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.

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Sue Harris


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!

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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.

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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


Walking Netball


Bognor Regis WI netball team continues to thrive, playing every Wednesday 6-7pm at the Arena sports hall. We’re really lucky to have the lovely Ann coaching, and attempting to teach us skills, tactics and rules.


Sarah has embroidered team polo shirts for us all.

You’re welcome to pop along anytime – Annie Smith is our organiser.

Dinah Barrand

County Craft Award 2019

Back in the spring, the West Sussex Federation Art & Craft Sub-Committee announced this year’s County Craft Competition. As 2019 is West Sussex Federation’s Centenary Year – the competition had a centenary theme.

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Members were asked to use the county flower of Sussex the ‘Round-headed Rampion’ – a flower also known as the ‘Pride of Sussex’, as shown on the Federation’s centenary badge, as inspiration….. and produce an item of craft in any medium.

Three members of Bognor Regis WI took up the challenge and produced three completely different and beautiful entries.

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All the items submitted by West Sussex members were pre-judged at North Lodge by an independent judge from outside our Federation. All the items were displayed at the WSFWI Annual Meeting in October and the results of the competition were announced.

Our members did exceptionally well…

Barbara F was awarded 1st Place with her 3d Textile Rampion, and she was presented with the Silver Plate at the Annual meeting, which she will have on loan for the year.

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June S was awarded ‘Highly Commended’ for her curved glass picture

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Jan A was awarded ‘Commended’ for her framed stitched picture of the Downs

Congratulations to all of them, your fellow Bognor Regis WI members are very proud of you!

Words and pictures: Lesley Guppy


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



Autumn Walks


Our Autumn Walks have started with a keen eye on the weather forecast, as October has been generally grey and damp so far! We did, however, squeeze in a bright, sunny walk at Dell Quay where we saw egrets, enormous toadstools and a late summer flower, disproving the chillier days.

Medmerry 3 Oct 2019

The Federation Outdoor Talk and Walk at Medmerry, Selsey, treated some of our members to an excellent guided tour and talk by the RSPB. Unfortunately, one of the days had to be postponed given the amount of rain forecast. An alternative date is being arranged.

Jan Marsden

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.

Tents in Kent – WI Camp August 2019

9 members of Bognor Regis WI had a fun filled, slightly damp weekend camping near Tunbridge Wells at Adamswell Scout camp – this is what the campers had to say  ….

This was my second W I camp very different to the first.  The location was lovely in the Kent countryside with the railway track running along one side and a stream on the other.

Highlight for me was the steam engine running one way and a diesel the other pulling carriages, two of which, Kate and Dora, appropriately named for Katie and Dora the Explorer, known to many as Jan.

With not so many planned activities and a more casual approach to events made for a relaxed atmosphere.  We spent time as campers together sitting, chatting, discussing, laughing, playing games volleyball, Chinese shuttlecock, giant bubble blowing and a brilliant walk on the Saturday breaking at Groomsbridge railway station for coffee before walking back across fields.

It was a brilliant weekend, despite the wet start with good company, food and companionship.  Thank you campers.


I was slightly apprehensive about camping; having long ago thought I’d packed my tent away for good.  However, I had forgotten how much fun camping could be, especially when in the company of other women. We chatted and laughed the whole time, played games, ate cake and drank gin, with the odd craft activity or informative talk thrown in.  Perfect weekend.

No thanks to me, our camp was amazingly well organised, having every comfort of home and I was well fed across the whole weekend. Who knew that an inflatable mattress could be so comfortable!! Even the rain didn’t stop us having fun.

I would like to thank my fellow campers for being such good company and for their brilliant camp building skills. I look forward to next year.



Knowing we were going to get rain did dampen my excitement I must admit, but once Jan arrived at my house and we filled my little TARDIS – away we went.

‘Tents in Kent’ was a little underwhelming, but BRWI base camp was brilliant. Great food (thanks Jack) great company (thanks everyone) great fun we had a blast!!

Here’s to next year!


Although I secretly hoped Kent WIs would cancel the camp, due to the wet weather forecast for most of the camp weekend, I am so pleased they did not.

Initially, full of enthusiasm, following a brilliant camp in East Sussex last year, my commitment was dampened by the threat of rain – lots of it.  My thoughts about camping changed from excitement to thoughts of an endurance challenge.  However, I should never have doubted the encouragement of my companions – what a brilliant time we had.

I still chuckle to myself about exiting my tiny tent backwards, on my knees with my rear in the air, and the fact, even as our WI walk leader for nine years, I went to camp without a map!  I like my new name though – Dora the Explorer.

The best bit for me was everyone being together – brilliant – now I know we can overcome anything.  Oh, and the fact my new wellingtons kept my feet dry!

Well done campers – loved every minute of it.   Thank you.


So my tent has been cleaned and dried, my duvet aired, clothes washed and mud removed from my wellingtons. Camp is over for another year. We all survived despite the heavy rain and wind on Friday night.

There were not many activities on offer that I wanted to join in with but I was pleased with the Flower Crown I made with fresh flowers, and hopefully will remember how to make one in the future.

Our walk from the campsite to Groombridge, without the help of a map, took longer than we had anticipated. (We set off in the wrong direction) But a cup of coffee at Groombridge Station was most welcome as indeed were the toilets.

The highlight of the w/e was our performance in the Tents in Kent talent show. We were the ONLY entry. Did I ever think I would spend an evening with 8 other lovely ladies all dressed in shower caps, swimsuits, wellies and raincoats singing together in front of 40+ other WI members. That is why we are BRWI. We love a challenge. A WI member from Worthing said, ‘I want to come to your WI, you obviously have a lot of fun.’  And we do.


My highlight was the camaraderie and grit that BRWI showed in light of the rain and general rubbish changeable weather. It was a joy just to spend time with the squad – whether whilst walking, experiencing an activity or just chatting under the gazebo whilst getting wet. Also the cakes – obviously!