After the excitement of our 100th birthday celebrations in February, Brockenhurst WI settled back into our normal meeting in March. As usual we sang Jerusalem, welcomed 4 new guests and gave out birthday posies to Hilary Blurton, Sue Kingsley-Thomas, Karen McFarlane, Hilary Turner, Wendy Wallace, Diane Webster, Kathryn Whalley and (belatedly) Karen Whitty. There were photographs on display from the birthday party along with the wonderful gifts and cards we received; everyone was so generous.
Sue Garrod (treasurer) gave a finance report. Karen Whitty (secretary) gave a precis of correspondence received including an invitation to WI Fest in May, the Hampshire Centenary Gala Dinner, a writing competition, a cream tea on the Princess Caroline, a forthcoming exhibition to celebrate the WI over the years and a dance session scheduled for March.
The greatest gardener challenge for this year was announced and everyone was given an onion bulb to grow – long story short the largest onion grown at our September meeting is the winner! The organisation of the needlework fiesta (21/22 April) was announced and there was a request for workers and cakes to be made. An historical walking tour of Salisbury was announced for July, our bi-monthly luncheon will be a Shallowmead Nurseries in Boldre on 22 March and the August outing to Denman was announced.
Our speaker for the evening had to sadly cancel at short notice due to ill health but we were very fortunate to secure the most marvellous artist and public speaker Mr Colin van Geffen who gave a stimulating talk entitled ‘Lady (Fanny) Lucy Houston’ who is widely credited as being The Woman Who Saved The Nation yet today she has all but disappeared into obscurity, largely forgotten or unknown by the world she helped to save. When Lucy Houston died, on 29 December 1936, so ended the life of one of Britain’s wealthiest, most powerful, steadfastly passionate, charismatic, eccentric, militant, forward-thinking political activist, campaigner, publicist, philanthropist, socialite, suffragist and romantic of her time. She was originally a dancer and a great beauty whose four high profile marriages elevated her up the social scale in Britain and her wealth steadfastly increased with each marriage. In 1931 she gave very generously to British Aviation and supported Supermarine and Rolls Royce in the aircraft and engine development to enable the British to win the Schneider Trophy that year. Her donation provided a valuable impetus in the development of the engine technology that would ultimately be vital in the second world war because it would have taken Rolls Royce 10 years to raise the funds she donate – they had a great head start. She is known as ‘the saviour of the Spitfire’. She was an ultimate force, a passionate campaigner for causes close to her heart and was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire – a high accolade indeed.
Our lively meeting closed with refreshments and a raffle and there were calls for our speaker to be invited back to give another talk – fingers crossed! Our next meeting in on Monday 9 April at 7.30pm in Brockenhurst Village Hall where our talk will be The Indian Tribes of the North American Plains – see you there.