WI Newsletter – February 2004

This year’s meetings seem to be heralded by snowfall, however, this doesn’t deter the Women’s Institute, our members were very keen to turn out in such conditions, and once again, we were able to welcome some new faces to our meeting.

We began the evening with our News & Events; this is how we all keep up-to-date with what is happening in our Institute as well as at County and National level. Plans are well ahead for the Danebury Group Spring Meeting next, as it is our turn to be the Hosts. This means we are responsible for providing the refreshments, a challenge to which Abbotts Ann is sure to rise to, with plenty of willing volunteers to assist.

We are already looking forward to the summer, not only with our visit to Amport House on 17 June, but Sue Hancock our outings organiser is investigating the possibility of a visit to Eton College, probably in August. If anyone reading this newsletter is interested in joining us, please do get in touch – contact details on our home page.

Fund raising is always a consideration and we are in the process of planning this year’s event, we have decided on “mid-summer madness” on 30 June in the Village Hall, it will be interesting to see how we develop this theme – so watch this space.

Earlier this month Shelia Lockhart, our Secretary, and I attended a workshop at WI House in Winchester, entitled “A Chance to Speak” we did not know what to expect, but we found ourselves working very hard and were shattered at the end of the day. This was a chance to have some hints and advice on how to enlighten the more formal part of the evening in both senses of the word. We need to get the information across to our members, but in an enthusiastic informative format. We were also told how to stand, not to wear anything that would distract the listener from what we were saying, for instance large earrings, bright scarves etc, but always to have a smile on our face. Apparently, this automatically lightens and lifts the voice. We are not sure, if we succeeded or if anybody noticed a difference – we will try again next month.

Our speakers certainly knew how to get their message across; we were delighted to welcome Sue Howell & Molly Falcon who are both retired and who, on a whim, found themselves driving from Brooklands in Surrey all the way to the Sahara in a Peugeot 106 with about 100,000 miles on the clock!

Molly explained how this came about. Although she was thoroughly enjoying the freedom that retirement offered, particularly in the summer months, it was a different story once winter arrived. A few years ago, whilst reading the Saturday newspapers she spotted an item seeking entrants for this adventure. This immediately caught her eye as we had just suffered a prolonged spell of wet weather and the thought of some welcome sunshine was very tempting. Eyeing up her brother’s brand new car she quickly realised she would need another companion for such a trip. She immediately telephoned her friend Sue Howell, who called back within 10 minutes of reading the article and said – “we are going”. Having managed to raid their piggy banks for the not insubstantial entrance fee, checked whether the local Peugeot garage thought that the car would make it, they were off. Stirling Moss was the starter on the day and he was lost for words when he saw these two women on the starting line.

We were shown videos and slides of cars that had rolled over, crashed, fallen apart etc., but the “little grey rabbit” as their car was christened carried them safely to the desert – only to turn around and do the return trip. They had thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but felt it was a once in a lifetime experience and said to themselves NEVER AGAIN. However, some months later when attending a “rally reunion” they were offered the opportunity to drive a car, provided by Daihatsu, this time from Oxford to Athens, were they interested – they did not hesitate, and were off again.

They described to us the poor condition of the “main” roads as they drove through Eastern Europe, the camaraderie of their fellow competitors and how they finished-off their days. Not for them jacking up the car, taking off the wheels, and looking into the bonnet, oh no, once they had cleaned their windows and mirrors, checked the engine levels, it was off for a gin and tonic. These women are indomitable and are hoping to be off again later this year, participating in the revived RAC Great Britain Rally. For this they need to find a car and possibly some sponsorship, as unfortunately it is the entrance fees which prohibit them from entering more often, otherwise I am sure you would not see them for dust. Whether it is from the Sahara or the Acropolis.

They certainly brightened our evening.

Next month we welcome Mrs M Emery who is coming to tell us “You cannot possibly miss it” – this is an intriguing title, so we wait with some anticipation for her to reveal to us what this means.

Please don’t forget visitors are always welcome to our meetings, there is a small entrance fee but I can assure you it will be worth it.

See you on the 25 March – 7.30 p.m.

Sharon King