WI News

CHARLTON WI held its annual meeting in April.  It was held early because the WI will be celebrating its 30th birthday with a tea at Esseborne Manor Hotel in May.
The speaker for the evening was Tina Selwood who stepped in at short notice as the scheduled speaker was unable to attend. Tina is a qualified naturopath, and gave a sparkling presentation on ‘Naturopathy - Signs and Symptoms of Good Health.’   Her talk began with the critical role played by the digestive system in maintaining a healthy body. This theme developed into the importance of regular eating patterns and good nutrition, both of which are essential in alleviating stress and fatigue. Audience participation featured highly and members were invited to examine their fingernails for markings, which can signify the body’s lack of vital minerals such as magnesium and calcium. The interest generated by this fascinating and informative talk was well evidenced during the busy question and answer session at its end.
Refreshments were taken prior to the business part of the meeting. The secretary and treasurer read their reports, highlighting the many and varied events of the past year and giving detailed, up-to-date information of the WI’s finances.
In her report, the president thanked the secretary, treasurer and all the members of the committee for their hard work in organising the events which keep the WI’s wheels turning, She went on to say that due to the number of members and those who regularly attend meetings, more committee members are needed, Lorraine Cox volunteered and was welcomed to the committee.
Bath was chosen for the outing for Christmas shopping later in the year.
If you suddenly see any of the members of Abbotts Ann WI running up and down the village streets, taking up cycling or any other form of hearty exercise then you will know who is now taking a daily dose of bee pollen.  Fred ‘The Wiltshire Beekeeper’ told the WI recently that not only does he take it every day, but so does the British Cycling Team and look at how well they did at London 2012. Apparently, one of its many benefits is to repair muscle damage.  Fred likes to do things the traditional way with no fancy sprays or insecticides for him. He leaves enough honey for his bees to cover winter, and does not feed them sugar substitutes. To keep his bees free of the Varroa mite he merely sprays them with a sugar solution. Beekeeping started as a hobby when he retired 15 years ago, but it has got out of hand as he now has hundreds of hives located all over Salisbury Plain and it has become a commercial enterprise — but he hates honey!
The members of the WI were swarming round him at the end of the evening to purchase not only this wonderful bee pollen, but also honey and hand cream amongst other products. 
Some of the members went to the cinema to see ‘The Book Thief’, walked around the outskirts of Andover, supped at the Black Swan, lunched at Longstock Nurseries and met for coffee.
The April meeting of Upper Clatford WI was pleased to welcome Joyce Jones who gave an interesting talk on ‘The life of a Wardrobe Mistress’.  She brought along a good selection of her costumes, most of which she had designed and made herself.Two members were cajoled into being models for some of the costumes and both were dressed up several times and looked wonderful. Over the years she had made clothes for all types of shows, musicals, pantomimes and plays and had lots of clever tricks for altering costumes to suit the period of the performance she was working on.
The WI’s next meeting will be their annual meeting plus a storyteller and bring and buy plant stall.
The spring group meeting of the Anton / Danebury Group was held at the end of March. There are plenty of activities for the members of the 15 WIs which make up the group to take part in.
There is the walk in aid of Associated Country Women of the World at the end of April, the group round of the Hampshire County Federation of Women’s Institute’s (HCFWI) quiz at the end of May and a coach trip to Loseley Park Garden Show and House. Later in the summer there will be the group rounds of the annual skittles tournament.
Unfortunately the advertised speakers were unable to be present, but retired WI adviser, Eryl Thompsett, very ably took their place at only a few hours notice and entertained her audience with her own life story, told with the aid of her very considerable collection of hats, from her school beret to some wonderful hats she had worn to various events, such as family weddings and representing HCFWI, while county chairman. She showed the hat she had worn when her husband was presented with his MBE, which was awarded for his work to get the Millennium Hall at Littleton built on time and to budget. Her audience was fascinated by the collection of some really lovely hats, most of which had ‘history’.  Eryl’s talk was made more special to her audience most of whom had known her for years, both as HCFWI county chairman and the WI adviser responsible for the amalgamation of the Anton and Danebury Groups to make the Anton / Danebury Group.
In April, members of Andover Afternoon WI laughed along with the Rev John Beadle as he told them the story of how a boy from East Yorkshire had joined the RAF to see the world and then spent years as a mechanic servicing aeroplanes in England!
Rev Beadle left the RAF to train for the Methodist ministry. During his ministry he felt called to be a chaplain with the RAF. When his station closed he was offered the job as a naval chaplain. He liked planes, trains and automobiles but the only time he went on a boat was crossing the Humber! This time Rev Beadle got to tour the world on board many ships, spending time on an exchange visit to the USA — but that’s another story.
Members enjoyed the spring coffee morning hosted by a member in her home in April. In addition to nibbling homemade biscuits and hot cross buns, they could buy baked goods and Easter decorations made by other members. This was the most successful coffee morning yet: not only did it raise a wonderful amount, but everyone had a lovely morning chatting and playing games such as ‘Happy Hoppy Harry’s Treasure Hunt’ and ‘Guess the Length of the Cardboard Spiral’.
The WI is looking forward to Gina Ireland’s talk on being a prison officer at HMP Winchester in June and to the summer outing to Tewkesbury in May.  Visitors are always welcome — come and meet the WI at 2.00pm on the first Wednesday of the month at St Mary’s Church Centre, Andover.
An old friend of Andover Evening WI, Greg Gregory, gave a very interesting and enjoyable slide show called ‘Hampshire Churches’. There are some wonderful things to see in the old Hampshire village churches. Kingsclere has a weather-vane with an interesting addition.  Hundreds of years ago a member of royalty stayed at the local hostelry and was bitten by bed bugs. He declared that the church weather-vane should have a bed bug placed on it as a warning to other travellers, and it is still there. Abbotts Ann had the ‘Virgin’s Rings’ hanging from the roof but these appear not to have been added to recently. At Hurstbourne Tarrant there is a very large flat gravestone. The gentleman who died had specified that he wished the local boys and girls should be able to skip and play marbles on it.  What a nice thought. 
Members are looking forward to several things in the next few months: the group rounds of HCFWI skittles and the quiz.  The WI’s lunch club will be meeting at the Plough, Grateley later this month, and a bluebell walk is also arranged — weather permitting!
Knitted items, teddies, jumpers and blankets will be collected in May for dispatch to a charity in Africa.
‘High Street SOS’. In response to the vote at the 2013 National Federation of Women’s Institute’s annual meeting for WI members to support their local High Streets, The Wallops WI wrote to Test Valley Borough Council to find out about what the council and its members could do to help Andover.
Economic Development Officer, David Gleave, met with member of the WI and outlined measures the council had already put in place and suggestions for local WIs and individual members to adopt. Andover could be described as a ‘Cinderella’ town with four powerful neighbouring centres attracting considerable business interest and retail shopping, limiting the approaches to maximise the appeal of Andover. David pointed out that the council does not set business rates and has very little influence over the rental or uses of individual town centre business.  However in late 2012, recognising the difficult but improving economic climate and with regeneration in mind the council set up five working groups to look at parking and signage, planning, environmental improvements, events and town centre management.  As a result new ‘dash and go’ parking spaces close to the town centre are being provided and more discounted car parking spaces for shop employees.
A number of markets were held throughout 2013 alongside the Hampshire Farmers Markets to encourage interest in a wider range of experiences with more planned for 2014. A new heritage trail brochure will highlight the fascinating history of Andover and increase footfall around the town. The recent refurbishment of a key Georgian building as a hotel / pub / restaurant gives a much-needed lift to the appearance of the town centre and its appeal to tourists.  A key difficulty for small businesses has been high start-up costs so the council is encouraging landlords to support ‘pop up’ shops operating on a short term lease rather than have empty premises.  It has set up an Andover Skills Training fund giving free training for local residents working in local businesses and additional grants are available for new independent retailers.
Proposed new home building will bring more residents into the town centre and in conjunction with Hampshire County Council and Andover Town Council a town centre manager is to be appointed to co-ordinate new business ventures.  Redevelopment of the business parks is planned to encourage new businesses to the town.  In conclusion the future is looking brighter and everyone can all help those burgeoning new and established businesses survive and flourish by continuing to visit and spend money locally. The message is ‘use it or lose it’ – everyone is part of the problem and must engage to be part of the solution.