July Meeting – on a Desert Island

image1With inflatable palm trees, parrots and seagull the ambiance of a desert island was set in the hall for the July meeting of Bognor Regis WI, much helped by the current tropical weather.

President Dinah welcomed members (including three new members) to the meeting and recapped on the events of last month including the Arundel history walk, the Chichester Walls Walk, the walking netball taster session, Lynn’s summer lunch and the Women Go Wild camp – the last of which was enthusiastically enjoyed and endorsed by the participants.


Dinah then handed over to ‘Kirsty Young’ (our very own Sue Harris dressed as a castaway) who entered the hall to the strains of the theme tune of Desert Island Discs. ‘Sleepy Lagoon’ was written by Eric Coates as he looked over the bay to Bognor from his home in East Selsey.  The first castaway was Gill Lowden who instead of choosing an item to take to the island, described the shipwreck adventures of one of her ancestors, Uncle Charlie. From his letters home, Gill described the wrecking in 1871 of his ship, the HMS Magaera, a troop transport ship on passage to Sydney. All the crew survived but then had a sojourn of some three months on St-Paul Island, the top of an active volcano, where they survived on a diet of fish, unsweetened cocoa and rainwater until they were rescued. The picture below shows the HMS Magaera on St-Paul Island.

HMS Magaera

The second castaway was Debbie who chose to take a Synth – a highly developed robotic servant – as her luxury item. She considered that the Synth would be able to take on all the practical tasks, help keep her safe, provide good conversation and, possibly, some more interesting diversions!

Gina was next and she chose All I Want’ by Joni Mitchell for her desert island disc.  She described how evocative the music was as it brought back memories of the late sixties/early seventies and the optimism of the time.

Karen was the next castaway and she, rather sensibly, chose an axe as her luxury item because of its versatility; she could use it for chopping, killing, digging, as a plough share and even as a cooking implement. Roy Plomley may have turned in his grave as he insisted that luxury items were to have no practical use but, as Sue explained at the beginning – ‘her island and her rules!’

Stella was next and she wanted to take her grandfather clock as her luxury item.  The clock was made in 1825 in Mayfield, East Sussex and, to the best of Stella’s knowledge, had been in her family since that date and remained as a constant presence in her childhood. In 1948 however, her parents wanted to emigrate to South Africa and needed to sell the clock. Newly married Stella, not wishing to see it go out of the family, was able (with the help of her in-laws) to raise the money to buy it and since then, it has moved with Stella wherever she went and, newly restored, is still with her now.

Finally, Lesley Hiley wanted to be cast away on a Dorset Island and talked about her chosen book while dressed for the Dorset weather – sunhat and rain coat. Her book was The Famous Five, the first of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books and Lesley described both the story, peppered with boats, shipwrecks and treasure and the joy of reading it as a child.  In addition, Lesley chose a luxury too – lashingsof ginger beer! It was an excellent end to an enjoyable interlude.

After refreshments when members had the chance to sign up for a wide range of activities from walking to swimming, from the Summer Social to the autumn Quiz, the notices were given.

The member forum included the exciting news that the first volume of Karen McCreedy’s trilogy ‘Unreachable Skies’ will be published in August by MirrorWorld Publishing and members were given a sneak preview of the book cover. The author will be available for book signings!


Besides a book and DVD sale and a Produce table, there were two competitions this month: Painted Pebble was won by Barbara, with Sarah and Annie Smith sharing second place. There was a tie for first place for the Dream Desert Island Companion between Annie (who wanted to take Ray Mears) and Jack who opted for her teddy.

President Dinah brought the meeting to a close, sharing a wonderful inspirational quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson on the meaning of success and wishing all members a safe journey home and a wonderful August until meetings recommence in September.

Words: Gina Fitch-Roy

Photos: Katie Lyne

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