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Oakley and Deane WI
AT THEIR January meeting, Major Paul Whittle gave members a most interesting talk on a train journey through Sri Lanka on the Viceroy Special.
Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, gained its independence in l948 and became a republic in 1972 changing its name to Sri Lanka. The train in question, the Viceroy Special, is the only steam train in the country. During the second World War Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, used a special train to and from his headquarters in Kandy and this was the inspiration for the Viceroy Special. It is operated as a private train on all railway lines in the island.
The journey started in Colombo and throughout its journey northwards an abundance of wildlife could be seen including herds of elephants in their natural habitat as well as rain forests and beautiful cascading waterfalls. There were also many tea plantations, although apparently until 1870 coffee was the main crop, and many temples with a wealth of beautiful paintings and statues.
A stop was made at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage which was founded in 1975 to provide care and sanctuary to orphaned baby elephants and several slides were shown of them being fed and bathed which were quite delightful. The houses on the island are mostly of a colonial style but have a very English look with gardens and lawns and the island is also home to the Sri Maha Bodhi tree which is the oldest documented tree in the world.
In all it was a really most interesting talk with lovely slides showing that Sri Lanka is a really beautiful island.
During the evening, there was a bring-and-buy sale, and reports were given on the various Christmas events including a celebration of a well attended one at the Baptist Church, in Brighton Hill, and one arranged by group at Cliddesden. Forthcoming events include a lunch at BCOT and a visit to Birdsong at the Haymarket.
Each year members have the chance to put forward issues that they want to see the NFWI to campaign on or raise awareness of and so discussion was held on the two proposed resolutions to ascertain which one they wished to be taken forward to the AGM to be adopted.
One was urging members to work with all sectors of society in partnership to keep young people suicide–safe on line and the other was calling on members of the WI to support their local shops and make the high street their destination of choice for goods and services and asking decision makers to work collectively to help bring an end to the decline of our high streets and to ensure that these flourish and provide a focal point for local communities. It was decided to support the latter.
At the February meeting, Jane Gates will be talking about Bluebells, the respite home in North Waltham, and any visitors will be made most welcome.
The meeting starts at 7.30pm, at the Andover Road Village Hall.