A Special VE Day Memory from our Land Girl

I decided to ask one of our members for her memories of VE Day, expecting possibly to get something about being part of the crowd celebrating in London. Instead I got a truly special memory of that day and the background to it.


Stella (on the left) and her sister

Stella Elms (nee Hobden) was born in Burwash East Sussex near Rudyard Kipling’s Batemans in 1927.

When Stella was 18 months the family moved to Weybridge and then on to Addlestone when she was 3 years old.

It was there that she met one Peter Elms when she was 14 and a half. He was chairman of the local youth club and she was secretary by virtue of her being at secretarial college.


With the onset of World War 2 Peter was serving in the Army and Stella had joined the Women’s Land Army.

At the beginning of 1945 the Army had started to give leave to troops serving in Europe. Peter’s regiment drew lots, his name was one of the first out of the hat, and thereby one of the first to get leave.

A couple of days before VE Day Stella travelled to a London station with Peter’s father to meet a troop train bringing Peter home. As a Land Girl Stella was on holiday, not leave, as they were officially classed as civilians. It was not until 2008 that the Women’s Land Army was formally recognised.

Peter had proposed on a previous leave but there had been no opportunity to buy a ring.

Stella is unlikely to forget any anniversary of VE Day as that was the day they bought THE RING and became officially engaged.

A jeweller in the village had let them know that they had recently acquired an engagement ring and it was bought at a cost of £13.

As Churchill’s speech was at 3pm it was too late to organise a double celebration that day. The newly engaged couple spent the evening walking hand in hand and arm in arm around the village. All the houses had their curtains wide open and their lights on.

Parties took place during the following days with long hoarded treasures appearing from store cupboards. Stella wonders what today’s kids would think of jellies, tinned salmon and sardine sandwiches.

Stella and Peter Wedding

The couple were married on 18th May 1946 with a traditional wedding cake thanks to family and friends donating ingredients and Peter’s father being friends with a local baker.

They set up home together in 1947 when both left the service of their respective armies.

Peter passed away on 12th February 2006, three months before their Diamond Anniversary.

In Stella’s words ” a more caring, hard working husband, father and friend would be hard to find. Was never sorry I said yes”.

My thanks to Stella’s family for “secretly” supplying the photos and very special thanks to Stella for sharing her special memory with me and allowing me to write this. I hope I’ve done it justice, she will soon let me know if I haven’t.

With much love and respect for a very special member of Bognor Regis WI.

Sue Harris

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

Remembrance Service


On 10 November a small group of WI members took part in the Remembrance Service at the war memorial in Bognor Regis. As our new President I was honoured to step forward and lay the wreath together with Katie who organised our presence at the service and our wreath. A very proud moment for us both.

poppies 1

Sue Harris


News from our Craft Group

10 of our members learnt a new technique using polymer clay and extruders to make jewellery, key fobs, coasters, buttons and hair grips, in the style of Gustav Klimt.
Various coloured clay sticks were sliced, put together to make a cone and put through an  extruder tool, emerging as long strips of patterned clay.   The strips were stacked, cut, and re-stacked twice.  The stack was cut into slices, massaged together and cut into the shapes required.   The combination of colours and tiny patterns melted our creative hearts, and we all fell in love with the technique.
I had used my WI bursary money to learn the craft and pass on the skill to others – money well spent I would say.  Thank you Bognor Regis WI.
Jan Marsden

Pimms & Paddle

After the hottest day of the year, it was a bit of a disappointment and worry when the weather changed the next day and rain was forecast. As we walked down the prom to Gina’s house the sea didn’t look too inviting, BUT we are WI and, in true WI fashion, we strode out of Gina’s back garden in our costumes and on to the beach. 10 members and 2 guests braved the waves and seaweed and swam. Other members watched!! Once you were in, it was lovely and we even had our first attempt at synchronised swimming. Sadly no photos of that….I blame the members watching.

pimms and paddle 10

After the swim (only wimps paddle) it was back to Gina’s garden for Pimms, and more Pimms. A great time was had by all and, thanks to the rain gods who kept the rain at bay. Biggest thanks to Gina for her hospitality….we will be back next year for Fizz and Float.

For all the photos, click here.

Words:  Sue Harris

Photos: Georgette Budhram (guest) Karen McCreedy and Debbie Brookes


Twiddle Muff and Twiddle Mat Charity Day

14 of our WI members built up a collection of 8 knitted twiddle muffs, 2 knitted twiddle mats, 7 fabric twiddle mats and 2 twiddle marble mats on Monday 29th July 2019 for one of our 2019 WI charities – Sage House.   There are more in the pipe line, as some needed a bit more twiddling and fiddling before being ready to add to the pile!

Thank you WI members for helping make the Charity Sew/Knit-In Day fun.   We all laughed, exchanged ideas and skills, and shared tools and fabrics – and of course we had tea and cake.

We also collected £24.40 for Sage House.

To see all the photos click here.
Words and photos: Jan Marsden
 (…. and lots of thanks to Jan for organising!)

July Meeting

Picture 1

Dinah welcomed Members and (retired) Fire Officer Ken Lloyd on a beautiful Summer’s evening. Ken retold the events of over 30 years ago when Uppark House caught fire, and  fire crews from across Hampshire, West Sussex and Surrey bravely tackled the difficult blaze.  They saved many of the House’s paintings, rugs, tapestries, antiques, chandeliers, china and curtains, despite the difficulty they had in finding a substantial and reliable water supply.

Then Jan Marsden gave us all an account of the recent polymer clay workshop she attended whilst on holiday in the Isles of Scilly, before we all enjoyed refreshments, had the opportunity to buy NFWI raffle tickets, perused the variety of sign-up sheets and competition entries, and enjoyed some social time.

In Gina’s absence, Debbie announced the results of the “what would you save in a fire” competition (judged by Ken Lloyd):

1st– Chris Hunter (box of memories)

2nd– Karen McCreedy (Baby and teddy picture)

3rd– Gina Fitch-Roy – (Stiletto shoes)

Additional entrants who all receive a point: Annie Smith, Joyce Aird and Jack Owen.

This is an extract from Katie’s record of the meeting.

To download the full record click on Record of July 19 meeting


Anyone for Croquet!

Over the years I have seen people playing croquet and I have always thought it looked easy and a bit boring.  How wrong I was!

Last week I was part of a group trying it out at Bognor Regis Croquet Club, aided by two kind and patient ladies from Westergate WI.

My initial impression was how heavy the balls were, and how difficult to hit with the mallet over a reasonable distance and in the right direction.   Then when we finally got near to the hoop, getting the ball through in the right direction was not easy!

However, over two games we all definitely improved and I absolutely loved the strategy involved.  We played in pairs and had to be very conscious of where the balls were in relation to the hoop, if necessary knocking an opponent’s ball out of the way, for the sake of our partner – very satisfying!

After our games we had a lovely cuppa in the clubhouse with delicious homemade cake.  A great afternoon and one most of us would like to repeat.  Many thanks to Barbara for organising and supplying such a lovely tea.

For all the photos, click here.

Words:  Kate Claisse

Photos:  Kate and Barbara


Visit to Tuppenny Barn

On May 29th a group of us visited this organic smallholding in Southbourne.   Tuppenny Barn provides learning experiences for children and adults to promote organic growing, healthy cooking and eating, and sustainable horticultural practices.

First we had a talk about the history of Tuppenny Barn, then a tour around the grounds, a cream tea, and a visit to the shop.  It was a very interesting and pleasant afternoon.

Many thanks to Dinah for arranging this.

click here to find out more about Tuppenny Barn

and click here for more photos of our visit.

photos & words: Katie and  Kate