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WI Newsletter – April 2006

The good news continues as once again, we welcomed another new member to our Institute this month and the hall was full, as our membership was enhanced by the presence of visitors, friends and guests.

How many of us have known since we were 8 years old what we wanted to do in life? Well our guest speaker, Maureen Rose had; her ambition was to be a dressmaker and work for Norman Hartnell.

However, it didn’t happen overnight, following a three-year course at Kilburn Technical College, Maureen began work in Coronation year in an exclusive dress shop in Bond Street; glamorous customers included Mary Martin and Ava Gardner.

When the shop closed down some years later, now married with two small children, Maureen decided to work from home specialising in evening and bridal wear. That is until the day her cat decided to make its bed in a very fine pale pink veil, due to be worn two days later!

Although no harm done, Maureen decided the time had come to open premises of her own, leading to an opportunity to achieve the second part of her dream. Her talents came to the attention of Norman Hartnell, and as a result, she went to work for him on a freelance basis. Maureen learnt a lot and thoroughly enjoyed her time with him, but was then invited to work with Ian Thomas, himself a former protégé of Norman Hartnell and by now couturier to Her Majesty the Queen.

Now reality surpassed her dreams and it was in 1974 that a very excited Maureen made her first of many visits to Buckingham Palace. Over the years, she also attended Her Majesty at Windsor, Sandringham and Balmoral to fit her for royal tours and engagements. Maureen found her delightful, very easy to talk to and the whole atmosphere very different to that painted by the media.

Members were encouraged to look at fabric offcuts and many photographs taken of the Queen wearing the result of Maureen’s hard work. Many questions followed – but it was time to give Mrs Rose a well-earned cup of tea and bid her farewell.

As is usual an update was then given to the members not only at our Institute level, but also matters relating to Hampshire Federation and National issues and events.

Two days later seven members walked a further stretch of the Test Way, this time from Wherwell to Longparish – although a little cool, the weather stayed dry and it was a delightful relaxing two hours – it has been quite a revelation to discover how much the countryside changes as we progress along this well trodden path. Yes, of course we managed to finish just in time for lunch at the village pub!

Forthcoming Events:

13 May: Table Top Sale – 10.30 a.m. Village Hall

25 May: Resolutions

01 June: Visit to Porton Down

29 June: Garden Meeting : Poplar Cottage

05 July: Visit to Osborne House & the Isle of Wight – there are seats available on the coach – please contact us for further details

27 July: – Themed Evening – Childhood Recollections

As is traditional, at our May meeting we will be debating the two resolutions that will be voted on at the AGM in Cardiff on 07 June. The two topical issues are the use of renewable energy technologies in all new buildings, re-building and renovation and participation in sport in the creation of a healthy nation. This will be followed by something a little more light hearted.

Sharon King

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