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


New Year, New Venue, New Resolutions!


President Dinah Barrand welcomed 44 members (including 6 new members) and 4 visitors to the first meeting of 2019 for BRWI and the first meeting at the new venue, reading a poem which gave a taste of the fabulous meetings, outings, camping trips, lunches, teas and swims for members to look forward to during the year.


Debbie then introduced Tony Harris who, dressed as one of the first class passengers, gave a fascinating talk on the Titanic and its fateful last voyage.  Using evidence gathered from a variety of sources, Tony posited the theory that the Titanic was in fact the Olympic, its sister ship, which had been seriously damaged in a collision while on sea trials. Discovered to be under-insured (like its twin it was deemed to be unsinkable), a plan was hatched to switch the ships and sink the Titanic/Olympic on its maiden voyage which by that time had been heavily over-insured – but no loss of life was anticipated as a ‘rescue’ ship had been commissioned to be close to the Titanic when the accident occurred.  As we now know, the scheme did not go to plan and there were terrible losses – although many members were pleased to hear that the founder of Gordon’s Gin survived!

It was a riveting presentation leaving members having some doubts about their long held views about the Titanic and its fate. Food for thought!



After a vote of thanks from Debbie, Jan and Stella then gave a brief summary of each of the six 2019 resolution suggestions and members were asked to vote for their choice.  

The two charities selected by members for this year were announced – Bognor Food Bank and Tangmere Dementia Hub;  these are organisations which provide a much needed service to the local community and to which members can give practical support.

During refreshments, members had the opportunity to sign up for upcoming activities, enjoy some cake and catch up with friends.


After our Treasurer Joyce had given a brief financial report, Gina then announced the ‘Anything Nautical’ competition winners which had been selected by Tony Harris. 1st was Jack, 2nd was Joyce, with Gina coming 3rd.  

The Competition Cup was presented to Annie Smith, the overall competition winner of 2018 with Karen 2nd and Sarah 3rd. Congratulations to Annie! Gina reminded members that February’s competition is ‘My Happy Song’.

The draw for the £100 bursary then took place with Jan and Debbie taking first and second place, and Chris Hutchins and Flo as first and second reserve.  

Rosemary Coleman was also presented with the Best Idea Award (for the monthly coffee morning) having been absent for the presentations at the December meeting.

Members were briefly reminded of particular events for their diaries – the coffee morning hosted by Sarah on 12th February, the camp in Kent on the weekend of 16-18 August, and the forthcoming beach clean organised by Sussex Wildlife Trust.

Finally President Dinah closed the meeting and wished all members and visitors a safe journey home.

Words: Gina Fitch-Roy

Photos: Kate Claisse and Katie Lyne

To see the full meeting record, please click here


2019 Programme published!

The 2019 Programme has been added to the website and our calendar brought up to date (find both on the Diary Dates page).  

Initially the programme shows the main attraction for each meeting, but only those extras (competition, sales tables etc) that are known now – the programme will be updated as we plan more.  

I hope this page will be useful for those who haven’t got the programme bookmark yet, and for all of us as the year goes on and we want a ‘single place to go’ for a view of planned activities.

Happy New Year!

Kate Claisse

Happy Christmas Bognor Regis WI !!

On a crisp December evening, President Dinah Barrand welcomed members, four guests and five visitors to the final meeting of 2018 – and what a party it was!

Members had ‘dressed to impress’ and, in party mood, all settled down to enjoy Dawn Gracie a well-known vintage entertainer.  Beautifully dressed as ‘Mistress Christmas’ (who wants to be boring Mrs Christmas),

Dawn talked about her career being kicked off in 2011 by being selected as the winner of the Best Dressed award at the Goodwood Revival. A lover of all things 50s and 60s, Dawn has since entertained a wide range of people and was full of wonderfully funny anecdotes about her experiences. Dawn sang a range of numbers – we did join in – and then invited volunteers to join her in having a burlesque experience.

Two members, Lesley and Stella, and Sharon, a guest from Aldwick Revival WI, were provided with boas and then tutored in the art of burlesque. Their performance was stunning and at 92 years young, Stella is seriously considering her new career as a burlesque dancer so if there are any agents out there……

On behalf of members and guests, Debbie gave a warm speech of thanks to Dawn for such a joyous start to the festive season.

Following a break for drinks and a sumptuous spread of party food, the meeting reconvened to play the Secret Santa game and exchange their presents of eco-friendly wrapped books. The game involved quick swaps left and right and, as it was much harder than it sounds, much hilarity ensued and nobody left without a present. 

Following this, President’s Awards were given to those members who had made particular contributions to the life of BRWI so, in no particular order, the following were honoured with (handcrafted by Dinah) their awards:

  • Techie Queen:- Kate Claisse
  • Interesting Cakes Queen:- Manuela Andani
  • Creative Star:- Katie Lyne
  • Not-Acting-Your-Age Star:- Stella Elms
  • Care Bear Award:- Sue Harris

Congratulations and thanks to you all.

Following this Jeanette, one of this year’s bursary winners, gave a talk about how the money was spent – in her case on a residential course on Machine Embroidery at Denman College. She loved the experience and exhorted all members to experience Denman if they could.

Read her complete presentation here …

denman talk by jeanette clark december 2018

Jane Sedgwick also won a bursary this year.  Jane was not at the December meeting but she has sent a report on her visit to Denman …

Bursary by Jane Sedgwick

The results of the Craft a Cracker competition were announced with Joyce taking first place, Barbara taking second, and Sarah and Lesley Guppy sharing third place. It was also the first time that one of the entries (Jack’s) had looked so delicious that it was assumed to be part of the supper and partially eaten!

Finally, it was super to have a visit from BRWI’s first President, Janet, and therefore to have all past and present Presidents in the room. Lovely to see you Janet!

At the end of this joyful and fun filled party, Dinah wished all members and guests a Happy Christmas and safe journey home. 

To see lots more photos click here.

Words by Gina Fitch-Roy

Photos by Kate Claisse

To read Katie’s full record of the meeting click …

december 18 members meeting


Remembrance Day Parade 2018


Eleven members of our WI were honoured to take part in the Remembrance Day Parade on Sunday. Our journey to the parade began over a year ago when Katie suggested that we make a wreath to lay at the war memorial in this special year, commemorating 100 years since the end of WWI.

all ready, three abreast

Katie carried the beautifully crafted wreath, which she had made with the 100 poppies crafted at our September meeting. At the Regis Centre Stella and Dinah joined the parade and Katie passed on the wreath for them to lay at the War Memorial.

Stella and Dinah lay our wreath

The comments below from our members best sum up the day.

It was a privilege and pleasure to be given the honour of laying your beautiful wreath at the War Memorial on Sunday’.

A special and very moving occasion that will be a treasured memory’.

So proud to have been part of today, hope we have started a tradition that will continue in years to come’.

It was an honour to represent women, our own families and the WI at today’s special Remembrance Parade’.

‘I think we did ourselves proud with both our hand made wreath and trying to keep up with the marching!’

I was very proud to walk with friends at such a moving time of reflection. I had wonderful feeling of belonging, I also hope this becomes a tradition. Thank you all, this morning was very special’

Click here to see all our photos of the day.

Words: Dinah Barrand

Photos: Kate Claisse


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

Our February Meeting

President Dinah Barrand welcomed members and three visitors to the February meeting. Laura and Sandra from Stonepillow, one of the chosen charities for 2018, gave an informative and interesting talk about the work of Stonepillow undertaken with the homeless, and suggested a number of ways in which members could make a difference. A large number of board games had already been brought in to the
meeting for residents of Glenlogie and St. Josephs, but Laura also told the meeting about the ‘wish list’ published monthly asking for donations of clothing, food and homewares and a number of money raising initiatives ranging from evenings at
Crabtree and Evelyn to sky-diving and a sleep out. There are lots of ways in which BRWI can get involved!

Dinah then introduced Louise Peskett who gave a fascinating talk on Notorious
Women of Sussex.

D2B1D5CE-730B-4A04-990E-CB075B491DD2First up was Martha Gunn (1726-1815) who, despite being of lowly birth and illiterate, became a famous entrepreneur. Starting as a ‘dipper’ for fashionable women coming to sea bathe in Brighton, Martha went on buy a number of bathing machines and a house of her own. She was said to be a favourite of the Prince of Wales, lived to a ripe old age, has a bus and pub named after her, and is buried opposite Phoebe Hessell who achieved fame by fighting as a foot soldier serving under the Duke of Cumberland. Her 17 year career in the military came to end when her gender was discovered when she was treated for a wound sustained in battle. Twice widowed and having had 10 children who died in infancy, she ended up as a beggar in Brighton. There was however a happy ending; the Prince Regent heard of her story and granted her a pension – not knowing perhaps that she would live to the ripe old age of 108!

The stories of two doctors – when to study medicine as a woman was difficult,
expensive, and prone to abuse and disparagement – came next; Helen Boyle (1869- 1957) and Louisa Martindale (1872-1966). Helen was one of the first female GPs in Brighton, developed an interest in and extensive knowledge of psychiatry,
researching the link between mental health and poverty, and was one of the co-
founders of Mind. She started the Lewes Road Dispensary for Women and Children in Brighton, which developed in 1905 into The Lady Chichester Hospital for the
Treatment of Early Mental Disorders, the first of its kind. This was a successful
pioneering venture, of which Helen Boyle remained the ‘head and heart’ for fifty
years, seeing it through several moves and expansions. She continued to work there until the NHS took over in 1948. In the 1914-18 war she served for five months in Serbia with the Royal Free Hospital Unit, and was decorated with the order of ST Sava.

Dr. Louisa Martindale was asked to join the Lewes Road Dispensary for Women and Children as a visiting medical officer and in 1920 was instrumental in the setting up
of the New Sussex Hospital for Women in Windlesham Road, Brighton, holding the
post of senior Surgeon and Physician until 1937. Louisa’s medical interests
were sometimes controversial, especially her studies of venereal disease and
prostitution; her book Under the Surface (1909), in which she spoke quite openly
about these very topics, apparently caused a stir in the House of Commons.
Nonetheless she was awarded with the CBE in 1931.

Appropriately, in the centenary month of the Representation of the Peoples Act,
Louise then described the lives of some local members of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).

00443F36-8D91-4920-8A60-78EF2681AEA0Brighton born Minnie Turner was an enthusiastic suffragette and was imprisoned in Holloway twice. She bought a boarding house for women only in Brighton, and this became a refuge for suffragettes. One day on returning to her house it was to find that a stone had been thrown through the window. Undismayed, she put up a poster next to the break stating ‘Male Logic’ with an arrow pointing to the broken pane.

5729EE39-C73D-474C-898C-22CEDF1EBACAAnother Sussex suffragette Mary Hare (1865-1945) famously defaced her 1911 census form – “women do not count so we will not be counted”. In 1914 she formed her own uniformed womens’ police force in Brighton, and later in life founded a school for the deaf based on the understanding, unique at the time, that deafness was not a mental disability but a sensory impairment that put up barriers to learning.
DD1CF49F-2E58-4523-A64F-3C55D3435F83Elizabeth Robins (1862-1952) was an American actress who came to the UK after her husbands’ suicide, joined the WSPU and turned to writing, including a play called ‘Votes for Women’. She moved to Henfield in 1913 and turned her
home into a place of convalescence for women who had been force fed while in prison.

E341FCCD-8CC0-40C7-B961-D87460761AD8Closer to home, fellow WSPU member Eleanor Higginson (1881-1969) moved to Bognor after her husband’s death and, with fellow suffragette Elizabeth Hesmondhalgh, moved to a house she renamed Pankhurst painted in the suffragette colours of white, violet and green! She died in Chichester in 1969 but the image of her resisting arrest remains as one of the most iconic of the Suffragette Movement.
A more famous name was English drag King Vesta Tilley (1864 –1952) who, until her retirement in 1920, was the highest paid female entertainer on the British stage.
6B1EDBEE-90A8-49EE-9D83-32D55B096AA7She left the stage to help her husband’s political career and became a Lady on  His knighthood.  For a time she was based in Hove and a blue plaque records where she lived.
Finally, Shoreham based Phyllis Pearsall (1905-1996) the woman
who invented the A-Z map series in the development of which she walked some
3,000 miles, checked the names of 23,000 streets, and worked 18 hour days. It was
BB277251-FFF1-4C55-BDC7-4397F7DBE078interesting to hear how difficult it had been for her to get it published but once
published it was of course a runaway success. On her retirement, she turned the
company into a trust to protect the employees and to ensure that it was never bought out.
Katie Lyne, on behalf of BRWI, gave a heartfelt vote of thanks.
After refreshments, Dinah updated the meeting on the upcoming ‘Bit on the Side’
activities as well as various group and WSFWI events.
The competition ‘My Inspirational Sister’ attracted four entries singing the praises of
an inspirational teacher, nurse Mary Seacole, Princess Sophie Duleep Singh and
Lady Penelope. First prize was shared by Karen (Lady Penelope) and Annie (Mary
Seacole) with Manuela winning third prize with Princess Sophia.
The raffle was drawn and the meeting concluded with Dinah wishing everyone a Safe journey home.

Gina Fitch-Roy