bottles were successfully recovered and sent for analysis. Today Shackleton’s whisky has been reproduced and is widely available.  In true Shackleton fashion, the WI ladies were all offered a tot (to keep their spirits up?), as a very fitting end to an excellent talk.

The business part of the meeting dealt with the ‘Big Breakfast’ to be held next day, the Birthday Party in May at Marsh Farm and the Group Meeting which Kingstone will host in June.

The next meeting, the Annual Meeting, will be on Monday April 10th at 7.30pm in Kingstone Village Hall. If you would like to spend an interesting evening with a friendly group of ladies, do come along; remember that visitors are always welcome.

Cannock Wood and Gentleshaw WI

On Monday 13th March we had the privilege of hosting our Rose and Shamrock Group Meeting providing a beautiful afternoon tea, amazing speakers from Cadbury giving an excellent and informative presentation of ‘Cadbury and the Chocolate Factory’ with exclusive film footage, slides and fun quizzes. Our local choir ‘Sing for Joy’ entertained us, making a lovely end to our memorable afternoon.

A special welcome was given to Helen Mancey, Staffordshire Federation Chairman who gave thanks for the afternoon.

Attached are a few photos of our afternoon.

Wetley Rocks WI – Press Report

Meeting date: 10th of January

March got off to a flying start, with our talk “All About Hawks”.

The meeting started with the usual business and news from Staffordshire, Cynthia reminded everyone of the Fashion Show which will be taking place on Friday May 12th at 19:30, the tickets are on sale for £5 and include a glass of wine. Clothes from well-known high street brans like Next and New Look will be available at discounted prices. (Please contacted Cynthia – details below if you are interested in tickets)

The AGM is May and the Coronation with a buffet was discussed as was the trip to the ABC Cinema in August, as well as the activities available from Stafford such as a crochet day or free motion embroidery.

Cynthia then handed over to the evening’s two guest speakers, Wesley Sherratt and Richard Greensmith for the talk entitled “All about Hawks”.  The highlight of the talk was Nala, she was a 5 year old Red Tailed Hawk and she was absolutely stunning! She was so alert and kept her eye on both Rich and Wes.

The passion and interest that they both have for Hawks and Falconry came across as did the wealth of knowledge. I found it fascinating that the book they use as a training guide was written in 1633, which was during the reign of King Charles I. Wes and Rich talked us through the different techniques called “manning” and “wearing” and how you start to get the birds used to people. Wes talked about the habitat they live in as Red Tailed Hawks are from the US and have a very wide range from Canada all the way to Mexico. The telemetry and how you can track the birds in flight and record where they went and the speed made you appreciate how much technology had moved on from bells even if the techniques for training and the equipment are shall we say a little older.

They talked about their adventures “Lamping” and how Nala worked with Wilford the dog to flush out the Rabbits, Crows and Squirrels on land where they had the owners permission. If any landowners or farmers have a problem with any of those then Nala (she does all the work) can be contacted at firstforfalconry@gmail.com or +447934 137989, Wes apparently is her secretary.

At the end of the talk members were keen to get photographs of Nala up close which she was very accommodating of. It was a brilliant talk and I would recommend it as something a little different. After the talk we settled down whilst Rich and Wes judged the “favourite pair of ear-rings” pick me up competition and we settled down to cakes and a well-deserved cup of tea and the raffle.

The next meeting is on Valentine’s Day, February 14th and is a talk entitled “All about Hawks” with the guest speak Wesley Sherratt. The competition is a pickup, where you need to bring a bird ornament. Meetings are held the second Tuesday of every month at 19:30 in Wetley Rocks Village Hall. April’s meeting is Chris Austin playing “Shadows Music” with the pick-up competition being an LP Cover. New members are welcome, there is no requirement to bake or sew, or do any crafting, all you need to be is yourself and the first three meetings are free.

Yoxall WI

A Village Shop

It was a very snowy evening when the ladies of Yoxall WI met for their March meeting and it was lovely to see a couple of visitors as well.

It was the Annual Meeting and we were reminded of a very full and varied programme as the secretary Jan read out her report. Our Book club is thriving and the coffee/tea get togethers have been very popular and well attended. We have been able to support the community by donating raffle proceeds to a local food bank. Our new programme looks exciting with lots of new speakers.

The competition cup was awarded to our president Penny, who always finds something that fits the bill! A planted arrangement was presented to Pauline who has been a long standing member of the WI, a former President and co-opted Welfare officer. We will all miss her.

A date for your diaries- Saturday 20th May. This will be our May Market when you will be able to buy plants, homemade cakes and produce, books, jigsaws, toys etc. We will also have a tombola, raffle and homemade refreshments. Please keep the date free.

With the conclusion of the Annual Meeting we were able to welcome Liz Morgan from Marchington Village Shop. Marchington is a local village with 600 inhabitants and a further 600 in the surrounding area of Marchington Woodlands. There had always been a shop and Post Office, but in 2010 the shop closed. A very sad situation for the village, but later that year a group of people planned to reopen it.

A shop in a village is so important, it is a meeting place for the community, a place where people can communicate and develop their own skills. However, setting up a shop requires a lot of work but advice was given from the Plunkett Foundation.

A village shop is an asset not just for the village but the wider community as well. They can be local suppliers of bread, milk, eggs, honey and surplus vegetables and fruit grown by members of the community. Volunteers need to be trained in fire safety and the  use of fire extinguishers.

The shop has an excellent landlord and a fair rent was negotiated. The shop has to be in competition with the local supermarkets so prices of goods have to account for this, and the shop is run as a business. After receiving the Countryside Alliance Award this gave them confidence to apply for other grants, including a £26,000 from the Prince’s Countryside Fund in 2016.

The shop has approximately 40 volunteers and 5 paid staff. An operating loss is covered by the 50/50 club and monies from Open Gardens and Plant sales. In 2021 they were awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, which celebrates the outstanding work of local volunteer groups across the UK. What an achievement.

Liz had given us a very informative talk which she had illustrated with slides. It was clear that she is very proud of the work done by her local community. Our next meeting is on Wednesday April 12th when we will have Ellen Nee giving us a humorous talk with a most unusual quiz, sounds very intriguing! Please come and join us, we are a friendly group. We meet at 7.30 pm in Yoxall Parish Hall.

The Ridwares WI

The Ridwares W I have been “Showing the Love” throughout February with our display of  many different types of green heatrs to decorate tour Memorial garden in  support of our ‘Show the Love’ campaign. Green Hearts also appeareed on the cake at our committee meetings and members made origami green hearts at their monthly meeting. Marianne made us a beautiful cushion with a green heart which was later raffled at our Welsh Tea.

The speaker at our February Meeting was David Eatough who told us all about the amazing Staffordshire, Shropshire and Cheshire Blood Bikes service. An urgent volunteer  service providing transportation of blood products and brest mik, free of charge, to all NHS hospitals across the three counties.

David is flanked here by our President Karen and Treasurer Anthea as he gratefully receives our donation.

After the talk members enjoyed making origami green hearts and tucking on to the Shrove Tuesday pancakes.

Four of our members really went to town at the SFWI Quiz night. A sumptuous spread had been prepared ensuring all four members could tuck in to keep energy levels high as they grappled with the quiz questions. Janette, Tina, Gaye and Carrie-Anne did us all proud.

At our monthly coffee morning we were delighted to welcome three new visitors, all Ukranian ladies who had come along to improve their English conversation skills.

As ever our annual Welsh Tea was another resounding success with well over 60 people attending. These events require a lot of planning and execution, not least the hard work that goes into all the preparations for the big day.

This includes not only the obvious preparation of the fantastic food and drink for all to enjoy but the decoration of our lovely village hall, and the collection and ultimate display of our locally renown humungous raffles.

Finally we need our army of volunteer members to serve everyone and clear up afterwards. Was it worth it? You bet it was. 

We learned that for some it was the only opportunity they had to set aside personal circumstances and enjoy the company of others. This in itself makes it all worthwhile. On 20th April we do it all again when we celebrate our St Georges Day tea.

Looking to the future we are now planning our big Birthday 75th Party when members will simply put on their glad rags, dust off those high heels and prepare to celebrate in style all that is good about being a member of the Ridwares Women’s Institute. We shall also host members from 6 other W I’s in our group, we honestly cannot wait.

Barton WI meets with Dave Myers

On the 1st of March 2023. Barton under Needwood WI had the pleasure of hosting a very special speaker ‘Dave Myers’ from the ‘Hairy bikers’ Along with his wife Liliana and friends. Dave regaled the ladies with the early history of the early years of ‘The Hairy Bikers’ and some of their adventures along a fruitful and interesting career. Dave invited questions from the floor and some fun and interesting answers were given.

It’s good to see Dave returning to his former self as we are all aware that he is currently undergoing treatment. As mentioned on his social media.

Books were signed. A strong brew with cakes were the order of the day and we welcomed Dave and his family to Staffordshire and his continuing health. The WI meets on the first Wednesday of each month at St. James church hall at 19:30 New members are always welcome.

Ipstones WI

Our president, Joy, welcomed members to the February meeting of Ipstones WI which met in the extension of the Memorial Hall as usual. Since Jane could not be with us, being too busy enjoying foreign climes, good for you Jane, Chris brought us the minutes of the January meeting which were duly approved.

Joy then went through the Newsletter which, as I have mentioned on many occasions, is produced by Joy and brings us news of the many activities, competitions and events arranged by County. We can never say that there is nothing available for members it is just a matter of sorting out which appeal to each one of us. We were all reminded to give in our choice of Resolutions to encourage National to take up. One of my favourite items of all those matters in which we become involved. A final decision will be made at the NFWI Annual meeting in May.

We were told of a request from the Royal Stoke Hospital for any size knitted blankets and of a new National initiative to get more people, including men, involved with the W.I. I feel we need to find out more about this venture.

February is always an interesting meeting when members provide a wonderful variety of tempting sandwiches, nibbles, cakes etc. Mark was delighted with the offerings that I was encouraged to take home for his supper being a very good eater! Goodbye to new year slimming resolutions.

Also in February in the absence of a speaker members provide the entertainment, and we have never been failed in being truly entertained. This year we heard the thoughts of  Chris, Margaret Hesketh , Yvonne, Joy and Rosie thoughtfully considering what they might have been if they were not members of such an inspiring group as the W.I. This was in the form of a “song” beautifully written by Rosie who also read us a poem that she had written. What a talented lady you are Rosie and so amusing.

The raffle prizes were won by Joan (hooray more lovely chocs for me) and Pauline.  If it sounds like a good time was had by all? Then that is perfectly true.   I know that I have won the raffle twice in two months but I shall still try again next month.  Joan Mitchell


The committee earns its stripes!

Members of the Committee wore the striped socks given to them by the outgoing President, Chris Payne, to thank them for their work during her 5-year presidency. Chris herself has been the hardest worker during those 5 years. She took a leading part in keeping Aston-by-Stone W.I. going during lockdown, organising outdoor meetings in Westbridge Park as soon as regulations permitted, even – somehow! –making sure we had good weather at those times.

 A huge “thank you” to her for her unfailing cheerfulness and hard work.

We are confident that our new President, Pam Lowe, will bring her own personality and hard work to this, her first year. She was elected at the Annual meeting.

 Victoria Simpson was presented with the Competiton cup, having gained the most points over the year for her entries, which included a magnificent Tudor-style table centre decoration.

Our next meeting will be on Wednesday 12th April, when Mike Greenwood will talk to us about woodlands. Visitors and new members are most welcome: we meet at 7.30 p.m. at Aston-by-Stone Village hall.

If you would like to find out more about us, visitastonbystonesecretary@gmail.com

We look forward to seeing you. Our meetings are generally a talk, followed by deliciuos home-made cake and a cup of tea. Do come and see!