A Review of 2015

A Review of 2015

14 December Christmas Party

This was a fun evening and it was really enjoyable to have time to relax and socialise as there isn’t always enough time to do this at the monthly meetings.    There were two quizzes for everyone to participate in, even though some of the questions were a bit obscure!!  The winning team received a tin of sweets.  There was also a photographic competition for a bit of fun.  Committee members brought photographs of themselves when they were younger and this brought about a lot of discussion and laughter.  Sausage rolls, mince pies and lots of other Christmas goodies were enjoyed by everyone and accompanied with a glass of Bucks Fizz!  The raffle had lots of lovely gifts most of which had been donated and the Vicar drew the winning tickets with great aplomb and made it fun for everyone.

9 November annual meeting

It was fun to look back at the highlights of the WI Centenary year.  It was an auspicious day as this was the anniversary of the first ever WI meeting in England – 9 November 1915. The meeting was not without glitches as we had a power cut but in true intrepid WI spirit the AGM went on with the officers reading by the light of mobile phones!  The lights came on just as we finished so we didn’t have to go without tea and coffee.   Dingbats and other fun quizzes followed the refreshments.

The committee has been elected and we have a new President, Amanda Webster-Robbins.Thank you to our Tellers from Camberley WI, Cara Bradney and Brenda Ross.  With a full and interesting programme of events and visits to look forward to, 2016 should be an interesting year.

12 October  Wine – Pretentious or not?

Back by popular demand, Chris from Majestic Wine gave a very informative talk on wine tasting.  Soon we were all noisily swirling, sniffing and slurping our wine, examining the colour and seeing if it had legs.  We were also able to pair wine with food to see which complemented it and which ‘killed’ it.  A  very enjoyable evening..

14 September Colour Me Beautiful

The first meeting following the Summer break we welcomed back Kerrie Ellis – from Colour me Beautiful.  Kerrie was invited back by popular demand.

Her topic for this visit was dressing to suit your personality and accessories and make up to suit your face shape.  She talked us through the different personality styles and how to identify our own individual style from creative to city chic by completing a simple questionnaire.  It was interesting to find out what our style was and then she showed us the different style of clothes we might wear in the six different categories.

She also talked us through the different face shapes and how to identify which shape we were and to enhance them by the clever use of make-up and different shaped glasses.  It was great fun trying to identify our different face shape and we were certainly a mixture of shapes and styles.

A great start to the Autumn programme.

 13 July West Green House gardens

Since Marilyn Abbott took over the lease of West Green House in 1993 she and her team have restored the gardens and park, introduced Opera in the Garden and won a silver gilt medal at Chelsea in 2014.  Head Gardener, Gareth Manning, gave a fascinating talk about the history of the house and gardens and the way in which they have been developed.  The topics were wide ranging – previous owners, an IRA bomb, follies, the Victorian well head,  problems with drainage for the lake and much more!

08 June First Aid Talk and Demonstration

After numerous attempts to contact our speaker we had the uneasy feeling that he wasn’t go to turn up – our first ‘no show’.  Instead we had a quiz – not quite the same as doing chest compressions to ‘Staying Alive’ but good fun!

11 May Resolutions.  The Role of Women in WW1

Andy Robertshaw, historian, author and broadcaster, spoke about the many roles of women during the Great War, including the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, (Fannys) who rode out on horseback to the front to recover the injured.  He dispelled the myth that nursing was the main activity of women during the war.  The Army Forage Service used women to find food for horses and some worked for the Forestry Corps. The  Voluntary Aid Detachment (VADS) to which Vera Brittain belonged, worked primarily in military hospitals.  As volunteers, they received no pay or contribution towards their uniform and equipment, even having to pay medical expenses if injured in battle.

Andy talked passionately about the impact that the Great War had on women’s lives, bringing this to life through examples of his own family’s experience. He explained how men returning from the war were affected when they found that their jobs had been taken by women.  Women who had worked during the war were expected to return to more traditional occupations.  All of this had an effect on the roles within the family.  It was a fascinating talk and one that we all enjoyed.

 13 April  Life Behind Bars

At our April meeting representatives from HMP Bronzefield in Ashford gave us an insight into ‘Life Behind Bars’ in a women’s prison when they recounted tales and experiences of their daily life there. Apart from being a punitive institution, the prison actively encourages education. It offers courses in a variety of subjects – English, Maths, Beauty, Commerce and Business.  Women also engage in many work activities – decorating, gardening, cleaning and catering.  All of this is geared towards resettlement into everyday life. We were heartened to hear how the detainees support each other throughout their time.  What was particularly touching was how the younger prisoners respected and cared for their elderly companions, regarding them as surrogate Mothers or Grandmothers.  We heard about one particular elderly lady who is affectionately known as ‘Gangster Granny’!

HMP Bronzefield is the first prison in the country to have its own WI, the Bronzefield Bees, and there are 45 – 55 members.  Membership of the WI helps to give back some degree of self-respect to these women.  It allows them to engage in WI activities and they welcome outside speakers and communicate with other WIs.

Thank you to our visitors from HMP Bronzefield for such a fascinating and illuminating talk.

09 March  Help For Heroes

James Burns who is the London and South East Regional Coordinator for Help for Heroes Charity gave a brilliant and thought provoking presentation on the charity which was founded in 2007 with a simple desire to improve the quality of life for those who have suffered life-changing injury or illness whilst serving, or as a consequence of that service. It is strictly non-political and non-critical but simply there to help and support injured personnel and their families.

The presentation gave us an insight into the whole operation from when a soldier is injured on the battlefield to treatment and rehabilitation in the UK, to some sort of normality. There are four recovery centres based in Yorkshire, Essex, Wiltshire and Devon where individuals and their families can access a range of support. Psychological, Sports, Career, Wellbeing and Welfare are provided 50 weeks of the year and are entirely funded by donations from the British public.

A short film showed a young man who suffered horrific injuries in Afghanistan and through the help and support of H4H learnt how to sail. There was no bitterness just a thirst for learning new skills and adapting to a different life. It was very humbling indeed.

09 February  Life After Iran Sandra Simmonds

Sandra returned to give the third of her popular talks.  She was married to an Iranian and lived in Iran as part of a very conservative Moslem family.  She learnt the language and was expected to adopt the religious and cultural customs of the family.  Her first two talks told us a lot about everyday life in Iran during the time of the Shah and Cultural Revolution.  Her last talk was about her very eventful and difficult life after returning from Iran.

13 January 2015 Line Dancing and resolutions

The line dancing was a lively, healthy and fun start to the new year.  It was just what we needed after the long Christmas break.  Eve was an excellent teacher and made everything seem so easy.  The time flew and by the end we were ready to undo all the good work with the tasty refreshments on offer!  This was followed by a presentation of the seven Resolutions that have been put forward for short listing.  Amanda and Debbie rose to the challenge and presented the wide ranging topics in a concise and interesting way – not an easy task!

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