An autumnal chill was in the air last Monday at the September gathering of Brockenhurst Women’s Institute, where some 35 members and 3 guests attended our evening. After singing Jerusalem our president, Liz Wingham, presided over the meeting and Pam McInnes stood in for secretary Karen Whitty’s absence.
We firstly had a heart warming and moving chat from a lovely lady called Viv Carter who is a regional fund raiser for the amazing Honeypot Children’s Charity which is based near Exbury. She described the work that the charity (established in 1996) undertakes which is support for children between the ages of 5 and 12 who are young carers or vulnerable. They are the only charity in the UK that provide respite breaks and on-going outreach support throughout a child’s formative years. They give young carers a break from demanding and stressful responsibilities at home and provide a safe and nurturing environment where children at risk can develop their full potential. Some children are providing up to 50 hours a week caring for relatives and that is on top of their schooling and friendships (such as they are). These are children that would otherwise be forgotten but Honeypot offers them residential breaks at one of their holiday homes plus things like a birthday card and a Christmas present. We, as a WI, have previously supported Honeypot and are delighted to continue with contributions for a local and worthwhile charity that touches your heart.
Sue Garrod then proceeded to give the finance report and, more importantly, an update on the Walking Netball Tournament which seems to be gathering momentum and enthusing members as we re-start the training this month. Liz Wingham asked for the produce sale to be re-introduced at the October meeting (members bring in their own produce to sell to other members) and for the croquet event which took place in the summer to be an annual event – both were unanimously agreed by the members. Feedback on the August outing to Highcliffe Castle was very positive with everyone saying they had a lovely afternoon and the highlight was the generous cream tea. Certificates from the New Forest Show were handed out with many members achieving gold and silver stars although there was an appeal from the president for even more entries next year from our WI which we all agreed we could do. There was a final call for the Weald and Downland Museum day out in November plus the Hampshire Autumn meeting at The Anvil in Basingstoke.
It was agreed that we, as a WI, would participate in the village VE Day celebrations next May so ideas were invited from the members and hopefully we can come up with something original and fun to celebrate this momentous 75th anniversary. Our annual group carol concert date was announced and this year it will be on 4 December at St Nicholas’ Church in Brockenhurst – all are welcome. The skittles competition will be held at the Walkford Arms near Highcliffe on 1 October 2019, the New Forest Show coffee morning will be on 10 October at 9.30am in Bramshaw Village Hall and our American Supper will be on 9 December at our Christmas meeting in Brockenhurst Village Hall (again, supporters welcome at all events).
We then had a short talk by our member Di Fletcher who gave a funny account of the nurse training in the 60’s and 70’s, meeting her future husband Martin on holiday and their married life together through to moving to Brockenhurst and finally the incredible undertaking of creating the Anzac Exhibition at St Nicholas’ Church in Brockenhurst to commemorate the part that Brockenhurst played in WW1. We then had a break for the raffle and coffee and biscuits and then Liz Wingham gave an account of her life. Working initially in the hotel industry (Trust House Forte), being an extra in a Stanley Kubrick film, meeting her husband and their subsequent career together in hotels, notably being tasked to re-establish the Balmer Lawn Hotel after the devastating fire in the late 1970’s. She then went on to re-train as a teacher and eventually took charge of the Nuffield Hospital in Bournemouth, overseeing their amalgamation with the Lansdown Hospital and finally becoming the practice manager for Brockenhurst Surgery where she described managing the doctors as “challenging”! The evening closed fairly late and members dispersed home in the biblical rain that suddenly descended over Brockenhurst Village Hall. Join us next October 14th when a lady called Trisha Lewis will be giving us a talk entitled “Keep Body Beautiful” – fear it may be too late for some of us!