July Monthly Meeting – Can I Help You? I’m a Paramedic

Our meeting in July was “Can I help you, I’m a Paramedic?”

Our speaker, Bob Harding-Jones, is the oldest paramedic in the East of England.   This came about as he is still licenced but officially retired.   He joined the service in his 40s after a career as a dairy farmer, and spent 26 years on the front line.

Bob told us many stories from his time as a paramedic, including learning on the job about how to talk to patients, dealing with warring pensioners, coping with timewasting calls and sorting out genuine emergencies.

One of problems he had to deal with was the rigid automatic triage systems which couldn’t cope with 3 month old babies (“Can the patient form sentences?”) or 84 year old women (“Is the patient pregnant?”).   Needless to say, common sense prevailed.

Even “Dr Google” had his moment of glory in helping a patient diagnose a serious poisoning case themselves.   Bob explained that the key is to ignore the first sensational diagnoses and probably look for the NHS entries.

NFWI Annual Meeting in Brighton 11th June 2016

2016 NFWI Annual Meeting Notes

Chair’s Address – Janice Langley

Janice looked back on the centenary – including the fruit cake! – the WI Fair in Harrogate and the Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House.

She spoke about Denman and how with the extension of the campus, costs have also increased.  Only 3% of members use Denman and NFWI want to increase this.   Maintenance will be looked at by a professional survey company.

There will be a healthy eating week in June 2017.

The website will be updated with ‘Have a go at…’ projects to download.

NFWI can send someone to talk to groups with more than 50 members to tell them about the NFWI.

MCS currently shows 226,402 members.

Hon. Treasurer’s Statement

Income £6.83 million
Expenditure £7.28 million
Net deficit £450,000

Subs are likely to increase.


Appropriate care in hospitals for people with dementia

‘We call upon HM Government and the NHS to provide facilities to enable carers to stay with people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia that have been admitted into hospital.’

3305 for, 856 against – motion carried

Guest Speaker – Rona Fairhead, BBC Trust Chairman

She showed a montage of BBC clips and Tom Hiddleston’s appearance received plenty of attention.

She congratulated the WI on achieving so much in 101 years.

Financial pressures mean there will be tough decisions in the future but they will continue to Inform, Educate and Entertain.


Avoid food waste, address food poverty

‘The WI calls on all supermarkets to sign up to a voluntary agreement to avoid food waste, thereby passing surplus food on to charities thus helping to address the issue of increasing food poverty in the UK.’

5146 for, 1080 against – motion carried

Guest Speaker – Baroness D’Souza, Lord Speaker

She explained the procedures that occur in The Lords when bills come to them for approval from The Commons.

Although the age distribution, race and religion mix are changing, there is still a long way to go.   There are more than 800 members of the Lords – only the Chinese National Congress is larger – and she believes that it is too big.   It is also getting too politically biased and there are relatively fewer cross benchers.

Chair’s Remarks

The WI will continue to develop in the future.

More use will be made of the website and social media.

September is the next MCS month.

There will be a members only section of the website with exclusive resources, projects and recipes.

Moodle will be developed in it’s training role.

The WI wants to improve communication.

There will be a NFWI census for all members online and in WI Life so that members can express what they want from the WI, how it spends it’s money etc.

The meeting finished with the National Anthems plus a selection of Proms inspired songs.

Report by Louise – President – Puckeridge WI

June Monthly Meeting – Photo walk

Puckeridge WI Photo walk 6Our June meeting caused a bit of a stir in the village when a group of women were spotted roaming around with cameras.   Was Tom Hiddleston expected in Puckeridge?   Were William and Katherine popping down to the Crown and Falcon to avoid the crowds in Cambridge?   No, it was Puckeridge WI out on a photo walk.Puckeridge WI Photo walk 1We started off at the hall and were given a worksheet by Fallon, our expert, giving examples of things to try including close ups, filling the frame and shooting without looking through the viewfinder.Puckeridge WI Photo walk 5Simple every day objects were given the paparazzi treatment and studied in close detail.Puckeridge WI Photo walk 4Even the weather, which earlier had threatened to call the whole event off played ball in the end and helped with the photos, even if there was no chance of getting the lens flare shot ticked off the list.Puckeridge WI Photo walk 3I will never look at a brick wall in the same way again!Puckeridge WI Photo walk 2No matter whether we had a DSLR, a small compact or just a camera phone, we were all able to take part.   Fallon was also helpful answering questions about cameras and pointing out different angles and shots to try.   This was such an enjoyable meeting and one of my favourites so far.   Puckeridge WI Photo walk 7Our next meeting is on 12th July.   For more information, look at our About page and drop us an email to get on our newsletter mailing list.

May Monthly Meeting – Annual Meeting

Our May meeting was our Annual Meeting when we looked back on the last year’s events, elected a new committee and president, reviewed the accounts and debated the shortlisted Resolutions.

Resolution 1: Appropriate care in hospitals for people with dementia. “We call upon HM Government and the NHS to provide facilities to enable carers to stay with people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia that have been admitted into hospital”.   Following a discussion, members voted unanimously for the resolution and unanimously voted to give Louise discretion at the Annual Meeting in Brighton should any additional arguments arise.

Resolution 2: Avoid food waste, address food poverty.   “The WI calls on all supermarkets to sign up to a voluntary agreement to avoid food waste, thereby passing surplus food onto charities thus helping to address the issue of increasing food poverty in the UK.”  Following a discussion, members voted unanimously against the resolution and unanimously voted to give Louise discretion at the Annual Meeting in Brighton.

Your new committee is Louise, Yvonne, Karen and Emma, so please chat to one of us if you have any questions or suggestions.

Twiddle Muffs

We are asking members who knit or crochet to make up some Twiddle Muffs for us to complete and embellish at our September meeting.   Twiddle Muffs, also known as Sensory Bands, are textured and embellished bands which are given to dementia patients.   Fiddling with them can comfort and calm them and help with their symptoms.

Any donated materials are welcome, and patterns are available online.   One example is Sensory-band-pattern, and we have a local charity willing to accept them, as some hospitals have sufficient supplies for now.

April Monthly Meeting – Life as a Prison Officer

Life as a prison officerOur April speaker was Pauline Martindale, a former prison officer, who has worked in various roles in the prison service, and at different locations including Holloway and Wormwood Scrubs.

She told us a bit of the history of Holloway which opened as a mixed prison in 1853 and was built to resemble Warwick Castle.   In 1903 it became a women’s prison, and there have been 5 executions there including Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged.   She also revealed details of her ‘encounter’ with the ghostly Grey Lady.

She mentioned some of the diverse characters she met in prison: the repeat offenders, the criminal family ‘business’ members, the young mothers, the violent prisoners and the lawbreakers who used their time inside to get education and made the effort to rehabilitate.   Pauline pointed out that rehabilitation is only complete if there is acceptance on the outside once their prison term is over.

There were plenty of questions afterwards, and we all agreed that she was a very informative and entertaining speaker.

Next month will be our Annual Meeting.   We will be debating the two resolutions to be taken to the NFWI Annual Meeting in Brighton in June “Avoid food waste, address food poverty – The WI calls on all supermarkets to sign up to a voluntary agreement to avoid food waste, thereby passing surplus food on to charities thus helping to address the issue of increasing food poverty in the UK” and “Appropriate care in hospitals for people with dementia – We call upon HM Government and the NHS to provide facilities to enable carers to stay with people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia that have been admitted into hospital.”   We are also holding elections for our committee, and as a reward for all of that, there will be desserts and wine.

New members are always welcome, and your first meeting is free so come and give us a try!

March Monthly Meeting – Gardening for Wildlife

Anne Luder came to our March meeting to talk about Gardening for Wildlife.

She started her talk highlighting the numbers of native British birds, animals and plants that we have lost or are in danger of losing.   The WI has previously campaigned on the decline of the bee population due to decline in a favourable habitat, disease and climate change, but other factors are threatening other species.   The introduction of an aggressive American crayfish is endangering our smaller British native for example.   Cuckoo populations are in decline due to being hunted as a game bird in West Africa on their migration route.   Pollution, pernicious weeds, agriculture, loss of hedgerows and over-development also affect the habitats traditional British flora and fauna depend on.

Anne highlighted various ways we can make simple adaptations in our own gardens to encourage wildlife.

The RHS have a Perfect for Pollinators scheme which highlights good plants to include in your garden.   Leaving sections of the lawn uncut and planting wildflowers create habitats and food for beneficial insects and animals.   Making sure planting is dense and at different levels from ground cover to shrubs, climbers and trees offers protection for a diverse range of animal life, and ensuring your garden contains plants that flower at different times of the year to provide food for a wide range of pollinators.   Leaving plants to set seed rather than tidying up provides food for bird life and cover for bugs.

Putting bird feeders in your garden can also help, as can various types of nest boxes, bee houses, insect hotels and bat boxes, and putting water out, or having a pond or water feature adds to the diversity of your garden.

January Monthly Meeting – Walking the Camino

Puckeridge WI Walking the CaminoOur speaker for January was the inspirational Jacqui Robinson.

Jacqui tragically witnessed the sudden death of her husband.   This was obviously a traumatic experience, and she went through a painful grieving process.   A few years on, a conversation with an old walking friend led to them meet up again to walk the Camino de Santiago, the ancient Christian pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella from St Jean Pied de Port on the French side of the Pyrenees.   As her husband was a keen walker as well, she thought it would be a fitting way to remember his life.

So far she has completed two stages of the journey, and hopes to finish the final stage soon.   The normal time to walk the nearly 500 mile route is about 5-6 weeks, but the pace depends on the participants.   Jacqui chose to walk the route carrying her own 10kg rucksack and stayed in traditional Spanish Alburgues which can range from hostels in disused monasteries to beds in family homes along the way.

Jacqui’s talk was illustrated by stories and beautiful photos of the landscapes, the people she met and the things she saw.   She described her emotional journey and we wish her all the best for completing her journey in the near future.

Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House

Royal Opera House Nutcracker CurtainsThe WI Centenary is almost at an end, and celebration events for myself as a member of Puckeridge WI have already ranged from listening to a ukelele band in a barn at a Hertfordshire County centenary baton event to a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace.   The year has come to a fabulous end with a visit to the Royal Opera House to see the Royal Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker.

The event was a collaboration between the WI and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation which runs events to promote the Royal Opera House to people who have never experienced it before.   As soon as I received the details, I had to register to make sure I qualified as a first time attendee, and then a few days later I was poised at my computer at 9am as soon as the tickets went on sale.   I was so lucky to get the maximum six tickets, and made plans to take my husband, young daughters, mother and mother in law to the ballet.

A couple of weeks before the event I received an email saying that there would be a craft challenge to make Nutcracker themed accessories.   As committed crafters, my daughters and I got to work.   This sugar plum fairy mask was created by my 6 year old based on a mask blank from.Royal Opera House Nutcracker maskI searched Pinterest for ideas and made these Nutcracker earrings, and also created a snowflake headband the night before.
Royal Opera House Nutcracker EarringsOnce at the event, there were various workshops and talks before the performance including a group ballet class, a brass quintet, dressing up workshops and a backstage display.   We stopped at the costume restoration talk and saw the work involved keeping the archive of costumes maintained from one production to the next over many years.Royal Opera House Nutcracker Black Swan Costume RestorationNext up was the craft room where there were chances to make twirling ballerinas, stop motion animation and clocks.   My girls fancied making clocks, but due to the crowds and complexity of the design to be followed, we ended up making the basics and then bringing them home to finish later.
Royal Opera House Nutcracker CraftsAt 12 o’clock, it was time to take our seats.   Going into the auditorium was a real WOW moment.   My photos don’t convey the scale and grandeur of the place.Royal Opera House Nutcracker Curtains
Royal Opera House NutcrackerThe ballet itself was amazing.   The staging and performances were fabulous, and I really enjoyed looking across at my little girls’ faces at key moments to see the look of wonder on their faces.   Being in a venue with everyone over the age of 40 trying not to sing ‘Everyone’s a Fruit and Nutcase‘ during the Dance des Mirlitons was amusing!

It has been a fabulous centenary, and we are busy planning our programme for 2016.   If you would like to join us, email info@puckeridgewi.org for more details.   We start back in 2016 on 12th January and your first meeting is free.