November 2019 –  Annual Meeting of Stradbroke W.I.

Gill welcomed twenty seven members and guest Andrea Davies our W.I. Advisor.
We sung Jerusalem and our hostesses Vivienne and Sue were thanked for the lovely birthday posies
and table flowers. Jane then went through the correspondence. The litter pick ladies, eleven in total,
were thanked by Gill for diving into damp ditches and battling with brambles to clear the village
roadsides of rubbish.
Gill then asked if members might prefer to have our meetings in the afternoons, either all year
round or only in the winter months. There was a good show of hands for the idea, making it worth
considering for 2021; next year’s program being already planned.
Gill then presented the Presidents award to two of her retiring committee members, Jane Gemmill
and Carol Darling, thanking them for their support over the last few years.
We then moved on to the Annual Meeting. After the reports was the election of next year’s
committee. Four current members retired, including Gill, our president. Andrea spoke to the floor
and asked for volunteers, with a good response. We now have a committee of six, with Linda Webb
as our new president; congratulations Linda! Also a huge thank you to Gill, who has worked so hard
over the years that she has spent on the committee; we have all thoroughly enjoyed working with
Moyra then gave the vote of thanks to the committee and to Andrea. The raffle was drawn, and Gill
closed the meeting with the reminder that our Christmas dinner was on the 6 th December ��
Carol Darling


October 2019

Gill welcomed all to the meeting including our speakers Bob and Nickie Wilden ably
supported by Jake their sheepdog whose friendly and curious character soon stole the limelight. Our
hostesses Moyra and Carol were thanked for their beautiful birthday posies and table decoration
much ,as always, greatly appreciated by the recipients. There was a brief report on the fashion show
hosted by the Wilby W.I and our models Charmaine and Moyra were thanked for their splendid
efforts but the big cheer was reserved for Jane M who acted as their dresser and who spent an
interesting evening helping to dress our girls while stationed in the gentlemen’s lavatories getting up
close and personal with the porcelain emplacements therein ,oh yes nothing phases the ladies of the
W.I. After the general business Gill introduced our speakers for the evening and we settled in to
learn about the new uses for wool.
Bob started by telling us that he and his wife had historic connections with Stradbroke in
that his great, great grandfather had farmed in this area and Nickies great grandfather had been
Rector in Stradbroke, not a bad start we thought . Farming sheep had been his life and he had
started working with a dog rounding up geese , no mean feat , when he was just a boy. At this time
the sheep were farmed for their meat alone and the wool left after the sheep had been sheared was
more of a waste product with very little value. Bob also demonstrated sheep shearing at the Suffolk
Show having been mentored in this by one Richard Seabrook famous in his time for his shearing skills
and knowledge of sheep. By chance Bob was introduced to a business that was utilising sheep’s wool
for everything bedding related from mattresses to pillows, adding on duvets of various weights and
of course blankets. Wool is very environmentally sound in that it is biodegradable, hypoallergenic
,fire retardant warm in winter cool in summer because of the way it reacts to temperature and
humidity and now back in fashion because it is machine washable and far less likely if handled
correctly to shrink horribly in the wash. Interesting facts about the wool filled mattress included the
notion that hot men and cold women could sleep comfortably on the same mattress as it would
adjust to individual needs and a more restful sleep would ensue, umm !! I believe I heard some
giggling at this point. Bob and Nickie became agents for The Woolroom and now run their own
business from their farm. The samples which were on display were impressive particularly the
blankets which were beautifully woven in bright colours. Several ladies decided that they would pay
a visit to the farm to view more.
Our thanks were expressed by Caroline and as we tucked into our refreshments the samples
were admired and discussed across the room . A good evening was had by all. Our next meeting is
on14th November when a new president and committee will be elected so watch this space folks.

September 2019          

Gill welcomed us all plus our lone male visitor, brave fellow, to the meeting and we started the proceedings with our usual rallying chorus of Jerusalem. Our hostesses Pat and Roz were thanked in advance and hope, we love our refreshments, the birthday posies were presented, and some general business dealt with. Gill also thanked all on behalf of Iris Knowles family for the great effort and attention shown for the catering of the wake after the funeral, it was all greatly appreciated and of course we were happy to help. Business done Gill introduced our speaker for the evening Bob Lloyd.

Bobs title is Town Crier for the Fine City of Norwich and he made a grand entrance in full scarlet uniform and regalia, a splendid tricorn hat with the traditional ostrich feathers, a long stick and a brightly polished bell which he rang, he says softly, um, and crying Oyez  Oyez   Oyez. The entrance was impressive as was the introduction which he spoke in rhyme catching our attention and making us laugh with him. Introductions over Bob gave us a brief personal history of himself and his uniform designed by his own fair hands with buttons bearing the crest of Norwich City Council and explaining that the ostrich feathers signified that he was an educated person who could read and write, as ostrich feathers were traditionally used for making quills to write with. A brief history of his, dare I say, calling told us that it began with the first Spartan Runner who brought messages to the Greeks and developed down through history as the person who spoke and brought news on behalf the king to all his subjects in the days before wifi and newspapers. He would post notices on poles or trees, attend hangings and floggings and had a place at all ceremonial events in his area. Just a note to say the Criers wife usually came with him and carried and rang the bell in preparation for her husbands’ grand moment of proclamation, some could be heard muttering at this point. Bob interspersed his stories with some entertaining rhymes about his work and activities and we enjoyed hearing how he had taken redundancy from the Post Office and moved into his present work which also includes him being an M.C. and Toast Master at weddings, very smart, a driver of limousine wedding cars, school runs and not surprisingly given his penchant for red clothes, he plays Santa Claus at Notcutts each Christmas, a happy man. The talk closed with a poem of farewell and a loyal toast to the Queen. Lovely evening  thanks Bob. Oh yes and our brave male visitor survived with a smile ,good lad.

Next month we have a talk on the benefits of wool so ladies come and join us on October 10th at the community centre 7.30pm. no knitting needles required.       Many thanks, Prue Rush.

August 2019

Our August meeting used to be called our garden meeting when we would visit a members’
garden and have a wonderful salad buffet amongst the flowers and shrubs but sadly our reliably
unreliable weather rained us off so many times that we now routinely hold our meeting in the
Community Centre. As usual the committee put together a splendid buffet with a number of sinfully
calorific desserts all beautifully presented on decorated tables where the members gather in lively
groups anticipating a great evening. Yes I am waxing lyrical but it really is good fun and is lovely to
see the ladies dressed in their summer finery as we beat the weather outside and have summer
inside, well why not?

Before the fun commenced there was a sad moment when we remembered our fellow
member Iris Knowles passed peacefully away in her sleep that morning and tributes were paid as we
held a minutes silence to remember her time with us and in the village. Our condolences go to her
family and friends, she will be missed. Of course we sang Jerusalem for her and gave it some gusto
hoping our voices would carry it far into the night air.

We moved on supping our Pimms and enjoying our meal to the rhythms of tunes from the
60s and many a toe was tapping even the odd arthritic hip was seen in motion with the music of our
youth. There was even a game of Pictionary for the hardy all causing much laughter. The evening
gradually came to a close , the committee were thanked and the committee thanked the washer
uppers for their efforts. Another meeting drew to a close as the ladies departed sated but sober and
in cheerful frame .

Our next meeting will be held on 12 th September when our speaker will be Bob Lloyd a Town
Crier from Norwich , this will be an open meeting so the more the merrier.

Thanks to all Prue Rush.

July 2019

Twenty two members and one guest joined us for our July meeting.
We began the evening by singing Jerusalem.
Thanks to our hostesses, Dorothy and Yvonne who, as well as serving refreshments provided beautiful posies for members with birthdays in July.
Our speaker, Cassy Healey then gave an inspiring talk on African Art Murals. I don’t think that I was the only one who had expected a display of paintings done by African tribesmen, but in fact Cassy had painted most of the 365 murals that she showed us, herself. She began her talk by telling us how she, her husband and two young children visited South Africa in October 2009 and stayed for over eight years. It’s impossible in just a few paragraphs to give more than a brief outline of all this remarkable woman has achieved. When she arrived, she was horrified to see the vast numbers of orphaned children from birth to age five who were looked after by carers. These caregivers are sometimes siblings only a few years older than the orphan, sometimes grandparents or other relations but often the orphans are simply added on to a neighbouring family. These little ones who Cassy met were receiving virtually no stimulation, resulting in very stunted mental and physical development. This whole picture inspired her to “do something”.
Here is a list of some of her achievements:
Cassy took a local company’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) project from just 400 children in 2011, to 26,000 in 2013
She and her team trained over 1,000 caregivers and worked in 300 crèches to improve early childhood development.
In 2013 Cassy started the charity Stimulating Solutions, (website: Here work is done on developing toys and books designed specifically for those living in South Africa’s poorest areas, plus painting educational and stimulating murals on trailers, outside walls, inside hospitals, schools, and on any free space that she finds. She promises that for every mural she receives payment for, she will paint another for free. By 2016 over 150 murals had been completed, the total is now well over 400; and they are big!
She set up the organisation offering holidays where the tourist spends half the time doing the usual tourist things, such as safari, beach etc. and the other half volunteering in one of the schools and crèches run by her charities.
The huge amount of money that she has helped to raise has gone towards expanding the work in South Africa and in other countries around the world such as Madagascar.
I do urge you to look at the Stimulating Solutions website; you will find it inspiring and full of energy.
At the end of the talk, Moyra rose to give the vote of thanks, but declared herself to be speechless; such was the impact of the Cassy’s delivery.
After the refreshments we had a brief update on the Chair based Activity Group and Gill asked for volunteers to help with the “Tidying up Stradbroke” campaign.
The raffle was then drawn and the meeting closed with a reminder that the August meeting will be our annual summer buffet.

June 2019

Gill welcomed the members and a guest to the June meeting  and, following the usual offices, our hostesses for the evening, Caroline and Loreli were thanked and birthday posies were presented Of course we sang Jerusalem ,this time  with a little added zest ,as we had a guest speaker with a musical background to impress. Along with his wife, David Webb ,one half of the Webb twins who became household names as yellow coats in the wonderful comedy Hi de Hi had come to talk to us about his early years and his time in Hi de Hi so obviously we needed to do our best.

The room quickly settled and David took up the microphone to entertain us for the evening. Now at this point I must tell you that I enjoyed the evening so much that I forgot to make notes um, so here we go from memory. David spoke fondly and with great humour about his start in show business and his time as one half of a singing and later acting duo with his twin brother Tony. They served their apprenticeship working their time in clubs and pantomimes and as a popular singing duo, the recordings he played for us were well worth listening to. Eventually they had the chance to join the new show Hi de HI and so their lives changed as they joined a very happy cast and crew to work on a show that they loved. Originally they had hoped to film the series on aButlins site but Butlins did not want to be associated with this crazy gang of holiday camp workers and so they had to move to an old  Warners  site instead  and the rest is history.David told us little anecdotes about the cast supporting these with photos and film clips about the show and how it took them to stage performances and even the Royal Variety Show at the London Palladium. His affection for the show and its cast was full and genuine and 40 years later they still have reunions. It was a lovely evening of reminiscing and laughter so our thanks to David who now works behind the scenes as does his brother Tony.

Moving on to refreshments and chatter and some encouragement to join a new exercise group for the less active among us not keen on sweat and lycra the meeting drew to a close . Our next meeting will be on July 11th when Cassie Healey will talk to us about African Art Murals, all are welcome to join us .                                                                                                             Prue Rush

May 2019

The meeting opened with a welcome to all from Gill followed by a rendition of Jerusalem, always a good start. Gill went through the usual business and thanked our hostesses for the evening, Margot and Joy and to Joan who could not join us on the night but provided the table flowers and birthday posy for Wendy. From here we moved straight to our speaker for the evening Pam Mead who was to talk to us about crystals.

Nobody was quite sure what this would entail but we soon learnt that Pam had worked for what used to be The Standard Telephone Company and was involved with the storing and keeping of crystals .Why?you might ask. It seems that crystals are an integral but small part of most communications and radio systems as each crystal carries its own radio frequency and helps to enable transmissions . The more mature of us particularly the boys will remember their crystal sets which they would have built at home or in school ,great fun in the days before our current technology. These crystals were also to be found in aircraft transmitters, navigational aids and the old fashioned valves that used to run our TVs and radio sets. Some of our members asked about the possible healing powers of crystals but this was not a subject that Pam felt she had specific knowledge of but admitted that she made sure her husband had a crystal in his trouser pocket and he stayed well for 38 years,  good. At this point one of our members informed the meeting that she always wore a most attractive crystal on a chain around her neck to protect her throat and singing voice and this had proved most effective over the years. Who knows.Pam had also brought along some samples of crystal in the raw and as jewellery and ornaments which were greatly admired by all the members. Pam was thanked by Linda on our behalf for a most interesting talk and display , thank you Pam.

Next we moved on to the resolutions which were presented to us as usual by Jennifer with the aid of a couple of quizzes to test our knowledge, or not, on the subjects. The first resolution was .A call against the decline in local bus services and a request that the government and local authorities should give more help in the form of subsidies to help the transport companies to run a viable service After some lively debate for and against the resolution was passed unanimously. The second resolution was entitled ,Don’t fear the smear, which urged W.I. members to be encouraged to attend for their smear check so that cervical cancer could almost be eradicated. This caused some lively discussion some of it about the wording as every female of appropriate age and beyond current restrictions should attend for checks as cancer is not fussy about whom it attacks and at what age, and that more nurses should be trained to perform a comfortable smear test for all women. In the end the vote was,9 in support, 8 against and 4 abstentions, therefore the resolution was carried .Interesting.

There was a little more business ,mostly information, to deal with and refreshments were served as the members carried on with their interesting discussions.  The meeting drew to a close and the ladies went home looking forward to the June meeting when David Webb an actor from the Hi Di Hi will come to talk about his time on the series, should be fun all welcome on the 13th June.

April 2019

The members gathered for their April meeting but we were a smaller than usual gathering as holidays and grandparenting duties took their toll on our numbers. As always we started with a rendition of Jerusalem, pretty good volume all things considered , then Gill proceeded to the business of the day. Our hostesses Jane J and Kamal were thanked for the delicate birthday posies and table decoration and in happy anticipation of refreshments to come.  The main news was about the magnificent success of our Soup and Cake lunch held on the 6th 0f April. Surpassing all expectations, and here I hold my hand up as a concerned partner, but the turnout was impressive the food fabulous and the chatter and laughter of the lunchers as they ate their meal and stayed on for pleasure was just perfect. A huge thank you to all the members who, planned organised, cooked, cleaned and tidied up afterwards, the ladies in the kitchen earning our deep respect as they ploughed through seemingly endless washing up and of course the good people of Stradbroke and beyond who tuned out to support our venture, we would have looked silly without you, a big and sincere thank you to you all .Monies raised came to an impressive £1,100 -10p. all for the Ipswich Hospital Blossom Appeal.

Next we moved on to the silent auction and the ladies were able to inspect the goods on offer put their bids in then settle into a fun quiz organised, as was the auction, by Patricia.  We all enjoyed our refreshments and a chat, occasionally checking our bids to see if we needed to increase them and puzzling our way through the quiz questions.  Answers were supplied and 25.5 out of 26 gave a group of three the winning sheet and a bag of chocolates which quickly did the rounds of all the ladies, all good fun. Patricia then called the names of the various winning bidders and we collected our winnings passing some of them over to Joy for the sale that she has in Laxfied for local good causes. The sum of £55 was raised for W.I. funds and the evening counted a success.

Our next meeting will be on May 9that 7.30 pm when we will discuss our W.I. resolutions and Pam Mead will talk to us about Crystals their meaning and powers, should be very interesting. Please come and try us out you will be most welcome.       Prue .


March 2019

For our open meeting last month, we had an excellent turn out of thirty four members, and welcomed fourteen visitors.

We began the evening with a rendition of Jerusalem.

Thanks to our hostesses, Annie and Jennifer who provided delightful posies for members with March birthdays.

We were then treated to a wonderful talk by Mark Mitchels on the life of Beatrix Potter. He began by reminding us that her books had been enjoyed by children for over 100 years, and that they were as popular today as they ever were, with a copy sold somewhere in the world every fifteen seconds. They have been translated into many languages, the second most popular being Japanese.

Beatrix was brought up in an upper class Victorian household by a very remote mother, a father to whom she was very close, and a much adored governess. Her collection of pets was most likely a substitute for friends. Her father was a keen photographer and so her childhood and later life were well recorded in photographs.

Her governess, Annie Carter, left to get married when Beatrix was nineteen, and her first book, Peter Rabbit began life as an illustrated letter to Annie’s son, who was her godson.

In 1830, Beatrix bought a rabbit who she called Benjamin Bouncer, and used him as a model for a set of Christmas cards which she sold as a set “The Happy Pair”. She was to prove to have a good head for business. 

Her books were published by Frederick Warne and she developed a strong relationship with a director, Norman Warne, but sadly he died before they could be married.

She had spent many childhood holidays in the Lake District and bought Hill Top Farm in Cumbria, finally managing to break away from her parents, and marrying William Heales in 1910.

She became well known for her love and knowledge of farming and when she died, left her estate of fifteen farms to the National Trust, with the instruction that there was to be no hunting on the land. Mark’s talk was truly informative and entertaining, and Caroline gave a very appreciative vote of thanks.

Our next meeting will be a Silent Auction on 11th April

Gill then closed the meeting with a reminder that we will be holding our Soup and Cake Lunch on Saturday 6th April to donate to the Blossom Appeal, which is raising funds for a state-of-the-art breast care facility at the Ipswich hospital. Please support us by buying a ticket, which cost £6 each. Thank you 


February 2019

Valentine’s Day!

It was gratifying to see how many members had abandoned their partners to spend Valentine’s evening with the W.I. Although one lady solved the problem by bringing hers with her.

Lorraine had decorated her welcome table with roses and heart shaped candles; although sadly, even with the Fire Station next door, we were not permitted to light them.

Thanks to our hostesses, Moyra and June, who came with colourful Primulas to give to members with February birthdays.

Our first speaker was Annie Groves, who is the Project Officer for the Active Well-being Group. She spoke about the work that the group is currently carrying out in Stradbroke and Fressingfield. The project, which is council funded, will run for a year before moving on to other villages. The idea is to promote a more healthy lifestyle among people who are identified as needing support. GPs, practise nurses and other clinicians hold one-one assessment meetings with clients, where they chat about lifestyle, diet, alcohol consumption, smoking etc. They also look at BMI and mental wellbeing. From the assessment, advice is given. This can take the form of GP referral to the gym, trial sessions with the local exercise classes, such as Zumba and Pilates and walking groups.

Theaim is  to see around seventy five people in the year. Contacts are made through social meeting places such as the coffee shop, library, churches etc. W.I. was highlighted as a valued organisation in the village for helping to combat loneliness, and for the various clubs such as Kurling and Circle Dancing. Dorothy then spoke about her own personal experience and the benefit she had gained from it.

Julia Nowell from Stradbroke First Responders then gave a presentation on the use of the defibrillator; an appropriate topic for February 14th! Julia has been a first responder for twelve years and is one of four such volunteers in the village. She explained that, when someone collapses and 999 is called, First Responders are contacted, as well as the ambulance service. Being a rural community, ambulance response time can be hours rather than minutes, so, to have equipment and trained people in the community can literally be a life saver. There are eight AEDs (Automated External Defibrillator) in Stradbroke. Two with the First Responders, one each in Spar, the surgery, the swimming pool, outside the fire station, in the High School and in the telephone box in Church Street. Julia gave us a scenario, where we were a group in the community centre at 9pm, when someone collapsed on the floor. In this case, someone should call 999, someone begin CPR and someone collect a defibrillator. Julia pointed out that, although the nearest AED was outside the Fire Station, the pool would still be open, and a trained operator would be there, so that was the best option. She then demonstrated the use of the AED, first cutting or tearing away clothing to expose the chest. The machine, and she had brought a training one, is then switched on and talks one through its use. It was a bit of light relief when the machine, instead of recommending shocking, announced that it had a low battery! Julia also refreshed our memories on CPR, demonstrating on a dummy. Thirty compressions, in time to singing Nellie the Elephant (!) followed by two breaths, and repeat.

Dorothy then gave a vote of thanks. Sausage rolls and heart shaped biscuits were then served by our hostesses; the raffle drawn and the evening closed.

This was such a worthwhile presentation; we urge all groups in the village to take up the offer of a talk from First Responders, as publicised on the Stradbroke Online facebook page.

Our 14thMarch meeting will be an open one, with all welcome to hear Mark Mitchel talk about Beatrix Potter.


January 2019

Hello and Happy New Year to you all.  Christmas came and went leaving a number of our ladies coughing and sneezing ,we wish them all well very soon and look forward to the spring and some warm sunshine to clear the tubes.

December saw our ladies and their partners gather for our Christmas supper and what a lovely sight it was .The committee as usual had worked their magic under the guidance of Gill and transformed the community centre into a fairyland of lights with beautifully decorated tables. All the ladies and guests were dressed in their finery and smiling happily as they quaffed their chosen drinks before settling at their tables to partake of an excellent meal. The entertainment was provided by one Lestyn Edwards a most accomplished piano player ,singer and raconteur who came as his alter ego a ballerina in a tutu , something of an innovation for the W.I. but what fun and judging by the laughter and applause greatly enjoyed. A very happy evening and thanks to all concerned.

January and those who were well enough shivered their way to the meeting for a welcome chat with their friends and to settle in to a presentation by Sheree Queen  who is a qualified aromatherapist. First we went through the routine business and a brief financial talk from Gwyneth, thanks to our hostesses Rose and Jane M, birthday posies or rather pots of primulas were presented to several members ,very pretty, the flowers and the members, then we quickly settled in for our evening talk.

Sheree introduced herself and gave us a brief history of how she had become involved with training as an aromatherapist and I have to say it was a lot more of an intense training than one would expect . The problems of which essential oils could be mixed with which medical conditions and their  treatments, medications e.t.c. and the risk of toxicity to the client if combinations were incorrect or too intense, it appears that essential oils are not something just to play with on a luxury bath night , they have to be appropriate to needs and in correct dilution. This said there are so many applications and uses from face and hand creams to treatment for insomnia ,blocked noses ,yes Vick vapour rub can be included here, and motion sickness, and all of it from natural sources. One of our members was invited up to have a foot massage and this she obviously enjoyed and walked away very light of foot afterwards, nice. It was a lovely evening from a lovely young lady and I saw several of her business cards being popped into handbags . Moira gave the vote of thanks on our behalf and a hearty round of applause from us all.

Refreshments followed and a few notices as the evening drew to a satisfactory close and our members wrapped themselves up to brave the journey home, thank you all. Next month on 14th February we will have a demonstration of first aid from the local First Responders and I urge as many of you as possible and your friends come and listen to what they have to say.

Prue Rush.