A New Year Gift

Julia Waters & Enid Fowles with hanging
Enid with current President Julia Waters

18 years ago Enid Fowles, the youngest member of Barnt Green WI, was entrusted with a very important item.  It was a hanging, belonging to the recently closed WI.  Her role was to keep it in case Barnt Green WI reopened, and now that time has come.   Enid (who is now 82 and one of our oldest members) was able to present it to Julia Waters, President of the new generation Barnt Green WI, at our recent January meeting.

The hanging had been given to the village WI by a women’s group in Nilma North, a town in Victoria County, Australia, a very long time ago. A collect/prayer is embroidered on the hanging and is signed by Marie Stuart.  It begins ‘Greeting Barnt Green, from Nilma North’ and a monogram in the top corner has the letters ACW in it plus VICTORIA. Might these letters stand for Association of Christian Women or something similar? We would love to know more about the link between our village and Nilma North. Our research has shown 2 origins of the prayer – Mary Stuart of the US and also Mary Queen of Scots; perhaps if any readers know anything, they could get in touch.


Tea at Madresfield

20170802_142102.jpgIt was August again and we had been asked by the Malvern Club for the Blind to provide afternoon teas for their members on their annual visit to Madresfield Court for a stroll around the gardens.

All of our members get involved with this event in one way or another, whether it is making cakes and savouries, preparing the sandwiches, making small flower arrangements and of course serving the teas. Then there is the dreaded washing up.

The members of the club along with their careers and companions, usually around 50 people, came in early this year because it was a damp and dreary day, but they were entertained throughout the afternoon by a small band playing fiddles and accordion.  Good foot tapping music.

While serving the tea we make time for a chat with the members.   We then have time for a cuppa and cake in the kitchen while we are waiting for the cleanup.

There are always cakes left over which the members of the club gratefully take home with them, along with the flower arrangements.

This is an afternoon that we all enjoy and look forward to each year!

Wells and Wyche WI

The joys of being a Denman Guide


What a privilege to be a Denman guide, welcoming visitors to ‘The Jewel in our WI Crown’ as it is affectionately called. Monday is the designated day for day visits as it is a natural gap between the finish of the weekend courses and before the start of new courses on Monday afternoon.


Members arrive in time for coffee and the delicious Denman shortbread, they then have the choice of a garden tour strolling around our beautiful grounds while others may like to view the accommodation we offer and most are keen to see their own Federation bedroom and enjoy comparing various other en suite bedrooms. We can also offer retail therapy at the well-stocked Denman Shop and our fundraising fabric shop.

We always have an official welcome from one of the Denman staff, the guides are allocated their groups to look after for the tour of Denman, this takes place after a two course lunch and a glass of wine. During the tour we have the wonderful opportunity to explain the history and story of Denman as we view the main house, the new purpose built accommodation and the teaching centre.

An alternative type of day – ‘A Taste of Denman’ -starts with a cookery demonstration followed by lunch and guided tour. All these days finish with a cream tea – what better way to end a day out!

We wave goodbye to many happy members clutching their 10% discount card and a brochure to decide on the course they will use it for when they return to Denman.

Christine Hickman-Smith

Is it in walking distance??


This question has taken on a whole new complexion since walking 150 miles from Malvern to Liverpool – almost anywhere is within walking distance if you have enough time…

I walked with my friend Hazel Eyton-Jones, who I met at West Malvern WI, and it took us nine days. At the end of the walk, we presented a green heart to Janice Langley, then Chair of the WI, to thank the WI for getting involved in the climate change agenda.

Inspired by the WI’s green heart campaign, I have started to present people with green hearts to thank them for taking positive action on climate change.  And what better way to travel than walking?

We started local, with members of Poolbrook WI and West Malvern WI walking round Malvern and presenting green hearts to our theatre for switching to LED lighting, our community centre for generating solar power and growing food, a charity dress exchange for encouraging us to re-use and a supermarket for buying renewable energy. We involved our MP and generated somelocal press coverage.

The walk to Liverpool was altogether a different proposition. The most stressful thing was making the green heart. It had to be good enough to present it to the WI – I didn’t want to let the side down. It took several attempts, but in the end I was pleased with the result.

During our walk we stayed with WI members when we could. They were all incredibly generous, opening their homes to us and looking after us.   I suspect that Sally (Holt WI) and her husband Dave  (pictured above) thought we were crazy, but welcomed us anyway. They are excellent conversationalists – and very good at drying out sopping wet walking boots…

Cathy (Dabber Dames WI) and her husband Phil welcomed us with a green heart tree in their hallway, as Dabber Dames members are also involved in the green heart campaign. Cathy and Phil are full of a joie de vivre, and the evening rang with laughter.

Ann (Whitegate WI) and her husband Fred are real characters. They introduced us to Nancy, who showed us her membership card from when their WI was started in 1954 and regaled us with stories as we ate lovely local food.

Our final stay was with Lorraine (Runcorn WI) and her husband John. Lorraine introduced us to the other members of their craft club, who we joined for lunch at the Annual Meeting – and also introduced me to lamb bananas (look them up if you’re curious).

Hazel and I had a fantastic trip. We had a lot of fun as well as raising the profile of the need to take action on climate change. We became experts at climbing through, under and over fences at great speed while being stampeded by cows. We walked in the sun and the driving rain. We talked and laughed a lot. And we became even firmer friends – all thanks to the WI.

Julia Goodfellow-Smith

West Malvern WI