Wycombe Wenches WI
We opened our March meeting by welcoming our 50th member and celebrated this milestone with a glass of Prosecco! We are only 8 years old, which is very young for a Buckinghamshire WI.
Our talk for the evening was ‘A year on the Farm’. The farm was Wren Davis, a small family organic farm also known as Collings Hanger Farm in Prestwood. It was a fascinating talk by Virginia Deradour on what goes on behind the hedge. The fields are hosts to wildflowers, daisies, clover, cowslips, wild orchids, poppies: flowering throughout the year. Her organic cows have names - for those born in 2020 they start with ’S’. Some also have a career in acting as well as beef production. The farm has hosted film crews, which made us smile, when some of the crews were scared of the cows they had come to film! They also have Tamworth pigs and some Gloucester Old Spots. The pigs are spoilt with fruit and vegetables that cannot be sold at the N&P fruit and vegetable shop on the farm. The farm has large orchards of apples, cherries, pears and plums. Ancient varieties of log straw wheat are grown, and the farm now sells nine varieties of flour for bread making and home baking. They have visits from schools who have travelled in from as far away as London, they host weddings, the local Steam rally and a firework display in November. All in all, the staff work hard and are kept very busy serving the local community. We were planning to all visit officially in the summer, with tea and cake, but this will probably now be in 2021.
Then the world changed with the arrival of Covid 19 and we had to adapt to a very different style of living, staying at home for the majority of the week and learning to social distance when out for essentials.
All our usual events since March 23rd have been cancelled – Monthly meetings, supper club, a walking tour of Oxford, a day out at the Waddesdon National Trust in July, where we were due to have enjoyed a picnic, and a visit to the house and a scarecrow building competition, which we were taking part in. Hopefully we can look forward to this being rescheduled for 2021. Our brand-new WI Banner, which we have enjoyed designing and stitching, is now finished and it would have been paraded along with other Buckinghamshire WI banners through Aylesbury Town Centre on Thursday May 21st which is exactly 100 years to the day since the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women’s Institute began. We may be biased, but our banner looks fabulous and is a very colourful representation of a High Wycombe Chair Arch. We look forward to unveiling it in the future.
So now to Lockdown 2020. Like other WI’s in the UK, the Wycombe Wenches have been busy sewing laundry bags for our NHS staff to put their scrubs in to take home and put directly into the washing machine, thus preventing cross contamination in their homes. Our sewers used duvet covers, pillowcases and sheets along with other materials they had in their fabric stash at home to make 55 bags in total. A nurse was interviewed on BBC news as she was using two such bags and was finding them extremely useful. We also received this lovely message from an NHS employee “I work as a paramedic and it means so much to me, that in these times of hardship your group took the time to make these bags. Your actions have helped to keep me and my family safer”
Receiving messages like these lets us know our efforts are so worthwhile and we feel it is the least we can do to support our front-line heroes.
Our Wycombe Wenches Sewing Team were not made redundant after the bags were finished - they were then kept busy with another project, the making of fabric reusable face masks. One wonderful member, a retired nurse, created kits of fabric, two patterns, interfacing, thread and tape for us to collect and we all got cracking. We made 200beautifully sewn masks in under two weeks, which were distributed free of charge to the elderly and vulnerable members in our community, Hill’s Community Cafe, One Can Trust volunteers, and Wycombe Women’s Aid for their staff and families in the refuges. Everyone was thrilled with these reusable masks and we were delighted that they were so well received.
We have been enjoying a weekly virtual coffee get together on Zoom, we have been shown how to cut our own hair, enjoyed a bake and show session and played a few games of bingo. Our monthly WI meeting for May was a Scavenger Hunt, held on our Institutes WhatsApp chat group. This was a wonderful hour’s hilarity as members searched for the relevant items around their homes and uploaded photographic evidence of their finds.
We had a very patriotic Zoom meeting to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of VE Day. There was definitely a lot of Red, White and Blue going on as we shared elderly relatives’ memories of VE Day, had a group sing-along and enjoyed a World War II Trivia Quiz. We finished at 3pm listening to Winston Churchill’s VE speech on the television and raised a glass of fizz to toast all those who gave their lives for our freedom. We thank you so much.
This is such a trying time for all, a situation the country has never experienced before and hopefully will never again. Our members have kept busy with different activities, gardening, on line exercise classes, our WhatsApp group, virtual get togethers, sewing, painting, community projects and supporting each other when life feels tough. Then there those jobs that have been on a ‘to do list’ for a few years – sorting the loft out or years of photographs etc. Thank goodness for technology for keeping in touch, with our WhatsApp group we can see who the early risers are and who are the night owls! Many had never heard of Zoom until lockdown, now it is in almost daily use. When life returns to normal, I am sure we will have a different outlook and we can look forward to the day this happens and are able spend precious time with our families and friends again, and also enjoy meeting our WI extended family face to face with our regular meetings and activities.
You can still find us on Facebook at wycombewencheswi and our website, wycombewi.weebly.com.
We will update both regularly with news of when we can reopen our Monthly meetings, you would be most welcome to join us.
Susan Dawson and Helen Speakman
Terriers Evening WI
During this period of lock down Terriers WI's meetings have, along with all other social gatherings been suspended for an indefinite period so some of us have been recording our thoughts and experiences of this very strange time.
Many of us are able to remember the days when the arrival of the Corona man was something to be greeted with delight when he arrived outside the house on a hot summer day with his lorry full of fizzy pop. Back in the 1950s no-one worried too much about the consumption of tooth-rotting, obesity-promoting sugary drinks so Corona was something to be welcomed. How times have changed!
Now, as stalwart members of the Women's Institute we tackle, with fortitude and humour, the worries and privations that confront us at this strange and difficult time. We would like to share a few of those experiences below
“In particular one of the most common experiences has been that of the kindness of others.
In my own road the neighbours have been wonderful, checking on those we know to be frail or alone, collecting shopping and chatting on the doorsteps, at the appropriate social distance, of course.
One neighbour shared a bag of flour with us so we were able to make hot cross buns for many folk. We share vegetable plants and, somehow, inadvertently, a paper-back book exchange seems to have started up on my drive after I tried to clear out my unwanted novels.
The lovely sunshine has helped, of course to make lock down more bearable and our proximity to both park and common makes for easily accessible daily walks.”
“ The good weather has prompted all the gardening that never seems to get done under normal circumstances. A daily walk and the beautiful countryside. The 100 miles target set for the centenary of the WI will be easily achievable. A What's App group set up for our residents association has much interaction with previously unknown neighbours and countless offers of help from people still going to the shops. When the weather is not as good as it has been lately the recycling project of greetings cards will continue.
Carol and I have kept in touch with our members to chat and see how they are and to ascertain that they are coping, and to pass on news of other members.”
“What I would like to do is say how much I appreciate the acts of kindness shown to me by friends and strangers alike. For instance one friend adds my shopping list to her online order and then one of her adult children leaves my groceries at my door; this involves a car journey.
As to how I spend my time, well much of it is thinking about jobs I could undertake but reading, crosswords, jigsaw puzzles and various handicrafts take precedence and the jobs can wait.”
“There is, they say, a first time for everything and it came upon us one day in March.
From a country thousands of miles away a highly infectious virus that did not like being shut indoors set upon a world-wide tour.Time and routine are no more.
By staying in we will win. It's a struggle and a muddle but don't despair we have the caring NHS and nature will repair.”
Terriers Evening WI normally meets on the first Thursday of every month, except August, at 7.45pm at Cedar Park School, Cedar Avenue, Hazlemere. Visitors and new members welcome once meetings re-start.
For more details please contact Celia Carter on 07538 200933.