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Friday, 22 May 2015

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Women’s institutes

THE January meeting started on a sad note because of the loss of one of their longstanding members, Joy Finney.

Joy was a past president and had undertaken almost every role on the committee over the years. She was a great supporter of Women’s Institute activities and joined in all sorts of events. A minute’s silence was held whilst everyone remembered Joy, at the end of which Jerusalem was sung.

The business part of the meeting was shorter, with the new method of promulgating Women’s Institute activities on a notice board.

The ladies were then captivated by a talk about bats given by Tina Whiffen.

Tina, who lives in Humshaugh and works for the Northumberland Bat Group, has an infectious enthusiasm for bats.

Her talk about the types of bats and their activities across Northumberland was supplemented by some excellent photographs.

At the end of her talk, Tina took out of a box a tiny soprano pipistrelle bat, a fascinating little creature with the most soft downy fur.

Perhaps in future the ladies will hope for more bats in the garden after they learned that they eat 3,000 midges a day!

In December, the Christmas party started with a glass of wine and a horticultural-themed quiz, won by Sally Blanckley.

Sonia Rennison produced some delicious and calorie-conscious dishes and desserts and members sang carols before choosing a present from the secret Santa baskets.

Margaret Earl

OVER 90,000 people visited Hexham Abbey last year, according to Derek Harris, as he shared his knowledge of the building dedicated to St Andrew by its founder Wilfrid.

Much of the early construction used Roman stones removed from Corbridge, some still bearing their original carvings.

The Abbey’s prominent position within Hexham meant it was a focal point throughout history, with some notable attempts to destroy it.

It continues to be involved with the local community, with exciting plans for its future.

The competition for a postcard of old Hexham was won by Barbara Gibson with a view of the Market Place.

Several members who visited Cresswell House last year praised the warm welcome and good facilities, and encouraged everyone to support the programme of events there.

Julia Woolley

EYES Down for table-top games. For their January meeting, and following the business meeting, members enjoyed a social evening of table-top games.

Members were paired into well-known duos and moved around the tables as the timer sounded.

There was much chatter as the members turned their hands to a 12th Century game from China, known to many as dominoes, and a Hindu game from India, known to many as snakes and ladders.

Other members played Beetle and tried out their artist talents creating a new insect!

All the members felt it was a great way to continue the anniversary year and begin a new calendar year.

During the Christmas meal at December’s meeting, members who were celebrating their birthdays in December were presented with the “anniversary” birthday card prepared by Betty Renwick.

Margaret Neil thanked the secretary for making the arrangements for the meal and president Judith Arthur wished members all the compliments of the season.

Margaret Neil

FOLLOWING the singing of Jerusalem, members held a minute’s silence in memory of Beryl Graham, a long standing member who died just before Christmas.

Members were given slips to vote on the resolutions for this year’s national general meeting.

There were two five-minute speakers. Ann Fenwick spoke affectionately about her fellow room-mates during a recent stay in hospital. One was a lady with a very affected accent and matching nightwear, another a woman with a family who were desperate to have her home to resume cooking the meals.

Jean Dougherty then read a poem she had written about the problems of dieting post-Christmas.

The speaker was Harold Dobson, who gave a very interesting talk on the introduction of red kites to the Derwent Valley in 2004 after an absence of 170 years.

He explained the problems that were encountered at first and showed beautiful photographs of the magnificent birds in flight.

The organisation, Friends of Red Kites, welcomes volunteers to participate in various projects.

AT the December meeting, a full hall guaranteed a festive atmosphere assisted by mulled wine on arrival. Seasonal refreshments were served.

Entertainment was provided by the Ukes of Northumberland, which included two institute members – Jean Dougherty and Polly Samson.

A poem about Ovingham Women’s Institute was read by Glynis Hind and to send everyone home in seasonal spirit, members listened to the famous poem Twas the night before Christmas. Everyone received a present from the bran tub before leaving.

Pat Stott

NO speaker and no competition doesn’t sound like much fun, but that is exactly what members’ night in January was – good fun.

President Barbara Nelson informed members that Riding Mill had done well at the Christmas event at Cresswell House, with three members winning prizes.

Barbara won first prize for her shortbread, with Ros Charman coming second. Jenny Coates won second prize in the short story section with a story entitled, Twas the night before Christmas.

After the conclusion of business, members settled down to listen to prose, poems and ditties read by several members, many of whom had written them as well.

The members then pored over photos of well-known people and attempted to answer questions relating to them.

The evening concluded with the usual cup of tea and biscuits and a lot of chat.

Thursday, February 6, is the Institute’s birthday meeting, when the members will be entertained by the Rubato singers.

Members have invited guests, so each member is asked to bring a plate of food for a pooled supper. The competition will be a Valentine item.

THE December meeting was a celebration of the festive season, with entertainment by the Ukes of Northumberland, a ukulele four-piece band.

Members were transported through the decades, around the United Kingdom and beyond, with a fabulous selection of songs ranging from George Formby to the Beatles.

There was a great turnout of invited guests from Corbridge and Lowgate, making it the perfect evening to catch up with friends old and new and a plentiful supper was provided by members.

The competition for a Christmas cracker was won by Penny MacLoughlin with Barbara Nelson second.

The Northumberland Federation carol service at Hexham Abbey was a great success, with several members attending.

Jenny Coates

THE December meeting was the members’ annual Christmas meal which was well-attended and everyone enjoyed themselves with all the party decorations and raffles, a lovely end to 2013.

The members have had a very successful year. In October, they were delighted to welcome the Northern Stars Fiction Academy to the hall to film their production of The Anxiety Club directed and produced by budding young film producers.

The hall was used as a base for four days, using one of members and her husband as extras.

It wonderful to see the hall and the library used as backdrops for these talented young people.

The film was premiered at the Electra studio at the Tyneside cinema in December, with 120 people attending.

Three films were shown, including the Heddon film, whose young director was given the award for best director.

It was wonderful to see Heddon Women’s Institute, and the library featured in the credits at the end.

The next meeting is the Institute’s members’ night when the committee will be providing the entertainment.

Olive White

THE members ended the year with a demonstration of making sugarcraft cake decorations.

Each member received their own icing fondant to make their own personal decoration. The result was some very good Christmas trees and poinsettias.

In the making, members had plenty of laughs and, of course, lots of chat.

The Christmas meal was held at the Wheatsheaf Hotel in the village, which was enjoyed by 23 members.

Members visited the Theatre Royal, Newcastle, and had plenty of laughs at the pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk.

The New Year was heralded in by a party,which consisted of a quiz, making a paper hat and followed by a delicious afternoon tea.

Corbridge Women’s Institute wishes all other Institutes a happy and successful New Year.

Suzette Milne

ON a gloomy, wet January evening our first meeting of 2014 was enlightened with an excellent talk by Hugh Richardson from Wheelbirks farm.

Hugh explained his family history in farming from the 1880s when his ancestor David Richardson, an industrialist in Newcastle, bought the land near Stocksfield.

He told members that the workers from Newcastle came out to the farm for picnics every summer for fresh air and a sanatorium was built for the recovery of patients with TB.

Later, Hugh’s grandfather, Colin, took the farm on and started milking cows. Over the years, the family has tried many crops, including potatoes, barley, wheat and oil seed rape.

Nowadays, Hugh farms with his brother, Tom, and grows barley and has one of the top Jersey herds in the country.

Since foot and mouth, the brothers have diversified into ice cream and now have an ice cream parlour serving a wide range of flavours. Hugh was thanked on behalf of the members by Ann Paton.

The competition was for an ice cream recipe. Jean Gordon took first place with a rhubarb and custard flavour. Second place went to president Maureen Stevens, with her cranberry and limoncello flavour, and third place went to Lynn Mould with her ginger, honey meringue and chocolate flavour. Yum yum.

Next month is members’ night and new members are always welcome.

At December’s meeting, members celebrated Christmas with a meal and entertainment in the parish hall.

The committee provided the main course of meats, salmon and salads, while other members brought wonderful desserts and mince pies.

The hall had been tastefully decorated for Christmas by members of the committee and the meal was followed by entertainment from the Rubarto Singers from Minsteracres.

The evening ended with everyone receiving a present from secret Santa.

Lynda white

THE December meeting, which was rearranged to miss New Year celebrations, included a fascinating talk by Flora Dixon on Walking the Pacific Way, which is also a riding trail of 2,650 miles from Santiago, Mexico, to the north of the United States, which took her husband and herself from April to September 20, walking an average of 20 miles per day while carrying everything they needed on their backs.

Life was reduced to basics, but thoughts of food and water, also carried, kept them going. No water in the deserts, so washing was abandoned. Everyone smelled dreadful, so much so that a small child, whose mother gave them a lift, complained bitterly of the awful smell in the car.

Fiona told members that of 340 walk starters a year, only 60 complete the trail.

After the heat and deserts of California, Oregon was much lusher, but with mountains that made ours sound like molehills. Some desert hills were 6,000 to 7,000 ft high and with no water.

The day’s walking began at 5am or 6am. In addition to the real risk of being lost in the wilderness, they met bears, necessitating hanging food from trees, a rattlesnake barring their way and scorpions, etc.

They were warned not to attempt climbing mountains after 2pm, because of late weather conditions and ease of being lost, a terrifying experience for them.

Blisters too were a big problem, but duct tape proved the best treatment.

The drank black coffee, as American tea bags were so awful.

Once home again, they really appreciated chairs, beds and baths.

Diana Woodhall

ANNE Tullock welcomed members and guests to the Christmas meeting and congratulated Alison Scrimshaw on winning the Christmas wreath class at Cresswell House earlier in the month.

Carols were sung and, as members had decided to stay at home for their Christmas party, caterer Ian Coulson made sure they didn’t regret their decision.

He provided a wonderful supper of cold meats and salads, followed by delicious desserts.

The following day, members attended the annual carol service at Hexham Abbey – always a popular outing.

Barbara Robinson

THE Christmas party proved a memorable evening thanks to Fiona Lander and Paul Mason who performed traditional and contemporary folk music involving jazz and other musical styles.

Landermason showed their versatility and talent as they sang songs ranging from their own arrangement of When the boat comes in to Silent Night.

There was also lively accompaniment from saxophone, whistles, keyboard and guitar, as well as audience participation.

After such an energetic performance, Fiona and Paul joined everyone for the splendid supper provided by the members.

DURING a Christmas card- making workshop, Joyce Simm explained the history behind the giving and receiving of cards.

As no two cards made during the session were the same, it was a difficult task to decide the winner of the competition.

This was finally judged to have been created by Sheona Wardle, with Moira Howard’s effort in second place.

At the Christmas party, a meal of cold meats, salads and sweets was provided by the committee.

The competition for a Christmas poem, which involved members reading out their verse, was won by Eileen Martin with her dramatic rendition of Little Red Riding Hood and Jane Brown who wrote The Weight Watchers’ Christmas Lament.

The evening ended with carol singing accompanied by Francis Wise on the keyboard.

Cath Duffy