WI Newsletter – January 2012

Members were delighted to be back in the Village Hall for a post-Christmas meal early this month, now that Christmas had come and gone once more, it was a delight to have our favourite caterers return to provide a lovely hot buffet. There was plenty of choice to suit all tastes, followed by scrumptious desserts.

It was great to see so many attend our meeting at the end of the month, including some new faces. Our President and Secretary, Sue George & Wendy Casson, had a packed agenda to get through – plenty of news to impart, topics to debate and dates to put in the diary.

Thankfully, our speaker for the evening, John Owen Smith, was a patient man. John had given us a fascinating insight into the life of Flora Thompson two years ago and was making a return to Abbotts Ann, this time to explain how the accidental discovery, by Joyce Stevens, of seven faded letters hidden in a family bureau revealed the story of one of Australia’s pioneer women.

Joyce lived for 90 years in the same house in Headley in which she was born and she died in 2007 at the age of 93, having spent 30 years searching for the identity of the writer of the letters. Ellen Suter spent most of her life in the gold fields of Bendigo, having left Portsmouth in 1841 at the age of 19 for the new colony of Victoria in Australia. The letters, mostly to her brother William, tell of her life on the other side of the world, her marriage to a man 20 years her senior and the births of 14 children including three sets of twins, of whom only five survived.

The fascinating result of Joyce’s research can be read in a book entitled A Parcel of Gold for Edith.

Our genteel ramble around the Hampshire countryside was a little more adventurous this month as we had to take diversions to cope with blocked footpaths resulting from recent high winds and as the weather was cold, the ground was slippery in parts. However, we all survived and made it back to the pub for lunch, thank goodness.

We welcome Caroline’s Beads at our next meeting on 23rd February at 7.30 p.m. in the Village Hall. Hopefully this will be an opportunity for our members to get crafty!

Diary Dates:

11 February – Walking Group

21 February – Reading Group

23 February – Meeting 7.30 p.m. in the Village Hall – Caroline’s Beads

25 February – Lunch Club

Sharon King