March 2018 Meeting

President Dinah Barrand welcomed members (including two new members – welcome!) and three visitors to the meeting.

image4On to the main event: – Ben Cross from Crossland Flower Nursery, who gave an impassioned and informative illustrated talk on British Alstromerias and the UK Cut Flower Industry.  Ben is a fourth generation grower and described how his great grandparents, Albert and Louisa, moved to Sidlesham from Abertillery in 1936, under the Land Settlement Association. The Land Settlement Association (“the LSA”), a government-supported initiative, was founded in 1934 at the height of the depression under the auspices of the Society of Friends and the Carnegie Trust.  It was established “to carry out an experimental scheme, with financial assistance from the Government, for the provision of rural small-holdings for unemployed persons from the industrialised cities”.  The initial programme was for provision of some 2000 smallholdings throughout England and Wales. The holdings ranged from 5 to 10 acres, the small ones for horticulture and the larger ones for livestock, particularly pigs. By 1938 it had 25 estates of which 20 had been developed, containing 1031 let holdings in total.  A further 75 were retained for propagating. At the outbreak of the Second World War, the policy changed to accommodate the need for intensive food production and only tenants with agricultural experience were taken on. Thus, by the end of the War the LSA had become more of a co-operative, with co-ordinated skilled production and marketing. Ben told us that the Sidlesham Co-operative was a well organised community that boasted its own school, WI and football team.

image3After time however, Albert and Louisa wanted to branch out on their own, and in 1957 they moved to Walberton where they grew salad crops, chrysanthemums, and kept livestock.  It was here too they started to grow Peruvian lilies or alstromerias, now the sole crop of the nursery.  Ben described how the alstromeria lends itself to growing in Sussex because, as a ‘cool crop’ and thus not needing much additional heating, it has a small carbon footprint.  He explained the life cycle of the flowers – it is a rhizome which needs to be replaced just once every 20 years – and the rhythm of work that needs to be undertaken during the year including cutting, tucking, thinning and weeding. Ben told the members that over 90% of all cut flowers are imported with the associated environmental costs of transport, packaging, high water use and wastage, and urged members to consider buying British when possible, citing freshness, the benefit to local economies, less waste, price and lower carbon footprint. The vote of thanks given by Katie Lyne echoed the thoughts of members who committed to giving thought to where and how their flowers are produced, buy British where possible and consider how we can encourage more outlets to carry locally grown cut flowers.

IMG_2180Dinah then introduced Linda and Charlie from the Friends of Bognor Hospitals and a number of beautiful twiddle muffs and lap quilts made by members were handed over and received with thanks.

After refreshments, Dinah proposed two new projects to members: a tablecloth/banner and a scrapbook. Lynn Douet showed the meeting the scrapbooks made by Chichester Regnum WI and it is hoped that volunteers will put themselves forward to take on the production of similar scrapbooks for BRWI.

Stonepillow are asking for the following and members were asked to bring contributions to the April meeting:

  • Handwash, washing up liquid and toilet rolls
  • Washing powder
  • Bin bags, kitchen foil and cling film
  • Anti-bacterial spray and cleaning sponges/cloths
  • Chopping boards and tea towels


image1Finally, the winner of the competition ‘English Country Garden’ was announced. There were five entries displaying a range of crafts; Karen McCreedy took the top spot with Sarah Greenaway second and Gill Lowden third.

The meeting closed at 2130 with Dinah wishing everyone a safe journey home.

words: Gina Fitch-Roy

photos: Katie Lyne 


Reminder – South Rife Meeting

Our WI is part of the South Rife group.  On Monday 19th March at 2.00 pm at Bersted Park Community Centre there will be a very interesting talk on Edith Cavell.


Edith was a World War I British nurse who is celebrated for saving the lives of soldiers in Brussels from all sides without distinction. She and Belgian and French colleagues helped over 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium. She was arrested, tried with 33 others by a German military court, found guilty of ‘assisting men to the enemy’, and shot by a German firing squad on October 12 1915. Although remembered primarily for the way in which she met her death, she should also be remembered for her extraordinary contribution to the principles of modern nursing.

Tickets are still available for this event at £2.50 and there will be refreshments and a raffle – get your tickets at our meeting next week.

Gina Fitch-Roy

Suffragette talk at Denman




Five intrepid members set off in the early hours of Wednesday morning heading for Denman. To avoid rush hour traffic, we decided to cut across country and found ourselves on single-track roads in the Hampshire countryside. Many bends and beautiful views later we got back to the main road and were soon approaching Denman college. Coffee, pastries, a warm reception room and loos greeted us, all of which were very welcome after the two and half hour journey.


IMG_2250Diane Atkinson, a leading authority and author of several books on the Suffragettes, gave a passionate and inspiring talk. She explained how women of all classes and from all parts of the UK were involved in the movement. She showed some fascinating slides that helped to illustrate her empathetic stories about many of the women. We were each given a copy of her latest book ‘The Remarkable Lives of Suffragettes’ and I can’t wait to settle down for a good read.

We were then served a tasty 2-course lunch with wine and were fortunate that Diane sat at our table, giving us the chance to have a more informal chat. We’re so lucky as she has agreed to lead a ‘Suffragette Walk and talk’ around Westminster for us when we go to London on August 1st.

Dinah Barrand


Hawking on the Downs


Before I knew Hawking About had been booked to speak in June, I booked an outing with them in February.  We had an absolutely fabulous couple of hours walking on the downs with the hawks, and Kevin, the owner, was a mine of information and enthusiasm.  His passion for the birds was obvious, and I can highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in birds of prey – just be aware, you have to be prepared for them to catch something!
Jakki Thurgood

Four of Our BRWI Members Boldly Go


13 Tim Peake FOC

Four of our intrepid members, undaunted by the the rigours and dangers of distance, travelled to the Chichester Festival Theatre on Sunday the 25th of February. Their mission, should they accept it, was to witness Major Tim Peake CMG being presented with the Freedom of the City.

Cold as it was outside the theatre, the atmosphere inside was as exciting and electric as a solar flare. Whilst in the cafe having tea and cake (very WI) we spotted a man in a very fetching space themed waistcoat and a chain of office round his neck. We asked if he would have his photo taken with us , he accepted and he turned out to be the Mayor of Bognor Regis!!

With BR Mayor2

08 Tim Peake FOCThe ceremony started with the arrival of the mace and the introduction of the civic party.  The Mayor of Chichester provided a very amusing opening to proceedings before Major Tim collected his prestigious award. After an interval, when he changed into his ‘working gear’, he enthralled everyone by recalling technical details and the living conditions he experienced during his six month stint at the International Space Station. He amused everyone with his humorous delivery and afterwards answered questions from children in the auditorium.

At the end of the presentation the audience packed into the theatre entrance where as many as possible had the chance of shaking hands with this amazing first Brit to live in space on the ISS.

Everyone agreed a wonderful time was had by all.

Words – Annie Smith

Photos – Karen McCreedy and Sue Austin

Eating Out Group at the Beachcroft Hotel


Members of the Eating Out Group enjoyed a meal at the Beachcroft Hotel on 22nd February.

Our small group was somewhat outnumbered by a large coach party taking up most of the restaurant but we enjoyed good food, some rose wine and each other’s company.

It was particularly lovely to have Stella join us on what was her birthday. We know she enjoyed herself, despite looking somewhat solemn in her photo.

Of particular note was the yummy desserts, dark chocolate and orange torte and a trio of desserts.

Roll on next month!!

Sue Harris