Past events

A Review of 2022

13 June Your Sanctuary

Our speaker was Fiamma Pather from Your Sanctuary, Woking. During the 1970s the need for refuges was first conceived and started by a group of women. As well as physical abuse, many women suffer emotional and psychological abuse and their homes are no longer a safe place. Before 2015 only assault was an offence but then coercive control also became illegal. Fiamma gave us some staggering statistics about abuse. 1 in 3 to 4 women will experience abuse in their adult lives. 1 in 5 children live with domestic abuse and therefore don’t know what a good relationship is. 1 in 6 to 7 men also experience domestic abuse. 2 women per week are murdered by their partner or ex-partner just in England and Wales. Your Sanctuary aims to give women a safe space. They have a help line operating 9 to 9 seven days a week.  They also provide an outreach service with support workers, 2 refuge houses, specialist children’s services, specialist male outreach worker and outreach workers connected to St Peter’s hospital, some police stations and housing departments. They are continuing to expand their work. Last year they had 360 referrals from Surrey Heath and nearly 10000 from the whole of Surrey. Fiamma then answered the many questions members had.

After the talk our 10th Anniversary cake was cut and eaten!

9 May   Bees at the Bottom of the Garden

Our speaker, Elizabeth Knight,  keeps bees in Elstead.  We learned many interesting facts. Honey bees are incredibly well organised with each bee having a job to do. The workers collect the nectar, sort out the hive, create draughts and account for 98% of the hive. The nurse bees tend to the developing bees.  Male drones account for the rest and suffer a nasty fate after mating!  There is one queen and she is larger than the rest. 80% of her abdomen is taken up with her ovaries and she can lay up to 2000 eggs a day.
Bees see flowers in UV light and some flowers have been adapted for different sorts of bees to pollinate. Bees can fly up to 3 miles to find something they like. Their antenna can sense the temperature and also they know when it is going to rain. The type of flowers they get the nectar from affects the colour and texture of the honey. They have developed a waggle dance which tells the other bees where to find nectar.
These are just a few of the fascinating facts we learnt from a true enthusiast. Elizabeth ended by telling us of the threat from the Asian Hornet which has got as far as the Channel Islands and causes decimation to honey bee colonies.
Members had many questions.

11 April  Easter Craft

We all had a very entertaining evening trying decoupage and ended up with sticky fingers, plus some lovely butterflies!  Thank you Annie!

14 March  Bronzefield Prison

Dee Flarry is the Administrator at Bronzefield Prison and President of the in-prison WI Group, Bronzefield Bees.  She gave a fascinating and informative talk about the organisation of the prison and answered many questions about life in the prison.  Afterwards we struggled to find room in her car for the many donations of wool, fabrics and other craft items.

14 February The Lumberjills – Britain’s Forgotten Army

Joanna Foat’s interest in researching Lumberjills started when she worked with the Forestry Commission. She met with 60 former Lumberjills and heard about their experiences during the war. It was a very interesting talk with lots of photos and anecdotes from the girls. The UK had imported over 90% of the wood it needed before the war and so to keep the mines going, build ships etc, during the war it was necessary to fell our own trees. Obviously there were not enough men around to do this so  women had to be used. The Lumberjills worked alongside men who were conscientious objectors, POWS and some Canadian lumberjacks. They did all the jobs the men did such as sawing, trimming, haulage, working in the sawmills and planting replacement trees. They lived a life very different from their previous ones. They had much more freedom than they were used to, they became very fit and formed lifelong friendships. As one of them said “I would not have missed it for the world” At the end of the war they were not recognised and had to give their uniforms back and return to their previous lives. It was not until 2007 that they got the recognition they deserved and later were able to take part in Remembrance parades. Statues have now been put up to remember the work they did.

10 January Sarah Jane Croke Mayor of Surrey Heath

Sarah Jane gave us very interesting and entertaining talk about her career and how she became involved in local politics. She comes from Newcastle and initially wanted to be a vet but decided after her work experience it was not for her. She instead followed her other passion, the stage. This involved being an extra in Byker Grove, working with underprivileged children and as a redcoat at Butlins. She decided that she preferred backstage work. She did make up for CATS and then worked for Estee Lauder. Finding London too expensive, she finally moved to Frimley and started her shop on Frimley High Street. Eventually she had to close as the rent charged by the private landlord was too much and so she started the Frimley Business Association to try and fight the rent increases. She realised that they needed a voice on the council and so applied to be selected by the Tory party and got elected in 2019. She told us a little of what she does as both mayor and councillor and how she wants to represent the people of Frimley and Surrey Heath. Her charities as mayor are the NSPCC, Crossroad Care and Merge Advocacy. She has so far raised £6500.

A Review of 2021

13 December  Festive Food, Fizz and Fun

The theme for the evening says it all.  We had fun!   As well as eating, drinking, a secret Santa and a raffle, Judy our president demonstrated how to make some brilliant Christmas table decorations, an inspiration to us all.   Annie organised the really attractive hall decorations and Christmas tree and many others helped set things up.  Members contributed to the delicious selection of food.  A very successful evening.

8  November  ‘Life as a prison governor. A unique experience’

Roger Monksummers gave an entertaining and informative talk about his life in the prison service. Roger was brought up on a farm and started his working life with pigs. He joined the prison service after visiting a recruitment tent at an agricultural show. He was put on the accelerated prison officer scheme and worked in a variety of prisons. He told us about the principles he used and that the most accurate media portrayal of life in a prison was Porridge!

11 October  Flower Design Demonstration by Carol Ferris

Carol visited us before a few years ago and we were delighted to welcome her back.  We were enthralled as she chatted away and demonstrated 12 stunning and very different displays, all of which were raffled.  Many of us took photos and some feeling inspired promised themselves a visit to Longacres as soon as possible!

Carol’s demonstration lasted approximately one hour after which cakes and refreshments were available, in spite of the fact that because of the covid restrictions the kitchens weren’t fully open.  Free raffle tickets were given to the delighted surprise of everybody.  A thoroughly good time was had by all.

13 September

Michael Woolard spoke about his life as a journalist. He started at the Barnet News Group which had Margaret Thatcher as its  local MP. As well as covering her political meetings, he also covered WI meetings. He then moved to the Derby Daily Paper followed by a spell with Reuters in East Africa where he encountered Idi Amin who he described as the most frightening man he had ever met.

He returned to the UK to work for the BBC in their news department initially at Alexander Palace and later at the White City. He gave us his thoughts on various journalists and news readers that he had met. He told us about covering events in Northern Ireland and Princess Diana’s death. He then discussed the future of the BBC with respect to changing viewing habits and the licence fee. He emphasised how many parts of the world relied on the BBC World Service for accurate news.

9 August   How fashion changed in the 20th century

This was our first face-to-face meeting for more than a year and we weren’t put off by the torrential rain!  As the speaker was delayed, we were able to start socialising again (while staying socially-distanced, of course).  We also  enjoyed the selection of delicious cakes provided by the committee.
Sadly our speaker had problems finding her way to the hall and was unable to come. The raffle rounded off the evening.
It was good to be able to get together, despite the lack of speaker.

8 June   Picnic in the Park

The weather was kind and it was a treat to meet in person and catch up on news.  Lots of chat and laughter and a very enjoyable afternoon.

10 May  Talk by Michael Woolard

Before he retired, Micahel was a journalist for 40 years.  He started work with a local newspaper in Barnet and Finchley where he encountered Margaret Thatcher. Next move was to Derby, meeting Jimmy Saville and then onto East Africa and Idi Amin! In 1968 he joined the BBC as a trainee editor and continued to work with them. His talk was full of interesting stories and opinions of the people he had met. Unfortunately his internet connection was not good and so after several stops and starts the talk had to halted and will be resumed in person later this year.  We look forward to hearing more!

12 April Simply Chocolate

Jane Napier from Simply Chocolate,  Whitstable. gave a very interesting talk and demonstration about making chocolates. Jane was inspired by a course she attended and she then started  workshops locally. Since lockdown she has been giving talks to WIs all over the UK via zoom.  This worked well as we were able to see everything she did very clearly.
Jane showed us how to melt chocolate in the microwave and then how to temper the chocolate.  She demonstrated ways we could decorate the moulds with coca butter colours, nuts sprinkles etc.  The tempered chocolate was then put into the moulds to form shells.  Once these had set, they were filled with salted caramel. and topped with more chocolate.
Jane also showed us how to make chocolate shards. She used chocolate transfer sheets which are made of plastic and already have a cocoa butter design on them. These are covered in chocolate and then the chocolate can be decorated with sprinkles, different coloured chocolate etc. Blobs of different coloured chocolate can be used and then feathered together. These can be broken into shards, put in boxes and given as presents.  Jane made everything look reasonably simple and very delicious!

8 March  Tom Wray ‘Wildlife on your Doorstep’

Tom gave a fascinating talk on the subject ‘Wildlife on your doorstep’  Tom is a wildlife photographer living in Iver, Bucks.  Although he spends a lot of time overseas, especially Africa, his talk concentrated on the animals he has photographed in the UK.
He described how he often spends a week in a hide or stream or up a tree, getting used to the wildlife and the flight paths of the birds in order to get the best pictures.  Light plays an important part and he usually takes pictures around dawn and sunset.  He tries to capture the character of the animals. It was a fascinating talk and his photos were amazing..

8 February  Roger Cansdale  ‘Heroes and Villains’ of the Basingstoke Canal’

Roger gave a very interesting talk about the history of the Basingstoke Canal.  It took 6 years to build and in 1794 when it was completed it didn’t attract many customers as not that many people wanted to go to Basingstoke, especially once the railway service started. The section up to Woking was used more. In 1869 it went bankrupt and from this time there was a series of owners most of whom ended up as villains! Due to the canal being formed by an act of Parliament most of the sales were in fact illegal.

By 1884 it was used more for recreation and boats were hired out. In 1913 one of the heroes of the Basingstoke canal tried to take a boat down it so that the government wouldn’t close it.

In the 1960s it went into ruin and people started to look at ways to restore it. In 1970 Surrey and Hampshire County Council bought it and gradually the mammoth task of restoring was started using volunteers, army personnel as well as experts.

In May 1991 it was reopened and a lot of the work to keep it open is done by volunteers and money is made from the boat trips towards this. It’s future is still uncertain as both the county councils do not have a lot of cash to spend on it, although it is a very popular feature of the area

11 January Stephen Wells ‘The Curious Incident of Agatha Christie’

In this very interesting talk, we heard about Agatha Christie’s life, her disappearance and her books.  Stephen also talked about the characters she created and their portrayal in film and on television.  There were so many fascinating facts including that her main plot device in her first novel was that the one person who couldn’t possibly do the murder did it!

Stephen’s top 5 Agatha Christie novels are:
1. The ABC murders
2. And then there were none
3. Murder on the Orient Express
4. The murder of Roger Ackroyd
5. A murder is announced

Following the talk we voted on this year’s Resolutions.

A Review of 2020

14 December  Christmas Fun

We enjoyed an online evening of chat with a Christmas quiz, Christmas Dingbats, jokes, videos (minus the sound owing to technical issues) and a poem.  It was a cheering way to end our year.  The committee also delivered Christmas treats to everyone – a mini iced Christmas cake, a chocolate orange and a card.  An unexpected surprise which was appreciated by everyone.

 9 November  AGM and Quiz

The Treasurer’s, Secretary’s and President’s reports had all been circulated beforehand and there were no questions arising from these. The accounts had been independently audited and signed off by the SFWI recommended independent auditor. The membership supported the adoption of the accounts.
The President talked about the forthcoming meetings and how they would have to be done via zoom. She thanked Alison for her work on the programme as it had involved a lot of rearranging of speakers.
The committee and President are staying the same as last year except that June is standing down as Treasurer. She will remain on the committee. Shirley is taking over as Treasurer. This was approved by the members present unanimously.
Bobbi thanked the committee and Judy for all their hard work.
The members then enjoyed a quiz naming the top ten of various topics.

12 October  Poetry to amuse, entertain and illuminate

Robbie Sprague, a retired primary school head teacher entertained us with anecdotes about his life and poetry readings. These included verses by a range of poets from Spike Milligan to Shakespeare. Some were well known, others not so. Some were funny others more thought provoking. Our first Zoom meeting was success!

9th March A Year in the Life of a Mayor

Robin Perry, the Mayor of Surrey Heath, explained that he attended over 300 events in the year.  He is firstly a councillor representing a ward on Surrey Heath Borough Council. He is elected to be Mayor by his fellow councillors and chairs the bi monthly council meetings. He holds office from May to May.  As an ambassador for the Borough he attends various events as the Borough’s representative. He also raises funds for local charities.

His chosen charities for this year are Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Care, Surrey Young Carers, Frimley and Camberley Cadet Corps and Surrey Heath Tree Wardens.  He hopes to raise about £15000 for these charities by organising events such as a bowling tournament and Charity Ball.

Robin then answered questions about his work and the development of the town centre.

10th February Surrey Search and Rescue

Rosie Jordan has been a volunteer for 9 years. She described Surrey Search and Rescue as Lowland rescue, similar to mountain rescue but without the mountains! They mainly deal with searching for missing people, such as people with dementia those with mental health problems or children. Last year they were called out 123 times but this year they have already had 23 callouts. They are the busiest team in the UK and have 66 qualified members, 5 support staff, 3 search dogs and 11 trainee search dogs. They are equipped with 5 vehicles which include 2 incident control vehicles. They also are able to search in water and use drones.
They are 100% volunteers, 100% professional in the way they are trained and 100% funded by donations. It takes 6 months to train a search technician. Rosie explained the work they do and how they help the police.
Rosie answered questions and then the treasurer thanked her for a most interesting and informative talk. She also gave Rosie a donation of £100 raised for the charity during the meeting.

13th January Dinah Warnock – ‘Fashion through Time’

Sadly bad weather meant that our speaker was unable to come.  All was not lost as June Phillips, our Treasurer, gave a talk about her life.  She has done so much!  It was fascinating to listen to her recollections of her childhood in Hartlepool and her move to Frimley to work at Marconi on the Ariane space project. The thing she noticed most when she moved to this area was all the trees!  After meeting her husband Fred and having 2 children, she trained to be a physics teacher and taught at both France Hill and Tomlinscote schools.  She has always enjoyed voluntary work and has helped with adult literacy, scouting and Activity Extra.  Her latest role is being a governor at Kings International College.  She also enjoys walking and organises our walking group.   

A Review of 2019

9th  December             Christmas Fun

We all enjoyed a sociable, festive evening to end our year.  Carols, delicious refreshments and secret Santa added to the fun.  The table decoration competition was won by Chris Hitchmough. All the leftover food and drink was taken to the Camberley all night café where it was much appreciated.

11th November   Annual General Meeting and Quiz

Our AGM opened with the Treasurer’s report and the accounts were presented to the membership by our treasurer June Phillips. Accounts had been independently audited and signed off by the SFWI recommended independent auditor. The membership supported the adoption of the accounts.

The Secretary’s report was presented to the membership by Annie Ward on behalf of the secretary Mary Glauert. Generally it had been a good year for membership, activities etc.

The president, Judy Campbell summarised the year emphasising the interesting range of activities, trips and visits and speakers during the year.

The election of the president for the forthcoming year was overseen by the tellers from Camberley WI and Judy Campbell was unanimously re-elected.  Patricia Wray joined the committee and the rest of the committee remained the same.

Refreshments and a fun quiz followed.

14th October  ‘Look Fabulous Forever’

Our speaker was Tricia Cusden from the company Look Fabulous Forever. Tricia explained how she had started this company at the age of 65. Her newly born granddaughter had been very ill the year before and nearly died. This made Tricia realise that she wanted to make the most of what was left of her life.  When she retired from her job as a management training consultant she thought about what she could do. She had always been disappointed with the cosmetics available for older women and decided that she would like to develop her own range.

She found someone who could make them for her and invested £40,000 in the brand. She launched in October 2013 thinking that she would sell to friends and parties. After a very good response, she made promotional videos using her friends as models. She put the videos on You Tube and this increased her sales through her website greatly, including orders from overseas. In the summer of 2014 her daughter joined her and the company was short listed in the Guardian start up competition which led to more orders. She was introduced to the head of Google UK and this led to her going to Brussels to talk about how You tube can help your business grow and a piece on BBC breakfast with Steph McGovern. The response to this was so great that the website nearly crashed. With the increase in orders the company expanded and moved out of her front room into offices. They have also opened two shops in Guildford and Wimbledon. Her products are designed to cope with the skin changes in a woman after the menopause.

Annie Ward was then given a makeover while Tricia explained what was being done and why. There was an opportunity to ask questions and to buy products.


9th September   Health and Beauty

This evening we welcome three speakers.

James Everett from Camberley Chiropractor clinic explained the workings of the spine and talked about some common back problems. He showed us the best positions for sleeping and sitting, how to lift heavy objects and which foods and drink are good to encourage recovery from injuries.

Maggie Ryan from Chic beauty gave a demonstration of an anti-aging micro-current therapy facial. During this she explained how it works and gave the benefits of facials plus some tips on skin care.

Jade Carey from Doterra oils talked about the medicinal benefits of essential oils. We were able to experience the effects of peppermint oil and hear about the uses of other oils such as lavender and frankincense.

All the talks were very interesting and members were able to ask the speakers questions later in the meeting.

8th July     A Summer Surprise

Our ‘Summer Surprise was the arrival of the Surrey Fringe Singers, a Barber’s Shop octet,  who sang to us while we had drinks and nibbles. They sang a variety of songs such as ‘When I’m 64’, ‘Under the Boardwalk’, ‘Alleluia’ and ‘Do you feel the love tonight?’ the music was most enjoyable and afterwards they joined our tables and talked about their group and the songs they sang.
Some of them had the pleasure of judging our Victoria Sandwich competition. There were 7 entries and congratulations went to Helen Whapshott for her winning sponge. Everyone then enjoyed sampling the cakes as part of our refreshments

10th June   Carol Ferris – ‘Wish you were here’

Flower designer, Carol Ferris, made 6 flower arrangements under the title  ‘Wish you were here’. These were inspired by various trips she had made. The first reflected Jaipur, with predominantly pink flowers.  The second Venice, with red and green flowers  in a vertical arrangement and the third Kerala, with mauve and orange flowers imitating the heat.
Carol entertained us with anecdotes about her trips while making the arrangements and also explained what she was doing!  Each of her displays consisted of 2 arrangements, 2 of which she had prepared earlier. We all agreed that the arrangements were beautiful and attractively presented with appropriate props to reflect the places they depicted.
Carol  kindly donated the 6 arrangements for raffle prizes.  It was a very enjoyable and fascinating talk.

13th May    Around the World

A cheque for £668 was presented to Clare Watson who is the Head of the Physiotherapy service for neurology and strokes at FPH. This will go towards the expansion of the stroke unit to provide more space for families.
The meeting then continued with our speaker, John Fairley.  He shared with us his experiences of racing a yacht around the world against the prevailing winds as part of the BT Global Challenge. We heard about the training and selection process and saw an exhilarating video of part of the race. The 12 crew faced storms, hurricanes,  a sea swell of 250 feet, the doldrums and icebergs to mention just a few of the many challenges. It was a fascinating insight into the world of ocean racing.

8th April      Bring and Buy

The Bring and Buy sale was in aid of the Stroke Unit at Frimley Park Hospital and raised £168.  Unsold items were donated to local charity shops.  Adding to the fun of the evening was a quiz which taxed us all – identifying famous people from their photos and cryptic clues to the names of pop groups!

11th March      A Passion for Pearls

Frances Carlaw’s  talk  ‘A passion for Pearls’  was very informative and interesting with several amusing anecdotes. Frances used to be a musician but has always had a passion for pearls since she saw her grandmother’s pearl necklace when she was 7 years old. She makes jewellery from pearls she buys from various parts of the world.  These she sells and gives any profit to charity. She gives a lot of talks to WIs (about 35 a month) and runs courses at Denman. She is retiring in April and will then live in her renovated farmhouse in Burgundy running courses called Pearls before Wine!
She explained that there were 3 different types of pearls.   Faux is the largest group and made from glass beads covered in varnish.  Natural is a much smaller group. These pearls are formed inside the bodies of some bivalves without any intervention and are rare and expensive.  Cultured pearls, the last group, are helped to form by man on pearl farms.
The process of pearl formation has only been found relatively recently. Frances explained the process and how different shapes of ‘seed’ give rise to different shaped pearl and how the type of bivalve alters the colour of the pearls. The seed is formed from the mummified remains of a burrowing parasitic maggot!.
Frances kindly donated 2 sets of earrings to the raffle. There was also a very impressive and tempting range of items she had brought with her which were available to buy.

11 February – Neil Stace the Sewing Soldier

Lt Col. Neil Stace gave a very interesting and amusing talk about his career in ‘sewing’ and the army. He ffirst started sewing at Primary school when girls were allowed to join the football club so he and his friend asked to join the sewing club. He used to make clothes for his action men and this then continued into making things for his girlfriends. He is incredibly talented and can make clothes, even wedding dresses, without using a pattern.
During his army career, he used sewing and knitting in places like as Belfast, Bosnia and Basra. Teaching women to sew in Afghanistan completely changed their lives.
He then went onto give us the inside story of when he competed in the Great Sewing Bee and to tell us about his latest project. This is called Flags of Thanks. Anyone can make 30cm squares which will be joined together to make items for homeless veterans. Information about this can be found at

 14 January  Part 2 The Balkans

This was a second visit from Gareth Bonner and followed on from his talk last year about Bosnia which was very well received.  This time he told us about his experiences in Kosovo. Gareth worked in military intelligence and is now retired although he does consultancy work about many aspects of military history.  He recapped on his work in Bosnia and then went on to talk about the situation in Kosovo from 1998 to 1999. Gareth gave a very informative and interesting account of events both on a political and personal level.  After refreshments members voted on the NFWI Resolutions.

A review of 2018
A review of 2017
A review of 2016
A review of 2015
A review of 2014
A review of 2013
A review of 2012