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Women's Institutes

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: February 06, 2014

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REGARDLESS of the weather, there was a good attendance at the meeting on January 22.

After Jerusalem was sung, Margaret wished all members and the guest, Miss Prail, a happy new year.

Miss Prail was paying a second visit to Bodmin WI. Her talk was about her experiences as a liaison officer for Thomson's, on board a cruise ship, as well as accompanying other tourists on other trips.

Listening to her experiences was so interesting. After moving from North London and settling in Cornwall, she enjoyed greeting and helping people coming off ships on trips.

She speaks fluent Greek; this was more than helpful when resolving tourists' problems at the doctor's, chemist's and hospitals.

One important piece of advice was about holiday insurance: this is an absolute must before you book any holiday. All medication, and prescriptions should be carried in hand luggage, as should spare spectacles, in case of breakage.

She met patients being brought by helicopter and travelled with them to hospital; on one occasion she accompanied prisoners of war, who had been captured by the Germans and force-marched through hostile territory. They were all in a bad way, but were taken care of on board ship with showers and clothes; they were fed and cared for.

Another good hint was about being bitten by midges and mosquitoes; spread on some white toothpaste, that does the trick.

Members all thoroughly enjoyed her second visit. She may write a book eventually.

After questions, a vote of thanks was given by Margo.

Margaret had made helpful leaflets regarding various things happening and announced she had been invited to join the county federation, on the board of trustees.

Members were very happy with the new venue, upstairs in the Methodist hall, in Fore Street.

Unwanted gifts were accepted for the raffle which helps to boost institute funds. A cheque has been sent to the Bodmin stroke unit.

It was decided that this year, members would not hold their usual meeting this December, but instead on that date would all enjoy a Christmas lunch out again.

A board went round for an outing to St Breward WI on April 23, for a talk by Henry Kendall entitled The World Of Bees. There will be a honey-tasting and plants for sale. The closing date for this trip is March 12; if you wish to go, get in touch with secretary Penny.

Competition results: best flower – 1, Jennie Richards; 2, Irene Westmorland; 3, Margaret Feasey. Sue Buscombe got first for the job she always wanted to do, which was to teach dancing.

At the next meeting, members will welcome the Reverend RA Aven, to give a talk entitled One Lorry-Load Of Goods, which should be very interesting.

Phone the institute's new member buddy on 01208 75339, or just come and visit for a very friendly afternoon with refreshments.


THE JANUARY meeting of Egloshayle WI was a surprise event.

The listed speaker was unable to attend so well-known local artist Stuart Lowden was invited.

Nobody knew what he was going to talk about but he brought along pencils, rubbers, paper and a resting board.

Members were asked to divide into two equal groups and sit facing each other across the table and draw the person opposite.

The finished results were indeed a surprise. It was great fun and it was amazing what talents were revealed!

The next meeting will be held on Thursday, February 13, at which John Coley will give a talk about woodturning. This is an open meeting, which any interested person, male or female, can attend.

The venue is the Exchange, Molesworth Street, opposite the police station, at 2pm.

Visitors are always welcome; for more information, contact Helen, 01208 812669.


THE PRESIDENT, Vicki, welcomed a good turnout of members to the first meeting of 2014, including two ladies who had come to look things over with a view to possible membership.

As is often the case in a new year, there was a minimal amount of business but to counteract that, the January issue of County News was a bumper one, boasting eight pages, some in full colour.

This issue illustrated once again the variety of activities that are available to WI members throughout the country.

The "serious" events include the Spring Countdown meeting at the Hall For Cornwall on April 2, which will include speakers on the resolutions chosen for the 2014 annual meeting.

Under travel, there were two opportunities: a trip to Normandy in June, including visits to Monet's garden at Giverney, Rouen, Honfleur and Bayeux, and the D-Day Battlefields; and in April Westpoint, Exeter, will be staging the Spring Quilt Festival, which is always a popular outing.

The various sub-committees of the Cornwall Federation had obviously been busy during the winter and are now offering many opportunities to display one's talents.

Activity and Recreation is offering an archery evening in April at Redruth Archers' Club Field; Combined Arts is inviting entries for the CFWI Photography Competition 2014 and the CFWI Calendar 2016, as well as competition and entertainment in the Sixth Festival of the Spoken Word and the Cornwall Music Festival.

There is also to be an afternoon of poetry and prose at St Erme Community Hall.

The Environment & Public Affairs sub-committee is inviting entries for the Blaikley Salver Competition 2014, for a poem entitled Harvest Of The Sea.

This is an annual competition open to WI members only and always results in entries of an extremely high standard.

Floral Art would like members to enjoy a gardeners' question time evening with John Harris, as well as a hanging baskets demonstration day at the Duchy College.

And for the really fit and able there is an opportunity to explore Newlyn and learn the history of the town followed by guided walks.

The speaker assigned for January's meeting was well known to many members: he was Tim Ellis, of Ellis Nurseries.

Although he was known for the help he has given the WI with maintaining Pennygillam roundabout, on this occasion he had come to talk about the plants and sights of Malta.

He likes to take holidays where he can study plants in their natural environments, particularly those that he produces in his nursery, especially euphorbias.

Tim had brought many beautiful photographs illustrating the specimens he had found on Malta, including some very rare specimens that are verging on becoming extinct.

He was thanked by Vicki Knights.

Competitions: a photograph from a recent holiday – 1, Christine Bloye; 2, Beryl Parish; 3, Vicki Knights. Flower Of The Month – 1, Rosemary McClenaghan; 2, Phyllis Libby; 3, Rosemary O'Brien.


THE TURNOUT for January's meeting was rather small. It was the first in an experiment to hold the meetings in the afternoon. The guest speaker this month was local man David Wheatcroft. He gave an insight into a cultural exchange to Albania in 1986.

He first gave a brief history of the country and how mixed up it was culturally. It was an up and down culture and life; but then, isn't it in most countries?

Albanians were a very poor but proud people. What they had they shared willingly with David and his students.

The buildings looked impressive from afar, with a lot of Russian influences; but when you got up close you could see they were rundown, and where David stayed was pretty grim, although very hospitable. The electricity was spasmodic.

The Albanians were so proud! The zoo only had a couple of animals; the rest had been used to feed the starving people. They just couldn't afford to look after them.

He also told members of how the leaders thought that everyone outside of Albania wanted to invade, as it was the place to be; Communism was like this, it seems.

The time flew with David's enlightening talk.

The main meeting was short, as there was quite a small attendance. There was not much to discuss, apart from the fact that the interior of the hall had been painted by volunteers; thanks were given to Beth, and everyone who had helped.

The next meeting will be held at 2.30pm on February 13, at which Bev Moss will give a talk entitled Life On The Stage.

The competition was for an old teddy bear – 1, Jinny; 2, Jill, with Ruth and Chris in joint third.

Polruan WI is still looking for new members. Even if you don't want to join, come along to find out what members do and how friendly they are; everyone is always made most welcome. Please give it a try!

St Breward

THE NEW year got off to a flying start with a splendid turnout and a new resident coming for the first time and signing up straightaway!

Members enjoyed the piece about St Breward WI in this month's County News and dealt with the business and enjoyed lunch before settling down to have a go at making cards, with Edith Carey; making jewellery with Lee Brattle, whose lovely pieces can be seen at the weekly country market in Wadebridge, and with Val Hill, who demonstrated some of the ways you can research your ancestry.

What a lovely way to spend a cold and wet winter afternoon!

In February the institute will hold its annual meeting, at which reports for the year are presented. This will be held at 12.15pm on Tuesday, February 11, in the Memorial Hall; a warm welcome is offered to all ladies of the village.

There will also be the usual magazine swap.

If you are new to the village, or have been meaning to come along for a while do give president Fran a call on 01208 851235, if you would like more details,or a lift, or just someone to walk in with; you'll be very welcome.

St Stephen-in-Brannel

NOT MANY meetings at the Women's Institute begin with a free health check; even stranger would be if that check-up were performed by a Saint Bernard dog named Lowen (the Cornish name for happy).

But that is exactly what happened at the January meeting.

It all sounds as if members had fallen down Alice in Wonderland's rabbit hole but all of this is true; and to the residents of St Stephen-in-Brannel it is not at all unusual as Lowen and her owner, Debbie Gill, are a familiar sight around the village.

Lowen is in fact a Medic Dog, who Debbie relies on totally in order to inform her if she is about to have an epileptic fit.

So sensitive is Lowen to Debbie's seizures that she can detect them up to five hours in advance, which can give Debbie vital time to get home and make herself safe.

Not only is Lowen sensitive to Debbie's medical condition, she can also detect if other people are unwell or indeed if they are about to be.

Lowen was able to sense some 48 hours in advance that a gentleman was about to have a stroke and when another gentleman was suffering from a chest infection.

She can also detect stress and high blood pressure.

How, you ask, does Lowen communicate this information?

Well, in the way that dogs have through the ages. She either gives a low bark or growl that Debbie can interpret.

It is pleasing to report that Lowen did not appear to find anything amiss with the good ladies of St Stephen, although she did keep returning to one group; what really seemed to impress her were the biscuits that went with members' tea!

Debbie did have to fit her out with a makeshift bib as, for those of you who have seen the film Beethoven will know, they are rather prone to slobber, but Debbie is not complaining.

In fact, Lowen is due to retire quite soon (she will remain with the family) and Debbie is already gearing up for her next Saint Bernard.

However, Medic Dogs have to be trained and it takes some £70,000 to do this.

The dogs do the Helping Hands course and then embark on further training to become Medic Dogs.

There are 20 dogs in Cornwall, ranging from Jack Russells at one end of the spectrum to Lowen at the other. The charity trains 20 dogs a year.

After all this, members had their competition, which was for a piece of jewellery with an animal theme.

The winners were – 1, Darlene Cook; 2, Grace Gribble; 3, Liz Hawkey.

Birthday posies were presented to Marianne Gribble, Ann Cotton, Cheryl Vercoe, Sue Dovey and Hilary Elliott.

St Issey & Little Petherick

THE LAST meeting of the old year was a very indulgent one, with members enjoying a delicious Christmas meal at the Ring 'O Bells, with a warm welcome from the staff and, as has become the norm, a fun competition from treasurer Joy.

There was a collection in lieu of members exchanging Christmas cards and a sum of £65 was sent to the children's hospice.

Just when the sparkle of Christmas has been put away and our homes need something to brighten them through the short days of winter, members welcomed Danielle, from the Bloom Room as speaker in January.

She showed members just how a small bunch of flowers and some garden greenery can be made into a superb arrangement.

In less than an hour, she had produced four beautiful and different arrangements in a variety of containers – interesting canes in bright colours were clipped and added, giving a real 'zing' and thoroughly modern feel.

While a lovely tea was served by the committee, these arrangements were raffled and four lucky members went off with their prizes.

Danielle is an interesting speaker and brings a modern, easygoing approach to flower arranging.

She is hoping to be able to offer classes on a monthly basis; these will be advertised either on the web or in the shop for those who would like to learn more.

It was a very nice evening indeed.

Nostalgia is on the agenda for the meeting on February 11, with Mr Wilsher on the topic, Papers Past.

The institute's annual meeting will be held on March 11.

Both meetings will be held at Little Petherick Village Hall and commence at 7.15pm; visitors would be welcome.

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