BRWI March Member’s Meeting

Our March meeting saw members wearing blue and yellow in support of Ukraine and a Ukrainian flag on display. Members made a donation for blue and yellow ribbons to support our Craft Queen Sarah G’s fundraising for Ukraine.

With our speaker unable to join us due to a bereavement, our March meeting was the opportunity to spend time updating members on plans for the coming months, a longer refreshment time and then time to give old and new members the opportunity to get to know something about each other with a Get to Know You session.

Members gave generously to our Ice Cream themed raffle (thank you Sarah G for organising) and donated generously to a collection for Bognor Regis Foodbank.

Following on from February’s President’s Awards, the Seaside Hospitality award was presented to Gina Fitch-Roy who, in true BAFTA style, was unable to make the February meeting.

Many thanks to Dinah for creating the excellent illustrations on all our awards!

Sue Harris

BRWI February Member’s Meeting

At our February meeting we welcomed Peter Hadyn Jones an ambassador for Sage House Dementia Hub for a Dementia Friends Awareness session.

Sage House is one of our 2 local charities we support. Members were invited to bring items for a sales table and all proceeds for the sales table were donated to Sage House. The donation bucket revealed an amazing total of £107.15 – well done to all who donated.

The evening ended with the President’s Awards, long overdue as a result of the pandemic.

The Walk This Way Award – Jan Marsden Editor Extraordinaire – Kathryn Good

Tenacity Award – Ann McLean Saving The Day Award – Jen Tompkins

Sue Harris

Life Drawing Activity with a difference!

Apologies for a belated post.  However, I’m sure you will think its been worth the wait ….

Mid-February we braved a wet and windy night, with gusts of lashing rain, to attend the monthly Members Meeting.  Thankfully the hall was warm and welcoming, with the heating turned-up especially high for what was to come.  President Sue opened the meeting, welcoming members (including several of those that are new) and visitors. She then introduced Chris Formaggia, our ‘Life Drawing’ tutor for the evening.

Sue explained that our original life model was now unable to attend* but that, as President, she had devised a cunning contingency plan.  Then, with what was to shortly reveal itself as a bit of dramatic skulduggery, Debbie advised her that our replacement model had just texted to say she had arrived in the carpark, but was having difficulty finding her way into the building in the dark.  Sue invited Chris to begin his tutorial whilst she went to find our model.


After a few minutes the door to the hall opened and there were gasps of amazement as Sue entered dressed in only a dressing-gown. Gasps turned to supportive applause as, with a flourish, Sue discarded her gown to reveal her naked self, “scars and all” (Sue’s words).   Chris then directed Sue through a series of poses, whilst with determined concentration we endeavoured to capture a likeness in charcoal and chalk.

When time was up, Debbie thanked Chris and gave an extra special thanks to Sue for being so courageous. If we weren’t before, we are now totally in awe of our President.  Shaky on adrenaline, Sue somehow managed to steer members’ attention to the sign-up sheets, art-themed raffle, Spring Show flyers, and Sarah’s upcycling display.  She declared it time for refreshments (which for her included a well-earned G&T).

*(Following the meeting Sue sent an email out to all the members confessing that: I spun you at bit of a tale last night. I had, for a while, thought about challenging myself and my boundaries by doing it. Our planned model stood aside to allow me to do that and for that I am grateful.  So, I wasn’t compelled to stand in at the last minute, it was planned.”)

Following the break, Chris was invited to remain with us whilst he did his own life drawing of BRWI – members were relieved to be told they could remain clothed.

Some points of Interest in the second half of the meeting….


The new Upcycling sub-group is to be led by Sarah, who was pleased to report that she already has a number of members signed-up to her inaugural session of: ‘Upcycling a T-Shirt’.  Her brilliant display of up-cycling ideas certainly gave us a taste of things to come.  What a great way to increase BRWI’s green credentials!



Sarah has certainly been busy this month.  In addition to her upcycling display, she had sourced and put together an eye-catching raffle, prizes of which were art-themed to reflect the evening’s activity.  There were certainly plenty of delighted smiles from those lucky enough to win one.

Jack reported on the great progress made by the BRWI Summer Camp planning team.  A wide variety of activities are to be on offer and, to name just a few, include: a walk; crafting; and beer tasting.  We look forward to learning more over the coming months, with formal application forms being available soon.

Lesley reminded us that our Spring Show competition (Bonnets, Bouquets, and Bunnies) is to be held at the March meeting. Along with our Autumn Show competition, these replace the competition cup held in previous years.  There are 5 wide-ranging classes, each with a 1st prize of a £10 voucher.  Sue informed us that she was busy sourcing an independent ‘celebrity’ judge – who can that be?  You’ll have to attend the meeting to find out! (NB as our March meeting has been cancelled, for obvious reasons, the show is postponed to a later date)

Jan kindly provided an overview of the BRWI walking group. She emphasised that walks were usually in the region of 4 miles and not the 9 miles some walkers liked to believe they had endured!  As well as being mindful of distance, Jan makes sure that walks are not hilly nor too muddy, so that they are accessible to most of us.

Still in her dressing gown (could this be a future presidential trend?) Sue thanked members for their kindness that evening and reminded them it was “Small acts of kindness week”. She invited members to go home and be kind to someone they loved and then a neighbour or a random stranger the next day. She then closed the meeting and wished everyone a safe journey home.

Words and Pics:  Debbie Brooks

To view Debbie’s full February Meeting Record click Members Meeting Record Feb20

Vegan Cooking!

President Sue Harris opened the first meeting of 2020 by welcoming members, new members and visitors before asking Debbie to introduce the speaker for the evening, namely Sarah Anderson.  Sarah and her able helpers, Carrie and Gina, then treated us to a:

Vegan Cookery Demonstration and Tasting

And so we were off with ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ as cordon bleu trained chef Sarah explained why her diet has become mainly plant-based. She highlighted the fact that there are an increasing number of vegan food options available from supermarkets, with the UK serving as a world leader in vegan product development.

Along with a useful handout, Sarah went on to address the most asked questions about vegan diets: ‘What do vegans eat?’ and ‘How do vegans get enough protein?’.  For more information, click here – vegan storecupboard.
She also reassured us that all 5 key human tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami) could be addressed when following a vegan diet, in particular umami which could be met by adding ingredients such as marmite or miso to dishes.


While talking us through the above, Sarah and her assistants prepared a Winter Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing to go with a ‘one I made earlier’ Pulled Jackfruit Stew, accompanied with slices of sourdough bread.
Some of the ‘tricks of the trade’ in vegan cookery include the layering of flavours and using seasonal, locally produced vegetables. Assistant Carrie was encouraged to soften the kale by giving it a thorough massage!
Massaging Kale
Now onto the part we had all been waiting for…the tasting!  Wooden forks at the ready we dived into bowls of food, which received a definite ‘thumbs-up’, as did the sample desserts of Chocolate Mousse with Millionaire Bites.  To display the recipes, please click – wi recipes – vegan
In addition to our main event we heard about ….


BRWI 2020 Summer Camp – This inaugural event is to be held from Friday 10th to Sunday 12th July at a scout campsite near Angmering.  The cost is to be in the region of £50 to include: the pitch of a tent; all activities; meals and other refreshments.  For those of us who like our home comforts there are flushing toilets and a hot water shower available, although these are housed in a wagon! A sign-up ‘expression of interest’ sheet is available, with a discussion meeting to be held once initial numbers are known.

NFWI 2020 Resolutions –The committee read out the 5 NFWI 2020 resolutions and invited members to cast their votes during the refreshment break.  Briefing notes for each resolution were made available to members, and a highly sophisticated voting system of buttons and jam jars was set-up.  The results were as follows:

1. A call to increase the potential stem cell donor registration: 12 votes
2. Female Crash Test Dummies: 4 votes
3. End modern slavery: 10 votes
4. Time to talk about death and dying: 10 votes
5. Protect our precious helium: 3 votes

These results will now be fed-back to West Sussex Federation.

Bursary Draw –  there was the eagerly anticipated bursary draw of 2 x £100 to be used for educational purposes. The lucky winners were: Maggie H and Dinah, with Kate and Jean holding reserve positions.

Competition Cup = Sarah Greenway was delighted to present the overall winner of the 2019 competition cup, Chris Hunter, with said cup.

Competition Cup

Congratulations Chris and to the runners-up Jack 2nd place and Annie 3rd place, with a miniscule 1 point between first and second places

Member News – Proud mum Lesley Guppy announced that her aspiring author daughter Abigail, has won a national poetry-writing competition, and is one of 100 young winners whose entries are to be published in book form next month.  Once available, Lesley will bring some copies with her to the members meeting. This is a brilliant achievement and we send our warmest congratulations to Abigail.

For full meeting record, please click here: members meeting minutes jan20 (final)
Words and photos: Debbie Brooks







Our Christmas Celebrations!

TreeTo start the BRWI Christmas Party evening on a festive note, members and guests were offered a cup of mulled wine as they arrived at the beautifully decorated Gordon Hall. President Sue Harris then welcomed members and guests from Bognor Regis WI and Aldwick Revival WI to the meeting before asking Debbie to introduce the entertainment for the evening, namely flautist Frances Benham.


Frances Benham

A rendition of ‘Jerusalem’ helped everyone to warm up their vocal chords, and this was enthusiastically followed by a compendium of carols accompanied by Frances.  There was a hearty ‘Ding Dong’ and ‘Jingle Bells’ and magnificent ‘glorias’ rang out, putting the acoustics of the hall to the test.  There was nothing ‘Silent Night’ about it!  To hear our rendition of ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ click here.

Frances judged our ‘Christmas in 100 words’ competition and the competition results were as follows: Joyce came in at 3rd place; Annie in 2nd; and Debbie took 1st place being persuaded to perform her somewhat controversial poem, which claimed her to be “a right ole misery” with all the “bother and fuss” of the festive season.  (She secretly reassures us that’s she’s not really as grumpy as she makes out!)

Sue brought members attention to the latest copy of West Sussex News where 3 of our members were mentioned in the paragraph re the County Centenary Craft Competition.

To re-energise after all the singing, platters of cheese and biscuits were served, along with mince pies and various other sweet fancies.  Each table was asked to compete in a ‘Festive Film’ themed quiz, and to also guess which committee member had made which of the stunning table decorations adorning each table.


Quizzes were scored and prizes given, and then on to Sue’s secret bottle raffle.  If you had a winning ticket you could choose a bottle bag containing a mystery bottle of… something – no peeking until it was too late!

Then on to the ‘awards’ section, where special service and talents were acknowledged as follows:

  • The ‘Be More Like Stella’ award to Stella, for being an inspirational member and person, always cheerful, supportive and positive.
  • The ’Saving the Day’ award to Joyce, for stepping in at the last minute and taking on the vital role of treasurer.
  • The ‘Eating Out Hero’ award to Lesley, who is stepping-down after masterminding 7 years of monthly meals for the ‘Eating Out’ sub-group.
  • The ‘Craft Queen’ award to Sarah, for her crafting expertise as demonstrated at the summer social, and by her input in leading the Christmas Crafting activities at the November meeting.

Although it was a busy evening full of fun and laughter, there was just time to take advantage of a special photo opportunity, namely:


BRWI Presidents, aka The 5 Wise Women.  From left to right in ascending term order: Janet; Jan; Lesley; Dinah; and our current president Sue.

Each has brought something unique and valuable to the presidency, which has helped BRWI grow into the thriving and vibrant institute it is today.

As Sue closed the meeting with an amusing anecdote from her childhood, Party Bags and the 2020 Programme were distributed.  She gave special thanks to Chris and her team of helpers for organising the evening’s refreshments.

For those who haven’t yet received their copy of the 2020 Programme – have a peek by clicking here!

words & photos: Debbie Brooks

To see Debbie’s full meeting record click on it …. Members Meeting Minutes Dec19




A Crafty Evening!

At our November meeting, our new President Sue Harris asked each member of the new committee (or those who had taken on new responsibilities) to introduce themselves and to explain their roles.  A warm round of applause was given to Debbie, Joyce, Sarah, Kathryn, Chris and Lesley who, together with Sue, make up the ‘Magnificent Seven’ who will be steering the WI for the next year.

Sue also took the opportunity to thank Katie and Jack for their work and support at the Remembrance Parade.


Then on to the main part of the meeting with each member and visitor being given a ‘craft kit’ containing everything needed to make three Christmas decorations. Sarah gave a brief demonstration of how to how to put together a pom pom, paper bauble and snowman and then it was eyes down for some serious crafting. It was a very creative hour – leavened by a lot of conversation and laughter – and with everyone making the decorations with varying levels of expertise!

Picture 1

During the refreshment break, members had the chance to sign up for a number of future activities including walks and the fundraising quiz in January. There was also the opportunity to add to the large number of Christmas food items donated to the Food Bank by members.

Picture 4

This will be the last meeting at which bottle tops will be accepted in aid of Sage House but empty crisp packets will still be collected so that they can go to be recycled into garden furniture.  (Members voted unanimously to continue to support Sage House and the Food Bank as BRWI’s chosen charities.)

After tea and coffee, the business of the meeting took place including a list of the WI Resolutions to be discussed next year and a brief report on the WSFWI AM by Lesley Guppy who attended as Bognor’s delegate. Click here to read Lesley’s report.

There was also the opportunity for Debbie, the lucky winner of last year’s £100 bursary, to update the meeting on the singing lessons on which the money was spent. She described with great enthusiasm how the individual tuition had improved both her ability and confidence when singing in the MusicSmart choir.

Looking ahead to the December Meeting, members were invited to put on festive outfits for a party style meeting with entertainment from a local flautist, mulled wine, Christmas nibbles, a committee led Secret Santa and a hidden bottle raffle. The Christmas competition (which may well be crucial in the awarding of the Competition Cup, for which a £100 bursary prize offered) will be ‘Christmas in a Hundred Words’. Thinking caps on and pens at the ready!

Sue also introduced Gina as the new Climate Change Ambassador who will be working to develop initiatives for members collectively and individually, as well as liaising with other WI Ambassadors in the local and national federations.

To view a full record full record of the meeting, click … Record of November 19 meeting

Words and Photos:  Debbie Brooks


Our Tenth Birthday Meeting!

The outgoing committee  enjoying the lull before the storm!

Forty four members (including one new member, Christine) arrived at the Gordon Centre to find a buzzing festival atmosphere with bunting, tables decorated for competition entries and lots of fizz to drink.

Also welcomed was Janet Perkins the very first President of BRWI and WI Advisor Melanie Careless. While members displayed their entries for the autumn themed competition, three ex-Presidents, Janet, Jan and Lesley together with Melanie commenced the judging of the cakes – judging having to be completed so the members could enjoy them in the refreshment break.  This done, everyone rose to sing Jerusalem and thus the tenth Annual meeting of Bognor Regis WI began.


Following the Treasurers Report the outgoing committee, channelling their inner Spice Girls, introduced themselves and each of their descriptors covered an aspect of BRWI life over the past year. The ‘Spice Girls’ were Supportive, Adventurous (some of us had even braved the wilds of Bournemouth!), Sporty, Crafty, Community Minded, Fun, Green, Cultural and Friendly and these assertions were borne out by the number of activities and subgroups within the WI. Members have enjoyed book groups, eating out, theatre and cinema trips, sci-fi and fantasy fiction, coffee mornings, walking groups, croquet, bowls and walking netball, knit and natter, art and craft and much, much more. They have also looked outwards, supporting Sage House, the Food Bank and ACWW among others.  To see all our activities click here.

img_3468.jpegDinah, our outgoing President, spoke movingly about the welcoming and friendly nature of BRWI and how it embodied the values of friendship and female empowerment which should inform all WI’s. For her full report click here.

This was echoed by Melanie Careless who, having been instrumental in the formation of BRWI ten years ago felt that it was one of the very best in West Sussex – vibrant, welcoming and above all fun.

Following on from this was the announcement of the new committee and the vote for the new President. The meeting was thrilled to know that Sue Harris will be stepping into Dinah’s shoes.

Following this a hard core of WI campers (those that could hold their gin!) stepped out of the hall to prepare for a brief entertainment and during that time. Sue told the meeting that the recent tea party held by Dinah in aid of Sage House had raised in excess of £200. At this the campers returned in their wet weather gear to sing the camping song that had won the talent contest at the last Tents in Kent camp. It is understood however that they were the only entrants although the slick move from rainwear to swimwear at the end would have made Simon Cowell’s (and Bucks Fizz’s) hearts beat faster! (click here to hear  their song!)


Finally, the winners and runners up of each of the competitions was announced with

  • Jack coming first with her autumn cake and Chris H. coming second.
  • June S. came first in the autumn accessory category and Chris H again took the runner up slot.
  • For the floral display in a jam jar, Gill L. took the honours with Sheila F. coming second
  • For the 10th birthday card, Jack again came first, and Sarah G. took second place.
  • Jan A came first in the picture competition and Mandy W. was runner up.

Congratulations to everyone who entered!

The meeting ended with an emotional send-off (and a bottle of Sussex gin) for Dinah who has been a brilliant President for the last three years.  As Sue Harris put it to her she has brought enthusiasm, energy, passion, hard work and a sense of humour to the role and the WI are in her debt.

click here for more photos

words: Katie Lyne

photos: Katie and Kate



Sign Language at our September Meeting

This meeting record is rather late – as our next meeting is on Tuesday!  My only excuse is that Gina wasn’t there so I didn’t get one of her superb and super-fast (next day!) reports.

IMG_3394 2Our speaker at the September meeting was Trish Johnson, who is a British Sign Language (BSL) tutor working in and around Bognor Regis.  She is studying for her BSL LEVEL 6!

Trish gave us some background into sign language, including the fact that it had only been recognised as a language since 2003.  What was a surprise to me was that BSL is truly a language with grammar, syntax etc.  Other countries have their own distinct sign language, quite different in each country – American and British sign language is not the same.

She showed us finger signing and we learnt the alphabet and how to spell out our names and some basic word signs.  She also showed us that the language includes not only finger signing but the use of the face to show emotion.  It was a very interesting talk and we certainly learnt a lot!



As the competition was sign language related, Trish was asked to judge it and the results were …. 1st Annie,  2nd Chris Hunter  3rd Karen

Other news from the evening … Karen McCreedy announced that her latest book (Exile), which is the sequel to Unreachable Skies,  has been launched … and Jack Owen invited us to take part in the weekly Park Run every Saturday at Hotham Park.  She assured us that no one has to run it all, and it will improve our wellbeing!

To see the full record of the meeting – click on Record of September 19 meeting.

words and photos – Kate Claisse



A Memory from 2011

On Tuesday we will be celebrating our 10th birthday!  As part of the celebrations we will be looking at photos taken of our various activities over the last 10 years.  In addition, I thought it would be nice to look back to April 2011 when we had Arun Sounds singing for us, and more to the point us singing with them – we were good!

Here’s a link to the post and video that I added here in 2011….  click here.