WI Reports

REPORT ON THE DECEMBER 2021 AND THE JANUARY 2022 MEETINGS OF ASTON-BY-STONE W.I.

What would Christmas be without a pantomime? Aston-by-Stone W.I. celebrated the festive season with home-grown entertainment: a poetry reading, a rendering of “Santa Baby” by President Chris Payne, and our very own pantomime, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Cunning artwork represented the Dwarfs, while W.I.members filled the other roles. A self-catering buffet provided the refreshments, and despite the winter weather, members had a pleasant and convivial evening.

 In January we met on a damp and foggy night, no less determined to enjoy ourselves. The President’s welcome was as warm as ever. It was a strange feeling to sing “Jerusalem” through a mask, but we were not daunted.

 We had no Speaker; instead, we held an auction of surplus items in order to raise money for the A.C.W.W, the international Women’s charity supported by the W.I. Members Terry Milward and Anita Murphy proved their skills as auctioneers, raising a little over £50, and amusing us with their slick banter.

Kate Wain read her story “Memories are made of this”, which took us back to her childhood visiting Cornwall, and won the S.F.W.I. Centenary Cup in 2021. We also discussed the Resolutions put forward for the Annual Meeting in Liverpool later this year, each member having the right to vote for one of the Resolutions put forward.

 Our next meeting will take place on 9th February., when Priscilla Masters, a local author, will speak.  We meet at Aston-by-Stone Village Hall at 7.30 p.m., and all ladies are warmly invited to attend. If you would like to contact us, please ring 01785 615662.

Etchinghill WI

For our Zoom meeting of 12th January Margaret Devey welcomed the guest speaker Ken Robertshaw who gave a talk entitled 6 Dogs A Sledge and Me. Ken, a retired police officer developed a passion for exploration of the Antarctic from an early age and was inspired by stories from his uncle who worked on building runways for the American services in this area. He jumped at the opportunity when he was invited to drive a sled team across the Antarctic. This meant working with half wild huskies pulling a sledge across bleak but beautiful landscapes starting from Tromso and travelling across north of Sweden in temperatures down to minus 35 degrees. This makes the UK’s shivery temperature of minus 5 degrees seem tropical by comparison.  It was fascinating listening to the stories of Kens adventures of his epic trip and his talk was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. Ken also does fundraising for a charity called The Theodora Childrens Trust and has written books on his adventures to help with the fundraising.  A vote of thanks was given by Margaret Porter.

Other business included a reminder for the resolution voting which must be completed by end of January. Also, we can look forward to our postponed Christmas meal at Marsh Farm on 19th January. A possible new member was welcomed by Margaret Devey, and we look forward to seeing Nina at our next zoom meeting on 9 th February. The speaker for this meeting will be Mark Lewis whose talk will be The Lore of English Marriage.  We finished our evening with a quiz of the year on environmental issues from our resident quizmaster Ann Ingleby.

We would very much welcome new members to the group. If you would care to join us, please visit our website at etchinghillwistaffs@gmail.com where youwill find further details

Wetley Rocks WI – Meeting date: 11th of January

Happy 2022! We got the year off to a flying start with a welcome from Pat the President and all the news from Stafford, November minutes were read out by Cynthia the Secretary and approved by the members.

The Vindolanda bunting challenge to celebrate 1900 years of Hadrian’s wall was mentioned with members able to pick up a pattern print out should they be interested in creating Roman theme bunting which can be knitted, crocheted or made from fabric, it is a chance to unleash your creativity. The bunting can be made from any fabric or yarn and should measure 10cm by 16cm, and should be Roman in design, suggestions included the Roman Numeral M and C which mean 1900 and a Roman Soldiers Shield design – it is a fun way to unleash your creativity and to celebrate another anniversary that also falls in the Queens Platinum Jubilee year.

Instead of a speaker we opted for a social meeting which is always fun as there was lots to catch up in terms of how people spent the festivities and wishing one another well for the new year. In addition to the social aspect, we were lucy enough to have our very own Mistress of Quizzes, the one and only June. June does a fun quiz that always makes you think differently, and this time was no exception, she had brought three with her and a bag of prizes.

The first quiz was based on words there were three columns with the first and last containing a word, the middle column which was the answer contained a word that linked the other two. For example, Pot in the first column and Magic in the last column. The middle column could be competed with Black giving the answers Pot Black and Black Magic. It was fun and got you thinking in a different way to, and it is always good to exercise your brain!

The second quiz was based on “old wives tales” and which of them were true or false, which provided a much needed giggle. The last quiz involved music and films from different eras, the best part being everyone singing the songs and remembering them but not who sang them!

After the hard earned prizes had been awarded we settled down to lovely refreshments and a good catch up with one another. The social aspect of the meeting has always be a key part of the meeting where you get to catch up with friends and make new ones, however it does feel that over the last few months with so long apart during the pandemic that this is ever more important. Sometimes we loose confidence going out and socialising when we spend so long isolated, and I think the WI meetings are a wonderful way to ease people back into sensible socialising and more importantly they provide a group that supports and encourages women. One of the best things is seeing so many new members coming back and becoming an active part of the group.

The raffle which is always hotly contested seemed hard fought this evening, if only because Paula who had just managed to win a prize managed with her eyes closed to pick another of her own tickets. We put that one back and picked another in the interests of fair play, but we did all find it funny and it was good to ned the meeting on a note of laughter.

Yoxall WI

The Christmas tree outside was lit and the tables were set with wine glasses, greenery and sparkly mini Christmas trees. Members were arriving in their ‘ party clothes ‘ and looking forward to an enjoyable evening. We were to celebrate Christmas and our long awaited centenary. Our President Penny kept business to an absolute minimum. We were informed that voting will take place on the resolutions in January so were encouraged to read about them in our pot pourri.

An enjoyable meal formed the first part of the evening. Green Door caterers had provided a wonderful selection of cold meats, salads, breads and seasonal pies. There was plenty of food for everyone and many of us visited the food table for seconds.

Sadly, our planned entertainers  for the evening had to cancel but Becky Gosling was able to step in at the last moment. We really appreciate that she was able to help us out. Becky sang some seasonal classics and well known material that we were all able to join in to.

Desserts followed, also catered by Green Door, and then coffee, served by the committee, and chocolates. The Christmas raffle was drawn, all prizes donated by members and we had a fantastic selection of wine, toiletries and chocolates to be won. Everyone eagerly anticipated each draw of numbers, hoping theirs was to be selected.

Instead of Secret Santa gifts, toys were donated by the members and these are to be passed on to the Pathway charity, a very worthwhile cause.

All the members were presented with a small pottery dish with ‘ Yoxall 100 ‘ glazed on to it and a Centenary programme cover depicting members photos from over the years. A lovely momento to celebrate Yoxall WI’s 100 years.

All the members of Yoxall WI had enjoyed a lovely evening, celebrating Christmas and our centenary.

Our next meeting is on Wednesday 12th January 2022 when we will have a Royal Family Quiz with wine and cheese. Visitors will be made very welcome, we meet in Yoxall Parish Hall at 7.30pm. For further details please contact Penny Bailey on 01543 472756.

TRYSULL & SEISDON W.I

Meeting 11/12/21

It was wonderful this year to be able to meet up for Christmas lunch which was held at Enville Golf Club. After another uncertain year, it was lovely to dress up, relax and enjoy each other’s company whilst tucking in to a festive meal followed by coffee and mince pies. It was good to see some new faces joining us and we hope to welcome them to our meetings next year. Clare Preece handed out a Christmas quiz for us to ponder over in between courses. I can never remember all the reindeers’ names!

Our President, Sue Cotterell, ended a most enjoyable afternoon by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. She said we will be only booking speakers month by month at the moment until we know what next year holds. It’s very difficult to plan too far ahead these days!

Our next meeting is on Thursday 13th January at 2.30pm in the Village Hall, Trysull. It will be a social afternoon so please come and join us for cake, coffee and chatter. You will be sure of a warm welcome.

Great Haywood WI

CHRISTMAS AT THE HAYWOODS W.I. this year  was very different from last year’s ZOOM festivities, which could only be described as hilarious.  However, Christmas 2021 was very tame.  Covid restrictions were observed…. come with a mask and seating was arranged so we were not too close, it became rather chilly as windows were open, none the less it was most eventful and well organised.  When we arrived the tables were set out, to keep us quiet there were two quizzes and a pencil and paper so this set the little grey cells moving.   It was really to test our wits as they were for the  competition.

The meeting was opened by President Jenny Fletcher, she  gave a  mini version of W. I. News.  Jenny gave an account of the W.I. Christmas meal which had taken place at The National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas.  It had been a most interesting meal with afternoon entertainment.  All agreed it had been a superb outing and there were plans afoot to visit in the summer next year (hopefully).

Refreshments were then served, buffet style, the committee had excelled themselves, everything was well done and looked good and tasted good.  Many thanks to all for all your hard work  you did a grand job.  Most of the evening was spent eating and chatting to each other, when suddenly it was 9.30.p.m.  In the meantime Father Christmas had been and left his sack of presents to be distributed.  Jenny, with the help of two elves, Sue Beck and the real elf herself, Tracey Nixon, (hiring her out for next years events) they too did a quick and excellent job distributing the presents.(Just like Christmas morning, and we are all grown ups).  There were quite a few raffle prizes which were won by: Christine B., Kath Mackin, Sue Beck, Anne Crow, Tracey Nixon, Jenny Fletcher, Ann Jones, Sally, Shirley Napier, Louise and Barbara.  The winners of the competitions were noted. Twenty seven members in all attended this evening of festivities.  Every one left smiling clutching their presents and cards and looking happy.  Everyone wishing each other “A Happy Christmas”.

Our next meeting will be held on Monday January 10th 2022 at the Great Haywood Memorial Hall at 8.p.m.  The speaker will be Hayley Mival, General Manager of Shugborough, giving a talk on the last five years of Shugborough. If you are interested and would like to have a taste of our happy group, do come along, we would be pleased to meet you.

Etching Hill WI

Etchinghill WI held our monthly meeting on 8th December at the village hall. Margaret Devey welcomed this month’s speaker Alan Tumber whose talk was entitled Rhyme or Reason Tis the Season. Alan a retired teacher and started off with a festive song Sleigh ride accompanied by pictures of Christmas scenes. This was followed by a selection of festive poems and a short film showing a troupe of Tap dancers called the Rockettes who performed a dance routine each year in New York to the tune The Twelve Days of Christmas.  Alan finished off by playing a moving recording of Mike Harding called Christmas 1914. A tribute to the truce on Christmas day between British and German troops during the war.

To finish off our Christmassy themed meeting we enjoyed lovely homemade mince pies provided by Chris Stinton and a glass of Bucks Fizz courtesy of Fran Brian and a game based on the show Pointless from Ann Ingleby.

Looking forward to January 2022 our guest speaker will be Ken Robertson via Zoom and his talk will be 6 Dogs a Sledge and Me.

If you would like to join us or require any further information about our group, please visit us at etchinghillwistaffs@gmail.com

Rugeley WI

Rugeley W.I. enjoyed a talk given by Sgt Ben Wilkes on Policing in the 40’s for their November meeting.  Sgt Wilkes was dressed in a uniform worn by the police during the 1920’s and 30’s for his talk.

He began with September 3rd 1939, and the radio broadcast from the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, saying the country was at war.  This was followed by many interesting stories from the war years including the blackout and injuries this caused to the public. No sign posts were allowed because this would give the enemy too much information. Even morals changed during the war as people turned a blind eye to ‘goods falling off a lorry’. A vote of thanks was given by Trish for a most interesting talk.

Rugeley WI also had a very enjoyable Christmas Dinner at Marsh Farm on 1st December.  A raffle was held and ‘Secret Santa’ presents given out.

The next meeting of Rugeley W.I will be held at St Paul’s Community Hall, on Wednesday 26th January at 7:30 p.m. The speaker will be Jeanne Morris on ‘The work of the Street Pastors’. If you would like to join us please come along for a ‘taster’ or contact Barbara Coppard on 01889 804889 or Barbara Johnson on 01889 586855 for further information.

Endon WI, Centenary Celebrations

Endon WI celebrated their belated 100th birthday at Westwood Golf Club, Leek.  24 members and guests arrived in their Sunday Best, ready to celebrate this special occasion. Lunch was proceeded by the singing of Jersalem.   

The guests were Helen Mancey, our Area Adviser and  Trustee Verity Conner.  After the lovely meal, Helen Mancey presented us with two Centenary Certificates, one from Stafford, signed by Helen Newman, SFWI Chair and the other from National Federation of WI’s, signed by Lynn Stubbings, former Chairman,  The cake was then cut by our President, Barbara Wells, who also made the cake, and was iced and beautifully decorated by Jackie Jones.  This was followed by entertainment provided by Trevor Leeson, a former member of the Mersey-beats. The toes were tapping and everybody was singing along to well-known songs.

Our project for our birthday, was to knit 4” squares to be made into blankets for the Premature Baby Unit at The Royal Stoke Hospital. The number of squares knitted was over 1000. The attached pictures shows a box of blankets, made by members and friends. The other jackets and hats surrounding the box were made by friends from Wales and Leek.

The afternoon was completed by the singing of The National Anthem. A lovely time was had by all.

Yoxall WI

Things that go bump in the night!

Our speaker for November was Tony Waldron giving a talk on ‘Tales of Ghosts, Unusual energies and other Strange Happenings’. Tony has direct experience of ghosts and all of his stories are validated. In his previous work he was involved with heritage conservation.

His first story was about his own home, a 1920-21 architect designed home , one of the ‘ homes fit for heroes’. His was the second family to inhabit the building, he knew the previous family, and to the best of his knowledge was unaware of anyone passing away within the house. His family rented a colour TV in the 1980’s and the TV started changing channels at random. The phone also kept ringing and visitors to the house kept seeing a cat that was not there. It was all really disconcerting!

Tony’s second story related to a friend with a serious haunting problem. It involved a new bungalow and a figure seen to be running down a corridor, this petrified the daughter of the owner, thinking she had seen a ghost.

Ley lines are lines that crisscross around the earth, that are dotted with monuments and natural landforms, and carry along with them rivers of supernatural energy. Along these lines, at the places they intersect, there are pockets of concentrated energy, that can be harnessed by certain individuals. These energy lines run through buildings and Tony believes that where they intersect it could cause interference with phones and TV’s. An explanation for some weird goings on!

Geopathic stress is a class of geomagnetic distortions in the earth’s magnetic field. Extensive research has suggested that living or working over geopathic stress can have detrimental health effects. Tony is sometimes asked to carry out a geopathic stress survey.

To finish, one of our members had a go with the dowsing sticks to look for the earth’s energy through the hall.

Tony had provided a fascinating talk on a subject that clearly interests him.

Two of our members had ‘big’ birthdays and we heard that they had been sent cards and flowers.

Our combined 100+1 birthday party and Christmas party will be our next meeting on Wednesday 8th December. This is for Yoxall WI members only. We will meet in the New Year on Wednesday 12th January. Visitors will be made very welcome at this meeting. For more information please contact Penny Bailey on 01543 472756

Denstone WI

On Monday November 15th, Denstone W.I. met to celebrate their 100th Birthday. A  beautiful and delicious  cake made and decorated by member  Anne Harris was cut by Jean Langton, our longest serving W.I. member (58 years) the photograph shows Anne Harris, Rose Barker  (president) and Jean Langton.

Prior to cutting the cake and enjoying a glass of port we had a most entertaining talk from Helen Chambers entitled  “A Tudor Christmas.” Helen took on the character of a Tudor wife, Mistress Mountford from Cheapside, a fashionable part of London in Tudor times. She regaled us with lots of interesting facts, many of which explained  the story behind our modern traditions and words, such as the yule log, mistletoe, the 12 days of Christmas and the box office. Helen wore  beautiful and colourful clothes from the period and was a very accomplished musician, playing the bagpipes, various wind instruments and the harp, the evening was rounded off by the singing of Tudor carols accompanied by Mistress Mountford on the harp.

Aston by Stone WI

INTO THE SHADOWS

                Did you ever pay 6/- (or 8/- for the posh seats) to see Cliff Richards and the Shadows back in the days when they were starting out? No? Well, the speaker at our November meeting, Chris Stratman, did, and it started a life-long interest. He brought his Fender Stratocaster to the meeting, and played ten of the Shadows’ greatest hits, entertaining us between melodies with stories of the group’s history.

                At first, the backing group was not treated quite as well as the star: Youth Hostels, or sleeping in the van, instead of the posh hotel to which Cliff was whisked away each night, and a very small share (£40 between the four of them!) in the proceeds of the concerts. No wonder they decided to go it alone: “Apache”, their first hit, sold a million copies, and set them firmly on the road to fame and fortune.

When Chris played to us, it was difficult to believe that he had never had a guitar lesson in his life, or that he couldn’t read music. Never mind read it, he made music, and took many of us right back to our youth in the 60s. He reminded us that an album (LP) cost £1/14/6, so pricey that it was mostly old people who bought them. Who could have predicted the changes which have been made in the way we listen to music now?

The Shadows had a string of hits, and we heard several of them. Do you remember “Sleepwalk”, “South of the Border” or “Cavatina”? The group moved on to LPs after a string of hits.

They disbanded, but re-formed in the 60s – in fact, they made several “farewell” tours, and kept on having hits for many years.

We had a thoroughly enjoyable evening.  A nice cup of tea and a slice of cake rounded matters off, while we watched the clever members who had made – and modelled – hats based on a song title. The winner evoked Oklahoma, with “A surrey with a fringe round the top”.

Our next meeting will be on January 12th. If you are interested, ladies, please come along: we meet at 7.30 at Aston-by-Stone village hall. Phone 01785 615662 if you are interested.

Happy Christmas from Aston-by-Stone W.I.!

Etching Hill WI

Etchinghill WI held our monthly meeting on Wednesday 10th November at the village hall

Our speaker for this month was Corrinne Brazier who gave a remarkably interesting talk on the ‘History of Women in the police force. Corrine has spent her career with the police in various departments including criminal records. she developed an interest in digitising records for the police museum, where she now works. Her talk was based on stories she discovered about women’s roles in the force going as far back as 1839. Its marvellous that Corrine was able to preserve and keep alive these early stories and we can thank these brave pioneering women for the way in which women have progressed in today’s police force as in fact a third of today’s officers are women.

Following our refreshments Margaret Devey conducted other business. Birthdays to celebrate this month were for Ann Ingleby, Chris Pemberton, and Kay Myers.

The coffee morning in October organised by Mary Davis was a tremendous success, raising £1220.00. The money raised will be divided between Ovarian cancer and MS charities. In addition, the cake stall raised £50.97 for the WI fund. Margaret thanked all the ladies for their contributions.

The planned Christmas meal at Beau Dessert has been cancelled. We shall now be going for lunch at Marsh Farm on the 19 January 2022.

Our December meeting at the village hall will have a Christmassy theme with a glass of wine and mince pies and we shall be doing the Secret Santa. The speaker will be Alan Tumber giving a talk on Rhyme or Reason tis the Season. We will revert to Zoom meetings for January and February next year.

We would welcome new members to the group, if you are interested in joining us, please visit our website at etchinghillwistaffs@gmail.com                           

Trysull and Seisdon WI

Meeting 11/11/21 President Sue Cotterell opened the November meeting by giving a warm welcome to some new ladies who had joined us for a Christmas craft evening with Sue Bicknell. We had all been given “homework” the previous month and arrived with books that we had folded into Christmas trees and candles ready to decorate. Soon we were all busy glueing ribbons, stars and sequins etc onto our creations. It was a lovely festive atmosphere as we all chattered happily whilst struggling to make things stick where we wanted! With Sue’s help and endless patience, we managed to produce some lovely decorations to take home. Thank you, Sue, for a really fun evening.

Sue was not the only person showing their creative talents. Mary Westwood had brought a tray piled high with knitted toys to hang on the Christmas tree. It didn’t take long for them to disappear as people bought angels, snowmen, toy soldiers, Santas and Xmas puds for their grandchildren, great grandchildren and themselves!

After we had had our refreshments, Clare Preece tested our knowledge of Christmas trees with a light-hearted (and quite difficult !) quiz. It was a fun ending to what had been a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Next month is our Christmas lunch at Enville Golf Club on Saturday December 11th at 1.30pm. It should be a good ending to what has again been a rather strange year.

Great Haywood WI

The November meeting was again well attended, Always a warm feeling when there is a lot of people there and they have a lot to say.  Order was soon brought when Val Smith opened the meeting in the absence of Jenny.  A CD  was brought in to play Jerusalem, in place of our chaotic efforts of singing, plus the fact of the COVID restrictions.   Val informed us we now have 40 members.  Quite a few interesting items on the agenda, but the big event in the month had been the Group Meeting held on the 26th October at Rising Brook Church Hall.  That evening was attended by 85 members from other W.I’s within our group. The main event was the arrival of Lesley Smith the curator of Tutbury castle

  Lesley  is well known as a  historian with a particular interest in Tudor medicine, she is also a heritage publicist, actress and has many other interests.  She is known for her  acting and appeance as historical characters, such as Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots and many other characters from the past.  For this evening she  appeared as Catherine of Aragon.   The dress was true to the  original design, in crimson velvet and gold brocade it  was stunning, the needlework was superb.  It was very  uncomfortable when  she sat down, there was a breast plate which was quite heavy and she had to remove it.  Members were quite in awe of the costume, which could only be described as fantastic. There was a lot of good humour during the evening.  Lesley was a very interesting.  knowledgeable person in her subjects, also quite humourous.  The evening  had been very  interesting and inspiring.  Our guest seemed to have enthralled most members with her knowledge and presence. Described by several members as FANTASTIC.  A splendid and most successful  evening  We then came back down to earth.   Refreshments were served and many raffle prizes were won.  Too many to mention.

The Speaker for this November evening was Ben Gamble, Auctioneer from Cuttlestones of Penkridge.  He  gave a talk on his most interesting life as an auctioneer. He left school and signed up at three universities, never had any intention of life as an auctioneer, but had a gap year and found a job to earn some money for when he got there.   From then on his life story got very humourous.  His first experience was working for agricultural auctioneers,  he had no knowledge of agriculture apart from watching Emmerdale Farm on the television from then on it was hilarious.  At the time of the foot and mouth epidemic he had the desire to diverse and go into antiques, this proved a success.  Eventually he took over the antiques side and it was then  renamed  and called Cuttlestones. He had met many wealthy and well known people and had acted on their behalf at many auctions.  He had also appeared on television.He told us of the many challenges over the years.  At present secondhand furniture is not too popular as most people are going for brand new.  Also tips of the trade, not too many of course…..otherwise we could end up in competition.   He was a very interesting and funny person, a pleasure to listen to.  Sue Beck  gave a vote of thanks on our behalf.  In lieu of his fee a donation to Katherine House was made on his behalf.

Refreshments were served…NO CAKE…..Ben had said he only came for the cake.  However, some kind soul presented him with a parcel, apparently cake.  Hope he enjoyed it, as he could not get out the door quick enough.  The raffle was drawn and four prizes were won., by Pat, Lois, Catherine and Louise.

Next meeting will be held on Monday 13th December at 8.p.m. This will be our Christmas Meeting/Party and it looks as though Father Christmas has had instructions to pop in.  Pretty sure there will be cake. etc.,   Do come along if you think we are interesting. and want to be inspired.  Never sure what is going to happen.  See you soon hopefully.

Maureen Broom. 

Wetley Rocks WI

Third time works a charm, so they say, and this rang true for this month’s meeting. We started off with the minutes from the previous meeting read by Cynthia the secretary and then it was over to Pat the President for the latest news on upcoming events and services.

It looks like we have an action-packed December, as on Sunday December the 12th there will be a Christmas Market held in Wetley rocks Village Hall where the WI will have a Cake Stall, the following day on Monday the 13th of December there is the coach trip to the Carol Service at Lichfield and then on Tuesday 14th of December we will have our Christmas meal at the Queens in Freehay. During the announcements there was a minor technical glitch with the microphone, Lynne our treasurer leapt into action and soon resolved the issue earning a round of applause from members and a further role of Sound Engineer! Pat then introduced our guest speaker Pam Moseley from Quirky Flowers who would be demonstrating “Autumnal and Chrimassy arrangements”. 

The demonstration from Pam was wonderful and so much fun. Her real passion for the beauty and versatility of local “home grown” flowers shone through as did her unique approach to flower arranging. Pam grew up in Cheddleton and moved to Stafford before returning to her home village and so it was fantastic to have some an enthusiastic speaker from the local community.

All the foliage, grasses and flowers were either grown on her farm or were from the local hedgerows, her focus on sustainability, reuse and compost-ability of the items showed a real care for the environment. Pam clearly has a natural talent as well as an irrepressible enthusiasm for arranging flower in a “cottage” style. Members were able to ask questions throughout the demonstration creating a lot of interactive discussions, the real win though was how accessible she made flower arranging, gone was the formality and rules instead it was more try it and see if it works. She wove wicker into wreathes, made a lovely table arrange using some tong and groove and even showed how hay could be used to create a different type of wreath – she encouraged our members to try new things using contorted hazel and feathers to finish her arrangements. Pam’s workshops and demonstrations are not to be missed and are highly recommended, we were fortunate to be able to use the 3 beautiful arrangements for the raffles prizes which were highly sought after. As a fantastic ending to the evening Pam stayed and enjoyed the refreshments and the social aspects of the meeting, chatting with members about hobbies and exchanging humorous stories

The friendships developed through the WI and the supportive, encouraging nature of the group is a real boon at this time where we still have to maintain a sensible level of physical distancing yet no longer have to feel distant socially distant from one another. The communal gathering and shared experience is such an integral part of the meeting that has taken on a greater importance since we have been able to meet again and it was wonderful seeing so many members inspiring one another and enjoying ones another’s company, more than that it is fantastic seeing so many new members enjoying themselves and the meetings and seeing the group grow.

Next month there is no meeting at the village hall, instead there is the Christmas Meal at the Queens in Freehay, where we will collect wrapped gifts for the local refuge in Cheadle. Wetley Rocks WI is an active growing WI group, we meet in Wetley Rocks Hall on the second Tuesday of every month, new members are gladly welcomed and the first 3 meetings are free.

Cannock WI

Saree Event

As we near the end of 2021 it was good to reflect on the adaptations the Club has had to make due to Coronavirus.  We have kept our membership buoyant by ensuring good communication, whether by telephone, email, doorstep visit, Zoom and of course the resuming of our monthly meetings at St Luke’s community Hall.  Last month President Meena shared knowledge of Navratri when Hindus all over the world join in a joyous festival dedicated to the Goddess Durgama.  ‘Nav’ means nine and ‘Ratri’ means nights and this is a festival to mark the defeat of evil by good. Hindus young and old all join in dancing and celebrations during this period.

Ladies of Cannock WI also participated in this year’s celebration by dressing up in saree and enjoying celebratory music.  There was also a photograph opportunity to pose in front of Taj Mahal.

This month we welcomed 7 new members who are eager to join in our events and trips on offer over the Christmas period.  Some joined us on our visit to Bishton Hall for antique valuations, tea and cakes, and a guided tour of the Grade 2 listed gardens. The members Christmas party in December will include a subsidised buffet meal and entertainment ‘Simply Magic’ by experienced magician David Oakley.  Next year entertainment, trips and visits are being organised as well as a holiday to the south coast. 

Cannock WI meets on the second Thursday of the month 10.30 am at St Luke’s Church Centre and welcomes visitors to join us for refreshments and a chat at a cost of £4. Updates and details are on our Facebook page.  Do get in touch, we are a friendly bunch!

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

Kingstone WI

It was with great pleasure that, on Monday 8th, Kingstone WI welcomed Kate Woodhead, a fellow Kingstonian, to share with them her experience of visiting Madagascar a year or two ago. Kate, her husband and eldest son decided that they didn’t want to spend their six weeks in the country simply as tourists, so arranged to go as part of a conservation project arranged by Projects Abroad.

Time spent in the rain forest gave them the opportunity to see a great variety of birds, reptiles and insects, many of which can be found nowhere else on earth. Because of this Madagascar is recognized as one of the planet’s top conservation priorities. Kate, Nick and Ben were able to contribute just a little by taking part in a lemur survey. Whilst biologically rich, Madagascar is one of the economically poorest countries on earth. There is a drive to teach what a devastating effect deforestation is having through the policy of slash and burn. New trees are being planted to improve the eco-system – another activity they were able to help with. Sadly, a large amount of plastic is still used, for example for plant pots (used for seedlings they collected for a tree nursery) and drink bottles. As part of educating local people to be more eco- aware, Community Days were organized. Those on the project helped the local villagers to collect litter as part of a drive to educate them about recycling and waste management. Unfortunately, it is hugely difficult to make changes as there is no scope for average people to find alternatives to plastics or lifestyle when their priority is to survive

The beautiful pictures that Kate showed of flora and fauna were memorable, but even more so were images of two dilapidated hospital beds without mattresses (this was the maternity ward)  – you would have to bring your own if you were to have one; the fantastic loads carried on bicycles (the most incredible they saw were two single and a double mattress on one bicycle – on the way to the hospital, maybe!); and one of a joyful ceremony of the ‘turning of the bones’. The beliefs and customs of the Malagasy are complicated. In a society where the most important part of life is death, ‘turning of the bones’ provides the opportunity to communicate with and remember a loved one. To explain it briefly, the remains of the selected relative are taken from the tomb, over-wrapped in a new burial shroud and carried through the streets before being replaced. Generous amounts of alcohol are consumed amid a festive atmosphere with much dancing and music. The great expense involved in this, the most important celebration for any family, is considered fitting.

Altogether this was a fascinating talk and we were left with a recommendation, for further wonders, to Google a cape made from the silk of 1.2 m Golden Orb spiders from Madagascar which has been on display in the V&A. It took 8 years to make and is incredibly beautiful.

Kate is going to send her speaker’s fee ‘to Fidi, in Andasibe, who is a local man who tries to get things done for the village at grass roots level such as helping the children get to school and providing meals for the poorer children and older folk.’ He was the person who looked after them day to day on behalf of Projects Abroad.