WI Newsletter – March 2005

On the first day of the month our skittles team were in action, unfortunately being beaten in the last round by one skittle, thereby missing the Final.

The following day I was off to Denman College in Oxfordshire for a three-day conference about Community Challenges. For those who don’t already know, this is the National Federation’s own college which is open all year to members (and now non-members) for a variety of courses. Many Institutes and Federations offer bursaries, which are eagerly sought after.

On this occasion, I had been invited to make a presentation on our three challenges, paying particular attention to the archiving of our Institute records and the restoration/repair of our banner. This was a new experience for me, one I was very much looking forward to, although a little apprehensive as well. However, right from the start it was like being amongst old friends, everyone was so friendly and approachable.

Some of the topics discussed were the dangers of too much salt in our food, the benefits to our health and general wellbeing by being active in our community as well as virtuous cycles. If this all sounds a bit heavy, I can assure you it was all very enjoyable with plenty of light relief with good food and wine. I was proud to represent Abbotts Ann.

The following week our Secretary and I attended a workshop at W.I. House in Winchester, entitled Perk up your Programme, where we gleaned various tips and ideas. Stay tuned for developments, especially at our May meeting!

The Danebury Group Meeting was next; there was a last minute change of venue to Longstock where the theme for the evening was the sweet chestnut. Chris Howkins told us all about this tree, its long history and many uses, from its medicinal qualities to its hardwearing properties which make it ideal for garden furniture. There was a chestnut flavour to the competition as well, as each Institute had to provide a dish and recipe using this ingredient. Guess who won – yes we did. Shelia Lockhart made a scrumptious chestnut gateau.

Portsmouth was our next port of call; three of us attended the Hampshire Federation Spring Council Meeting. Speakers at this event included Richard Cuzens who explained the detailed planning that is required for the annual New Forest show. This was followed in the afternoon by James Wight. Who? I hear you ask? You would be more familiar with him if I explained he is the son of the author, James Herriott. James has certainly inherited his father’s great talent of being able to portray the life of a country vet in Yorkshire.

There is barely room to write about our own meeting on the very last day of the month, when we were fortunate to have with us the Rev’d Nicky Judd, who explained her journey to becoming an ordained minister in the Church of England. She had us amused when she explained how merely dressing the part caused a few problems in the beginning. The ecclesiastical outfitters were just not used to measuring females, and were somewhat embarrassed by the process. Fortunately, times have changed, and there is more choice in the style of clothes available as well. Although she has encountered some prejudice, overall everyone has been very kind and welcoming.

I can tell you very little about our meeting in April, as this is being organised by non-committee members and is kept as a surprise. All I can say is it will be at the Village Hall at 7.30 p.m. on 28 April – so please come along and see for yourself.

Sharon King