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Guarlford Women's Institute

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WI centenary logoIn January 2018 members of Guarlford WI began the Federation’s Centenary Year enjoying a good lunch with husbands and friends at the Bear and Ragged Staff in Bransford.

Many members braved a cold February evening to hear one of our members talk about visits that she and her husband had made to Tanzania over several years, which included teaching in school there. The connection with Masasi had begun many years before, when an Anglican Franciscan monk had joined the Junior Church Service and picnic one summer. People in the Parish were inspired to begin fund raising for much needed oxen and ploughs (more efficient than hand ploughing) and a shelter to house them. This led to a group from the Village visiting the Bishop and local people in Tanzania to see how the things were going. While there the group experienced travel in the invaluable ancient Landrover, essential transport for so many purposes. It was obvious that this would need replacing, so more fundraising took place and a new Landrover was indeed provided.

Because of snow and freezing weather the 2017 Christmas meeting had not taken place, so proceeds from the February meeting were added to the money already raised for the ACWW New Hope Gardening Project, and a respectable total of £230 was sent to the charity.

The Charity ‘make’ for 2018 was to knit hats for The Mission to Seafarers (a total of 27 was achieved). The Skittles squad continued to play their games in the County Federation league, and enjoyed many evenings getting to know other groups and having fun evenings - enjoying the sandwiches and chips too!

On March 13th Jill Salmons came to talk about ‘Costumes and Cultures of South West China’. Members had a fascinating evening, not only hearing about the speaker’s adventures as she gathered many costumes and artefacts, but also trying on costumes and admiring beautiful embroideries.

In April Catherine Banks and Faith Renger gave us a very interesting talk about the history of nearby Barnards Green and Baldenhall. Members were delighted when they returned to give a short extra talk after the Resolutions Debate in May.

June was a busy month, with our Birthday meeting and also for some members a trip on the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Steam Railway. At the Birthday meeting we enjoyed tasty sandwiches and strawberries & cream, after attempting a series of Quizzes. The sun shone as we enjoyed our trip on the steam railway, from Toddington via Broadway, Winchcombe and Gotherington to Cheltenham Racecourse. There was an interesting commentary about the line which was built in 1902 but closed in 1976, when the track was lifted and many buildings demolished. Thanks to local people and railway enthusiasts the line has been relaid and stations rebuilt, to create one of the longest heritage railways in the country. An added bonus for our special journey was the delicious cream tea served as our train steamed along.

The meeting in July had the intriguing title of ‘Warp, Weft and Niddy Noddy’. One of our very skilled members gave a fascinating talk about weaving and brought along some amazing samples of her work for us to see. On August 14th David Barrie gave us ‘Confessions of a Wine Taster’, when he took us through the various types and qualities of wine, how and where they are produced, and members enjoyed tasting the Chardonnay.

September was a busy month. Several members enjoyed a trip along the River Severn on September 16th on MV Conway Castle, a trip organised for the Severn Group of WIs as part of the Federation Centenary celebrations. There was a very interesting visit to Worcester University for a lecture on Forensics.

On September 11th we had our own Guarlford WI Produce and Handicraft Show, with many classes covering Cookery, Produce, Flowers, Vegetables and a good range of Handicrafts. The visiting WI judges seemed very impressed with the quantity and quality of entries and gave useful constructive comments.

Two young ladies from the Santander Bank came to talk to us on October 9th about “How to avoid scams”, an entertaining and very useful evening. Scams are becoming more complex, but evidently the banks are fighting back. Using a sorting game, Wendy and Mia told us about various scams at the door, on the telephone and computer, and we were given advice on how to avoid being caught. STOP - S = secure your property e.g. with antivirus software; T = take five minutes to think and listen to your instinct “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”; O = Open up if you have been the victim of a scam - tell the police and bank and P = Protect your information - never give away personal details.

A week later, on Tuesday 16th October, four members attended the Annual Council Meeting of the County Federation at the Three Counties Showground. In 2018 the Federation was celebrating the Centenary of its founding, so the Severn Hall was decorated with green, purple and gold balloons, and those attending this special day were given (free) a lunchbox with tasty sandwiches, crisp, salad and fruit, plus a drink and a slice of the special birthday cake. We took with us a collection of unwanted jewelleryfrom our members for the Federation to sell on behalf of Associated Country Women of the World and also a bauble, knitted in WI colours with our name on it, for the WI Christmas Tree in Worcester Cathedral.

There was plenty for members to see and do. Sylvia Beardshaw organised a display of WI textiles, and our Guarlford WI tablecloth was proudly on display (with the story of its creation back in 1941) among all the other cloths and banners. Sylvia had also gathered stories and photographs from the 125 Women's Institutes in Worcestershire for a commemorative book called “Opening Doors: A Centenary Celebration”. The theme of the Craft Rally classes was “Glamour and Glitz”, and during the lunch break members were able to see all the entries as well as visit the various stalls in the main hall.

The morning speaker at the ACM was Lynne Stubbings, chair of the National FWI, and the morning session ended with a lively and amusing performance of monologues, sketches and songs by the ladies of the Performing Arts Committee. Dressed in black leotards and fuchsia pink boas, the ladies sang as their finale Richard Stilgoe’s hilarious “WI Calendar” (“Hi, we’re the WI”), which brought the house down! The speaker after lunch was Erin Boag, dancing partner of Anton du Beke and one time performer on “Strictly Come Dancing”, a charming and entertaining young lady - she seemed to enjoy being with us just as we enjoyed listening to her. A fitting celebration day for the Federation, much enjoyed by all who attended.

Members had another interesting ‘outing’ in November - this time to the recycling plant at Norton. Our Annual Meeting was on November 13th, when the Committee was re-elected and reports given. Members also organised a successful pre-Advent Craft afternoon one Saturday for children & parents and were also very generous in providing items for three Christmas parcels for the Rector’s appeal for boxes to be sent abroad. There was a special Federation Centenary Carol Service in Worcester Cathedral, and our busy year ended with a pleasant Christmas party.  


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