W.I. Newsletter November 2015

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Unfortunately, the rather wet weather put paid to the walking group’s plans this month, but the reading group gathered to discuss their latest selection, Carol Taylor hosted the coffee morning and the supper club met at The White Horse Inn in Thruxton. It was a lively group and everyone was delighted with their main course selections and the desserts were delicious. We thoroughly enjoyed our second visit to this hostelry.

The Cinema Club went to see the latest James Bond film – Spectre which was a complete contrast to last month’s choice which had been Suffragette. Apparently, the film has some harrowing scenes, but what came as a shock to our members was a list at the end of the film detailing the years that women, in different parts of the world, finally got the vote. I dare you to look it up. It is quite astounding.

One woman who certainly makes her own decisions is Penny Aikenhead who was our guest speaker this month. Back in 1990 Penny spotted an advertisement seeking young people to join in an expedition to Outer Mongolia, and what started as a possible challenge for her teenage son, turned into a life changing decision for her. Once she had passed the exhaustive selection process, she then embarked on two years of hard work including fund raising and learning new skills including speaking the language. Although once she left the main City in the East, this was of no use to her at all.

Penny had various roles, but principally she was in charge of transport for the expedition and whilst this involved horsepower, it was of the four legged variety. This expedition was located in the western hinterland where there are no roads.

The expedition also had various objectives, but two of them involved medical programmes. In a Country where the snow starts falling in August and doesn’t melt until April, it is not surprising that the glare from the whiteness causes a great deal of sight problems and childhood inoculation against diphtheria and other diseases had ceased at this time.

Annually, a group of eye surgeons offer their services to carry out cataract operations, but to enable this process to work efficiently, those needing surgery are found and prepared ahead of their arrival. Penny, an experienced horsewoman, along with other medically trained volunteers travelled many hundreds of miles on horseback on wild and rough terrain seeking out those in need of eye surgery and vaccination amongst the scattered inhabitants.

Penny shared with us various memorabilia and images from her time in the Country and our members were in admiration of Penny’s courage and commitment, and although over 20 years since she visited the Country, it has made a lasting impression on her and changed her attitude to life.

We will next be meeting on 10th December for an evening of festive entertainment and refreshments. 7.30 p.m. in the Village Hall if you would like to join us.

Diary Dates:

01 December Cinema Group – Lady in the Van
08 December – Reading Group
10 December – Monthly Meeting – 7.30 p.m. in the Village Hall
12 December – Walking Group (weather permitting!)