Secretary’s report 2016


Bognor Regis WI Secretary’s Report October 2016

Good evening Ladies.

Well this is the end of another BRWI year, and what a strange year it has been. After last year’s full on Centennial year, with my naive hat on, I thought ihis year would be a quiet, subdued affair.  Obviously it has been anything but. It has been a year of welcomes, goodbyes and near tragedy for us, as well as the usual success and fun.

20151016_211926_resizedOur year started in late October with our first quiz night, which received a great thumbs up from all who attended as well as being a great fundraising event.


img_0523At our November meeting our booked speakers unfortunately had to cancel at short notice, but did that cause problems? Not a bit. Our own members, Kate Claisse, Gina Fitch-Roy and Sheila Farmer came to the rescue, Kate and Gina with their experiences as Samaritans;

and Sheila with her travels in Mongolia accompanied by her exquisite photography of the area. November was also when BRWI’s first baby arrived as Helen Ablett gave birth to baby Sybil, born in our centennial year and, hopefully, a budding WI member in the future.

December’s Meeting was party time, which saw us, plus invited guesrs from neighbouring WI’s, leaming the skill of book art, proudly taking home our Christmas tree table centre decorations. We supped mulled wine – non-alcoholic, and enjoyed a mixture of seasonal foods and spent time socialising. We donated a hamper of children’s toys and gifts to My Sister’s House to help them in their drop-in and with their fundraising.

Thus the WI Centemial Year ended.

femme-fataleThe New Year arrived with a presentation about the Femmes Fatale in the genre Film Noir, from Ellen Cheshire, which was very informative and a visually interesting presentation even though she had a battle with sound problems. The one thing I found amusing was the ‘Bad Girls’ as portrayed in early films always ended up coming to a sticky end, whereas these days they are more likely to get away with it and grab the leading man. This is obviously a sign of today’s times.
2015compcupShelia Farmer was awarded the 2015 Competition Cup and our two bursaries were won by Katie Lyne and Margaret Pearce, and we look forward to hearing later in the year how they spent their £100 bursary.


February had us stepping back in time with Trevor Sapey of 20160209_205233_resizedthe Mary Rose Trust. He stands out as one ofthe most entertaining speakers we have had this year. In full costume and with authentic artefacts, he was a great success. He wasn’t even phased when we suffered a power cut, which resulted in the funniest sight of a large number of members who immediately whipped out their phones to spot light him. Our ever resourceful ladies as usual. Hopefully, as a group it would be good to visit the new re-vamped Mary Rose museum next year, as was discussed.

We were also able to show our support for local women by holding a collection of sanitary products for Bognor Regis Foodbank.

And it was fruit versus Star Trek tea20160225_214948_resizedms at our bowling evening at Chichester Gate where every strike was rewarded with a chocolate. Melon (Helen) was the highest scorer of the night with 117.

06_gos_sol_02In March we threw open the floor to our members with ‘Over to You’, this time as planned presentations. Our first speaker Kate Claisse gave us a very amusing talk called ‘Tales from Iceland’ with an insight from her personal memories of being a fish filleter in 1963, including photos and even the letters written home to her mother, on some very interesting stationary. I doubt you could do that on today’s toilet paper. As demonstrated by my glamerous assistant here. (Ps I had my instructions I had to call her that alter her last experience as an assistant.)

img_0517Christine Harris then gave us a demonstration on how to make economical, attractive and quick bouquets using gift bags, with beautiful results.

chrishunterOur third speaker was a ‘new girl’ to our group, Chris Hunter, who talked about her Year of Leaming in 2015 when she was detemined to leam a new activity or skill every month. I would like to know where she got the energy.

Our last speaker for the evening was Jenny Jones who told us how she and her husband became involved with the Bognor Birdimg_0519man and
Clown events and just how entailed and complicated a journey it proved to be. A health and safety nightmare I should think.

Lastly Angela Fisher gave us an update on Organ Donation and thanked four BRWI ladies for volunteering to go into SRH to promote this. She then introduced two ladies, Sue, the donor and Marie the recipient of her kidney. They gave a great insight into the subject first hand.

An activity some of us took part in on the 4th March, was a Clean for the Queen, as part of the 90th  birthday celebrations for Her Majesty. Several of us met by the pier, where we donned our hi-vis vests, grabbed our litter pickers and Lesley gave us a lengthy health and safety talk, instructing us not to get swept away to sea, impaled on needles or bleed to death picking up broken beer bottles. So glad for the advice, how on earth did we all manage to survive this long without the help of H & S. We then set sail along the promenade and beach picking up rubbish, tons of it. Including an iron railing, an assortment of socks and several pairs of knickers, one pair shown by my assistant again, sorry glamorous assistant (anyone recognise these please see me afterwards). Sadly no money came to light. All agreed it was an enjoyable way to spend a morning as well as  a good workout.


20160330_120149_resized_1March was also the month we said goodbye to Sally De Vries, a much loved founder member, who had passed away a few days previously. Many of us attended her funeral and afterwards we heard some amusing, interesting stories from her old pupils.  Apparently this diminutive lady had been an absolute demon on the hockey field. Thanks to a collection from our members, we bought her flowers and donated to two local charities close to her heart. I know she is missed by many.

In April Lesley had to report that another former member, Catherine Marter had also sadly passed away.

Our speaker that evening was Eleanor Stewart-Richardson who entertained us with tales of her days asnun a nun in the early 1960s. she is the most un-nun like person you are ever likely to meet. Following her talk to us she has become extremely popular in this area, securing many bookings, but we had her first!  Also be sure to look out for the television documentary she is featuring in soon called ‘The Real Call the Midwives’.
May was, and remains a blur, for Lesley and myself. Our near tragedy, when our lovely Sue had a horribly close encounter with the grim reaper. As the May meeting was going on, Sue was in theatre undergoing life-saving surgery and Lesley and I disappeared repeatedly throughout the meeting to talk to her family. Thank you to the rest of the commlttee for keeping the meeting going. May was our Resolutions Meeting and Sue McNaughton, our link representative, was present and took our votes to the Annual Meeting in June.

group-stageThat weekend we had our fashion show. I have to admit the last thing Lesley and I wanted to do, as Sue was still to the forefront of our minds, was to run an event. As it tumed out it was the best thing that could have happened as it was one of the funniest events of the year. For the participants and I hope the audience. Thank you again to our other amazing models and helpers.  For more photos please click here.

So I must tell you this little tale. There was a good amount of sliced cake remaining and Lesley suggested, as I was on Sue watch that night, that I take them into the hospital for the staff.  Not wanting to carry it all the way to SRH and then be told I couldn’t take it into the ITU, due to infection control etc, I decided to phone first. The conversation went as thus …”Hello, my name is Annie Smith and I am coming tonight to see Sue Harris, we are members of BRWI and we have had an event, and there is lots of KA…”  That is as far as I got before the nurse the other end of the phone said, “ooohhh yes please”. so that evening I buzzed to go into the unit and said, “Hello Annie Smith to see……..”  that is as much as I got out again before being told, “Come in, come in”. In I walked, to find about 20 staff, (I think they must have bussed them in as there were so many), all standing up, with beaming smiles on their faces and the box of cakes just evaporated. So ladies, never doubt the power behind the

words WI and Cake, or in my case, WI and KA.

meadowLate May and early June saw members continue work on our Wildflower Meadow in Hotham Park. We witnessed our flowers working their magic as bees buzzed around us.

The June meeting was our ‘Quiz about Town’, it was a blustery evening but many members took up the challenge, a few stayed in the hall answering questions set by Karen. What the rest of Bognor made of all these groups of women aimlessly trundling around the seafront isn’t known, but at least no one was arrested for loitering or worse.


At the June meeting Lesley told us about her invitation to a Champagne Reception at the Palace of Westminster, as one of only 4 WI representatives. 20160419_123927_resized_1This event was organised by Keep Britain Tidy as a thank you to individuals and groups who organised a ‘Clean for the Queen’.

June also saw thousands of WI members attending the Annual Federation Meeting in Brighton, several of our ladies attended, with Jenny Jones acting as our delegate. All seemed to enjoy the day.

yvonne-price-resizedThe speaker for July was Yvonne Price who, as always, kept our attention, with a talk called ‘Under the Microscope’ about her work in the Pathology Lab, complete with visuals. Lesley announced that Sheila Farmer had won a special commendation at the South of England Show in the painting category with her very good watercolour, the first time she has entered, so well done to Sheila.


img_0407The last day of July was our summer social, ‘Party like it’s 1945’. Although, sadly, fewer of our members were able to attend than anticipated, I think all who did will agree it was good fun. Many of us also dressed in vintage fashions, we sang Jerusalem under the gaze of King George VI and refreshed ourselves on sherry, homemade lemonade and foods made to authentic 1940’s recipes.  After lunch we sang and danced the hokey cokey, and ran the egg and spoon race.   winnerThe award for best costume went to Joan Hadaway (!) who looked so authentic it’s a wonder someone didn’t ask her to fetch them a bedpan. Afterwards we listened to music from the era, after I managed to work out how to use the machine, and then we sang along with Vera Lynn.

For more photos please click here.

August is traditionally our holiday month although you really wouldn’t have thought it. We held a coffee moming in Dinah Barrand’s garden to raise money for the Denman College Appeal. 20160817_105101_resizedLesley and Jeanette attended the Felpham Evening WI social to take collection of the bras for the Bra Bank. 20160804_172752_resizedThe Bra Bank continues to be strongly supported, pun intended. Four groups of our ladies took paxt in the WSF Quiz night and walked away with first, two joint thirds and a fourth place, didn’t we do well? Our one disappointment was having to cancel our friends and family picnic in Hotham Park due to the Great British weather.

sherlock2Our September meeting had us welcoming Sue back to door duty after her long absence. Our speaker proved a great success as the Famous Mr Sherlock Holmes (AKA Tony Harris) was in attendance, regaling us with gory tales of Victorian murder most foul and attempting to solve the mystery of Jack the Ripper. I had the honour of helping him in the guise of Dr Watson while our president became his assistant, um seamstress, who nearly came to a very unsavoury end. Just don’t give up the day job Lesley. (By the way anyone not at last month’s meeting who needs clarification about the seamstress remark please see me later).

img_0525Three of our ladies appeared in the local paper, namely, Kate Claisse, Lesley Hiley and Jane Sedgewick, as they continue to do sterling work at St Richards, promoting Organ Donation.

Well done again ladies.

promwalk5As a group BRWI supporred WI Sports Week with a walk along the prom, and finding out just how unfit they were, attempting to use the free fitness points along the prom.  For more photos please click here.

And so to tonight’s meeting, and the end of another busy year. Firstly thank you to Karen for helping to put together the visual part of this report, it is all greek to me, without her you would have just had to look at me or at the wall, (probably preferable).

I know as always there are countless events, visits and activities surrounding the amazing number and variety of sub-groups we have, so forgive me for not having time to mention everything. But I would like to thank on behalf of the committee and all the membership, the members who organise the sub-groups, you are appreciated by all of us – please stand up (round ofapplause).

We all look forward to another year, and anticipate it to be as much fun and as interesting, educational and informative as this year. And I hope that we have no more sad events or any near tragedies to report next year, although if any you fancy being the next lady to have a WI baby please feel free.

Thank you Ladies.