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Women’s Institute

wiawvWhat is it all about?
Today’s WI is very different from the often held idea of tea drinking, cake baking, twin set and pearl-wearing ladies. Yes, we do drink tea, many of us make cakes, some might even have a twin set, unlikely, and many of us have pearls. But, and it is a big but, we also are doctors, dentists, scientists, photographers, nurses, IT specialists, artists and plenty of ladies fulfilling a variety of roles and ambitions all of whom happen to be members of our local Women’s Institute.
A recent meeting of Shipton WI saw members create hand-tied bouquets of flowers under the expert tutelage of a local florist. A day or two before that, three members delivered 54 syringe driver bags to Sobell House in Oxford. They had sewn these as an initiative to hone sewing skills and give something back to the community. Whilst sewing, yes tea was drunk and cake was eaten, but news was exchanged, concerns discussed and a lot of laughter took place.

Variety is the spice of life
At Milton WI you could have enjoyed a talk about a Chippy midwife who risks life and limb to deliver equipment and supplies to midwives and birth attendants in Myanmar. Milton answered an appeal to provide simple clothes to ‘Dress a Girl Around the World’, which fitted nicely into their ‘Back to Basics’ afternoons brushing up on cooking and sewing skills.
Several ladies attended the Oxfordshire County Modern Farming Day at the Fawdry’s farm at Salford, and the Haines’ farm at Rollright. A bumpy tractor and trailer ride around the first farm gave an insight into their work with wildlife and conservation. A delicious lunch, which included Rollright cheese, reminding us to keep it local, was served at the Haines’ farm. The cows were free range, though milked by a robotic machine which allows the cows to choose whether to be in the barn, in the farm or in the milking parlour – a glimpse into the future of farming on our doorsteps.

Inspiring women
Just what are we doing today to draw in new members and keep our focus on the 21st century? The backbone of any Institute is still the monthly meeting, with the focus on providing interesting social meetings when members get together, listen to stimulating speakers and chat over a cup of tea and a homemade cake. Talks cover a wide range of topics – local and far-flung.
Outings are always popular, with trips to the Waitrose Cookery School, a local gin distillery, (it is not always tea and cake), local walks, quiz nights, an evening picnic in the Wild Garden, harvest lunches and suppers. Then there are quiz nights, Scrabble sessions and poetry and play reading sessions, darts matches, ten-pin bowling and golf. You show an interest and someone will get it organised!

Carry on learning
Did you know that the national WI has its own college, situated very conveniently for us at Marcham, near Abingdon? The curriculum for residential courses is extensive with something to cover every conceivable subject at affordable prices. You could be lucky enough to be awarded a bursary to help cover costs. More than just a course, it could be a life-changing experience. Take a look at the website for more information on courses and costs:
You may well have heard about the national AGM, held each year in cities around the country to give every member a chance to participate. Resolutions are discussed at meeting level and one is eventually chosen at the AGM to be put before Government. At this year’s AGM, held at the Echo Centre in Liverpool in June, 4500 members listened to expert witnesses and voted on resolutions as diverse as ‘Alleviating Loneliness’ and ‘Plastic Soup: Keep microplastic fibres out of our ocean’. Look out for further discussions on these vital matters in the national press.

So what is it all about?
Having given you a flavour of what goes on, why not come along to a meeting and see for yourself? You will be warmly welcomed. As far as we are concerned the WI means friendship, supporting each other in times of need and reaching out to others.
Milton meets on the third Tuesday of the month, 7.30 p.m. at Milton Village Hall. Contact Linda Dixon on 01993 830411 for more information.
Shipton meets on the second Thursday of the month, 7.30 p.m. at New Beaconsfield Hall, Shipton. Contact Mary Drainer on 01993 832777 for more information.

Linda Dixon for Milton WI
Christine Halliday for Shipton WI

August – September 2017