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This page tells you more about what we've got up to each meeting. The latest meeting is at the top or scroll down to browse previous meetings.
Paulette welcomed 39 members and guests.  Apologies were given for Bonnie who is unwell and Dora who is away.  Paulette briefly explained the situation with the position of Treasurer and asked the membership to support her nomination for Dora to be a full member on the Committee.  This was proposed by Cheryl and seconded by Lorna and Debbie.  Dora is now the Treasurer for the First Ladies (Barking and Dagenham) WI. 

Committee updates
Secretary – Jo mentioned sign-up sheets for the following Essex events:

Thursday 27th July 2017 - Stow Maries trip (CM3 6RJ) - 1.45pm - £20 including tea.

Friday 4th August 2017 - Poetry and Pimms (Hatfield Peverel CM3 2AG) - 2pm to 4pm - £10.

Friday 29th September 2017 - Jazz Evening (CM6 1DG) - 7pm to 11pm - £25 (£28 non members).

Friday 6th October 2017 - Threads of Essex (Howard Hall, Bocking End, Braintree CM7 9AA) - 9.45 am to 3.15 pm - £20 vegetarian lunch included.

Friday 13th October 2017 - Autumn County Meeting (Civic Hall, Grays RM16 2JU) - 10am to 3pm - £15 - closing date 18th September.

Friday 20th October 2017 - Autumnal Lunch at Colne Valley Golf Club (CO6 2LT) - from 12 noon - £30.50 - closing date 5th September.

Saturday 25th November 2017 - Centenary Ball at Chelmsford Racecourse (CM3 1QP) - 6.30pm to 12 midnight - £48 including 3 course meal and entertainment. 

Thank you for collecting used postage stamps for Hearing Dogs for the Deaf, a bag was given to Debbie this evening.  The raffle tickets for NFWI and FEWI, both at £1 each are still for sale.

Treasurer – Dora is now our Treasurer.
Register and MCS – Jen asked for the membership to ensure that they sign in at each meeting and to update her of address changes.

The activity
This evening we had a talk by Pip Field from Company Drinks on the History of Hop Picking.  (Unfortunately our original speaker for this evening, Kathrin Bohm was unable to attend, but we are very grateful that she arranged for Pip to be our speaker.)  Company Drinks is an Art project supported by LBBD since 2014.   The project is self-funding and has the ethos of giving back to the community and to nature.  It was great that some of our members remember hop picking in the 1950s, when it was great to get the clean country air due to the smog in London.  The advantage of the hop picking trips was that they brought people together and had a family atmosphere.  Nowadays the project runs workshops and local harvest trip which are free of charge.   We sampled drinks from Company, made from fruits and berries which were foraged locally at Eastbrookend Park.  Hop picking in Kent, members can book up to go on the next excursion.
For more information please contact Kathrin on 07941 696515 or email    The vote of thanks was given by Sheila.

Thanks to Sandra who gave the birthday wishes out and to Liz for making the birthday cards.
Thanks to Lorna and Alison for doing the raffle. 
Many thanks to those who donated cakes and plums for the tea break this evening, it was a refreshing change to have cold drinks at the meeting.

The Anniversary Bursary
Will now be known as the First Ladies Bursary and will be drawn to fit in with the financial year.  It will be drawn in April and will need to be used by the end of February of the following year.   The outstanding bursary will be drawn at the September meeting but will need to be used by the end of February 2018 (within the current financial year).

Craft groups – As normal. 

New Craft Group – Victoria’s new card craft making group has been a success.  All of the spaces available have been filled at the moment.  The times are the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays from 1.30 – 3.30pm.  There would be a nominal cost of £1 per session.  Please see Victoria if you would like to join later.

Book – 12th July 2017 at 7.30 pm in the Community Room at Tesco in Goodmayes.   Please contact Alison for more details.  The current book is Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.

Coffee club – Oasis Café at Valance House, 3rd Wednesday of the month 1.30 – 3.30pm        (21st July and 16th August)

Singing group - Beacontree Methodist church, 7 - 8.30pm 1st and 3rd Monday of the month.   Next meeting on 17th July. 

Cinema – Liz will be emailing about the next film. 

Walking – Thank you to all those who sponsored Janet, Jackie and Jo to do the Race for Life 5K walk on 24th June at Victoria Park.   Janet has arranged a walk on Tuesday 11th July on Hampstead Heath meeting at Barking station at 11 am.  Please let Janet know if you are interested on

Theatre – Gill is arranging a trip to Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch to see Fiddler on the Roof on Friday 21st July at 7.30pm.  £17.50 Regular and £15.50 Concessions.   Please contact Gill at

Collectors Club – Cheryl is planning to run this club on a Thursday evening once a month.    Please contact Cheryl on if you are interested in joining.

Events – On Saturday 15th July at 2pm Sheila will be holding her garden party.  A minimum donation of £4 is required for the cancer charity.  The address is 18 Hurstbourne Gardens, Barking IG11 9UX.  Telephone 020 8594 6250.  Please contact her directly for more information.

On Wednesday 26th July from 1.45 – 3.15pm there is a Big Band Concert at The Salvation Army, Ripple Road, Barking.  All are welcome and entrance is free.

The Danbury and Little Baddow Open Gardens event on 11th June 2017 raised £9200 for Farleigh Hospice.  Thanks to Cheryl for organising a group to attend. 

The Diverse Essex WI Show on 7th and 8th July was a huge success.  The exhibits were beautiful, there is so much talent in our county.  Jo’s knitted scarecrow received a ‘Highly Commended’.  Janet and Jo volunteered to be stewards on the Saturday.  They had great fun, first they ran the raffle for 2 hours, and then after a break it was time to direct cars parking on the field, which improved their suntans!  Then after all of the speeches and prizes it was time to dismantle the exhibition space and assist the exhibitors in locating their jam and chutney, over 100 entries!  It was lovely to catch up with ladies from Hornchurch Harmonies and Harold Wood WIs.

This is Janet’s view of the day:  “When it was mentioned that volunteers were needed for the day, I was interested in being involved, but as I don't drive wasn't sure if it was possible. I spoke to Jo and she said I could get a lift so my name was put down. I met Jo on Saturday morning and it took less than an hour to get there. It was good weather which helped. We were given the task of selling raffle tickets to begin with, seated just in the entry it was a good place for us. We organised ourselves and had sold plenty of tickets by the time the next pair took over. After a break for food and other essential things, we headed to the car park with high visibility tabards and umbrellas (to keep off the sun!) our task was directing cars to spare spaces to make best use of the car park.  After another break we helped return show items to their owners and take down the stands. It was hot and tiring but good to be a part of the day.”

At the June meeting, Jackie spoke passionately on the importance of learning basic first aid.  The training experience was shared with her daughter on London Ambulance Service’s Resuscitation course.  Subsequently her daughter was able to use the knowledge at work to help someone in a life threatening situation.

We need ideas of inspirational and educational ways to spend our funds.  Please either email your ideas to or bring them with you to the September meeting.

New Venue
At the meeting the majority voted in favour of moving to The Ripple Centre (following the previous month’s vote to find a new venue).  We would like to thank both Paulette and Eirlys in researching and visiting the options provided by the members.
Due to the cancellation policy at Eastbury Manor, minimum of 28 days notice, our next scheduled meeting will be at The Ripple Centre on 6th September 2017 at 7pm.
The Ripple Centre, 121 – 125 Ripple Road, Barking, IG11 7FN

This is next door to the Adult College of Barking and Dagenham.
Buses:                        287, 387, EL1, EL2, 368, 687, 62
Rail                             Barking Station
Underground:          District Line
                                    Hammersmith and City Line

Overground:             Gospel Oak - Barking

Next meeting will be on 6th September 2017.  The speaker is Sally Browne and the talk is on Cakes and Sugar craft. Members will get a chance to participate with the sugar craft.

Paulette welcomed 48 members and guests.  Apologies were given for Bonnie who is unwell and Eirlys (now Events and Vice President) who is attending the NFWI AGM in Liverpool as the delegate for our link group.  The following WIs are in our link group Cranham Engayne, Nelmes and Upminster & Cranham.  The new programme was introduced, please make sure you received a copy.  Paulette confirmed that the bursary protocol is near completion and will be ready for the members consultation at the July meeting.  Paulette then introduced the members of her new committee.

Victoria spoke about the upcoming event at Eastbrookend Country Fayre on Sunday 18th June and requested that members donate cakes for the stall and asked for volunteers to sign-up for time slots on the stall.  If you have any queries, or would like to offer your assistance in any way, please contact Victoria on

Committee updates
Secretary – Jo mentioned the current appeal for toiletries etc for the Homeless Ladies of Essex, many thanks to all those who have donated so far.  Janet and Jo are looking forward to stewarding at the Essex Fed Show which is taking place on 7th and 8th July in Hatfield Peverel.  Thank you for collecting used postage stamps for Hearing Dogs for the Deaf, a bag was given to Debbie this evening.  The raffle tickets for NFWI and FEWI, both at £1 each are still for sale.

Treasurer – Dora spoke of going to Sinai Warren at Hayling Island next week, and the proposed dated for 2018.  As majority rules it is necessary to put your name on the sign-up sheet or email your preference to Dora.

Register and MCS – Jen asked for the membership to ensure that they sign in at each meeting and to update her of address changes.

The activity
This evening we had a talk by Mo Obadina on Knowing me, Knowing you.  Mo spoke eloquently on the importance of communication.  A lot of fun was had doing the ‘speed chats on holidays’.  Although it was lovely to get to know other members, it was at times difficult to hear what was being said.  The bell ringing was the cause of much amusement.  The vote of thanks was given by Jo Bance.

Thanks to Sandra who gave the birthday wishes out and to Liz for making the birthday cards.
Thanks to Lorna and Liz for doing the raffle. 

Many thanks to Joyce, Janet, and Victoria for doing the teas this evening. Also thank you to Carole who donated the muffins and Wendy for sharing the beautifully decorated Ingrebourne cake she won at the Spring Group meeting.  It was lovely to have Kathy to cut the cake that she had made!     

Craft groups – Back to usual with the exception of Dora’s as she will be at Sinai Warren. 
New Craft Group - Victoria would like to start a new card craft making group, there are 4 spaces available.  The proposed time would be the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays from 1.30 – 3.30pm.  There would be a nominal cost of £1 per session.
Book – 12th July 2017 at 7.30 pm in the Community Room at Tesco in Goodmayes.   Please contact Alison for more details.  The current book is Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.
Coffee club – Oasis Café at Valance House, 3rd Wednesday of the month 1.30 – 3.30pm        (21st July)
Singing group - Beacontree Methodist church, 7 - 8.30pm 1st and 3rd Monday of the month.   Next meeting on 19th July. 
Cinema – Liz will be emailing about the next film. 
Walking – There is not a walk planned for June as Janet, Jackie and Jo are doing the Race for Life 5K walk on 24th June at Victoria Park at Mile End, many thanks for sponsoring us.

Theatre –The Barking Music and Drama group are presenting Hello Dolly at the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford.  From Thursday 8th – Saturday 10th June at 7:30pm (there is a Saturday matinee at 3pm too).   Tickets range from £12 to £15.  Please contact the box office on 020 85534466.

Events – On Saturday 15th July at 2pm Sheila will be holding her garden party.  A minimum donation of £4 is required.  The address is 18 Hurstbourne Gardens, Barking IG11 9UX.  Telephone 020 8594 6250.  Please contact her directly for more information.

We need ideas of inspirational and educational ways to spend our funds.  Please either email your ideas to or bring them with you to the July meeting.

This was followed by a membership led discussion on wanting to find solutions to the various issues. 

·         Could we spend some of our money on a PA system?
·         Lack of storage at Eastbury Manor House
·         Fewer people on the Committee means more needs to be carried by less people.
·         Could we have a Storage Unit? Eg Big Yellow Box or Access Self Storage?
·         Cost of storage and who would be responsible for the to-ing and fro-ing of the things?
·         Would the membership consider a change of night for the monthly meeting?
·         30 out of 48 said that they would be happy to change venues.
·         Could we change the time that we meet?

Please bring your suggestions and any research to the July meeting?

Next meeting will be on 5th July 2017.  The speaker is Kathrin Bohm and the talk is on Foraging for Health.


Eirlys welcomed 44 members and WI Adviser June Ward and Fiona, President of RM1.  June gave a brief introduction to the meeting and promoted the 2017 Centenary Autumn County Annual Meeting which is taking place on Friday 13th October at The Civic Hall, Grays (RM16 2JU) from 10 am to 3pm.  Please see Jo for more information.

Annual Meeting
Treasurer – Dora presented the Financial statement.  There was a query about the unclaimed bursary, this will be discussed further at the June WI meeting.  This was seconded and a show of hands was given.

Secretary – Jo presented the Annual Review. In which she thanked group leaders - Liz, Dora, Becki, Bonnie, Cheryl, Margaret, Janet and Frances; and monthly meeting contributors Lorna, Sandra and Liz as well as the members who volunteer to make the teas and donate cake and biscuits.

President – Eirlys presented the President’s Address.  In which she thanked Dora, Victoria and Mo for all of their hard work and support as they are not standing for this year’s Committee.

Eirlys stood down as President and June Ward WIA ran the meeting.

There were five nominations to stand on the new Committee, therefore the new Committee is Paulette, Bonnie, Jo, Eirlys and Jen.

A member’s ballot was held and each Committee member was asked if they would like to stand for President, the result of that was that our new President is Paulette. 

There were lovely bouquets of flowers presented to June and Fiona by Eirlys.  Then Eirlys received a beautiful bouquet of blue and cream flowers.

Ingrebourne 2017 – Many are looking forward to the Ingrebourne Spring Event on Saturday 6th May from 6 – 9pm at Heathlands, Heathway, Dagenham.   A special thank you to Bonnie and her subcommittee for all of their hard work. 

Thanks to Sandra who gave the birthday wishes out and to Liz for making the birthday cards.
Thanks to Lorna for doing the raffle. 
Many thanks to Joanne and Elizabeth for doing the teas this evening. Also thank you to those who donated biscuits and cakes.   

Resolution 1 (Loneliness) unanimous Yes.
Resolution 2 (Plastic soup) unanimous Yes.
Eirlys will be taking these results to the AGM in Liverpool in June.

Show and Tell
Louise brought along a photograph of Philip Schofield which was a lovely reminder of a day out in Cambridge.
Jackie had us all singing ‘Pop goes the weasel’ while she demonstrated Irish Dancing.
Sandra showed us a publicity poster for her relative’s Elvis tribute act which is at the Eastbrook pub on Friday 12th May.
Rachael held up her beautiful embroidery.

Craft groups – Back to usual.
Book – 31st May 2017 at 7.30 pm, please contact Alison for more details.  The current books are ‘Sense of an ending’ by Julian Barns and ‘27th Kingdom by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Coffee club – Oasis Café at Valance House, 3rd Wednesday of the month 1.30 – 3.30pm        (17th May)
Singing group - Beacontree Methodist church, 7 - 8.30pm 1st and 3rd Monday of the month.   
Cinema – Liz will be emailing about the next film. 
Walking - The walk along the canals of London on 29th April was a great success and the weather was fabulous.  Please contact Janet on or text her on 07952575968 for more details.
There is a Race for Life on 24th June at Victoria Park at Mile End.  Janet, Jackie and Jo are going to take part in this.  Would anyone like to join them?

Theatre –The Barking Music and Drama group are presenting Hello Dolly at the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford.  From Thursday 8th – Saturday 10th June at 7:30pm (there is a Saturday matinee at 3pm too).   Tickets range from £12 to £15.  Please contact the box office on 020 85534466.

Event – The Eastbrookend Country Fair is on Sunday 18th June – there are still spaces available for those who would like to help.

Trip – To Hampton Court on a Sunday in August – sign-up sheet available.

The leaflets for the Bulb Scheme were available, however there was no interest in them.  Raffle tickets for NFWI and FEWI were available and some members bought them.
Thank you for the donations of bags and broken jewellery etc for the Diverse Essex Event at Essex Fed in July.  The de-cluttering bag will be available next month for more donations!

We need ideas of inspirational and educational ways to spend our funds.  Please either email your ideas to or bring them with you to the June meeting.

We would like to thank Eirlys for her brilliant leadership and gentle guidance over the last three years. 

Next meeting will be on 7th June 2017.  

Eirlys welcomed 51 members and guests.  Eirlys mentioned the possible dates of 29th June and 6th July for going to see the new musical The Girls, there was a sign-up sheet available.

Committee updates
Secretary – Jo mentioned the next Tea Rota which will be handed round at the next meeting as well as on the front table tonight.  There was also a sheet to sign up for stewarding at the Essex Fed Show on 7th and 8th July in Hatfield Peverel.  Thank you for collecting used postage stamps for Hearing Dogs for the Deaf, a large bag were given to Debbie this evening.  The raffle tickets for NFWI and FEWI, both at £1 each are still for sale.

Treasurer – Dora informed the membership that we passed the financial inspection with flying colours.   Many thanks for all the hard work done in preparing the books by Dora and Bonnie.

Ingrebourne 2017 – Bonnie said about the Ingrebourne Group spring event tickets there are 6 left and if none of our members were interested, then they would be passed onto RM1 WI.  Bonnie collected and showed the Easter Chicks for St Francis’ Hospice, they will be sent on soon.  Thank you to all who made them.

The activity
This evening we had a talk by Brian Carline on the Days of Dolly Blue and Izal.  Brian was a very entertaining and clear speaker, who received a lot of laughter from his anecdotes.  Fancy using pigeon feathers and flypaper to make a red indian headdress.  Good heavens or words to that effect! Lots of our members remember Friday night being bath night and nit night!    The vote of thanks was given by Victoria.

Thanks to Alison who gave the birthday wishes out and to Liz for making the birthday cards.
Thanks to Lorna and Liz for doing the raffle. 
Many thanks to Sue, Lilly, and Christine for doing the teas this evening. Also thank you to those who donated biscuits and cakes.   

Craft groups – Back to usual.
The heirloom tablecloth – some new members have expressed wanting to embroider their leaves to be added to the tablecloth.  Dora has some packs available. 
Twiddle Muffs – Bev has done a beautiful twiddle mat which is on Facebook. 

Book – 19th April 2017 at 7.30 pm, please contact Margaret for more details.  The current book is Everything everything by Nicola Yoon.

Coffee club – Oasis Café at Valance House, 3rd Wednesday of the month 1.30 – 3.30pm        (19th April)

Singing group - Beacontree Methodist church, 7 - 8.30pm 1st and 3rd Monday of the month.   Next meeting on 10th April. 

Cinema – Liz will be emailing about the next film. 

Walking - The walk around Kensington on 25th March was a great success and the weather was fabulous.
The next WI walk is on Saturday 29th April and meeting at 10.30 am at Barking Station.  This walk will be along the canals of London.  Please contact Janet on or text her on 07952575968 for more details.

There is a Race for Life on 24th June at Victoria Park at Mile End.  Janet and Jo are going to take part in this.  Would anyone like to join us?

Theatre – Gill is arranging two trips to the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford Theatre – Agatha Christie's whodunit Murder on the Nile.  Friday 21 April at 7:30 Tickets are £11 for adults and £10 for seniors.  Please contact Gill on

Events – Victoria spoke about the new date for the trip to the Royal Chelsea Hospital, Tuesday 11th April – there are still 3 spaces available.

The leaflets for the Bulb Scheme will be available next month as well.

We need ideas of inspirational and educational ways to spend our funds.  Please either email your ideas to or bring them with you to the May meeting.

Thank you for the donations of bags and broken jewellery etc for the Diverse Essex Event at Essex Fed in July.  The de-cluttering bag will be available next month for more donation!

This was then followed by Victoria, Mo and Jen speaking about their roles on the Committee.  Dora and Eirlys spoke of the need for members to think about our AM next month and submitting nominations for the next Committee.

Next meeting will be on 3rd May 2017.  We have our Annual Meeting and Resolutions.

Eirlys welcomed 47 members and guests.  Eirlys showed the certificate she received from the Food Bank.  There will be committee changes at the next AGM in May.  She also talked about how much the First Ladies have evolved as a group over the last 6 years.

Committee updates

Secretary – Jo mentioned the theatre trips that Gill is organising to the Kenneth More Theatre.  Collecting used postage stamps for Hearing Dogs for the Deaf.  As well as the raffle tickets for NFWI and FEWI, both at £1 each.

Treasurer – Dora thanked the members for completing their Gift Aid forms, we have got about £304 back!   

Register – Jen requested that all members and visitors sign in at the beginning of the meeting.

Ingrebourne 2017 – Bonnie said about the Ingrebourne Group spring event tickets and the fact that the First Ladies ones will probably be subject to a ballot depending on the number of our members who express an interest.  The event is on 6th May 2017.  The committee officers, Eirlys, Dora and Jo received their tickets for the evening with thanks.

Bonnie – Showed the Easter Chick which she has made for St Francis’ Hospice, knitting and crocheting patterns are available.

Paulette – Thanked the members for suggestions about speakers and that they are currently going into a folder.

Mo – Mentioned about Facebook and members clicking ‘like’ on things.

The activity
This evening we had a talk by Peter Railton on Gardening News.  Peter was a very good and clear speaker and supported by his wife Kathy.  They covered the subject of different rooms within the garden.  The majority of plants were Daphnes.   It was interesting to see that bees love Verbena plants.  He suggested that when doing gardening it is important to take photographs before, during and after so that progress can been seen.  The slide that made us laugh the most was the one of the old Henry Hoover used as a flower pot.  The presentation was accompanied by excellent photography.  The vote of thanks was given by Eirlys.

Anyone interested in joining Green-Fingers Gardening Club, who meet at Heathlands, Heathway, Dagenham on the last Monday of each month from 7.30 – 9.30 pm.  Any enquiries to Peter and Kathy Railton on 0751 3940905 or email The next meetings are on 27th March and 24th April when there will be plants for sale.

Thanks to Sandra who gave the birthdays wishes out.  Fancy three of our members sharing the same birthday.

Thanks to Lorna and Liz for doing the raffle. 

Many thanks to Sue, Carole, and Jackie for doing the teas this evening. Also thank you to those who donated biscuits and cakes.   


Craft groups – Back to usual.
The heirloom tablecloth is absolutely beautiful and was unveiled at the meeting, many members took photographs.  Many thanks for the initial group who came up with the ideas and to all those who took part in the sewing and embroidery.  Many thanks to Dora for storing it so carefully!

Twiddle Muffs – Bev bought a selection of beautiful twiddle muffs in different styles to hopefully inspire our members to have a go at making one.

Book – 8th March 2017 please contact Margaret for more details.  The current book is The trouble with goats and sheep by Joanna Cannon.

Coffee club – Oasis Café at Valance House, 3rd Wednesday of the month 1.30 – 3.30pm        (15th March)

Singing group - Becontree Methodist church, 7 - 8.30pm 1st and 3rd Monday of the month.   Next meeting on 6th March.  Thanks go to Cheryl and Carol who have visited Bennetts Castle Care Home with a view that the singing group entertain the residents occasionally.

Cinema – Liz will be emailing about the next film. 

Theatre – Gill is arranging two trips to the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford Theatre – The 'Big Spender' musical hit Sweet Charity.  Friday 17 March at 7:30.  Tickets are £16 for adults and £15 for seniors.
Agatha Christie's whodunit Murder on the Nile.  Friday 21 April at 7:30 Tickets are £11 for adults and £10 for seniors.
Please contact Gill on

Events – Victoria spoke about the new date for the trip to the Royal Chelsea Hospital, Tuesday 11th April.

At the end of the meeting the Bursary was drawn from a hat, the winner was Debbie.  A second ticket was drawn and that was Sade.

This was then followed by the Committee each speaking very briefly about their roles and the need for the members to think about our AGM on 3rd May and possibly  nominations for standing in the next Committee.

Next meeting will be on 5th April 2017.  We have Brian Carline talking about Days of Dolly Blue and Izal. 

Eirlys welcomed 51 members and guests.
Committee updates
Secretary – Thank you to the ladies who have volunteered to do the teas in April.  Jackie did the First Aid course in January and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Treasurer – Dora thanked the members for paying to remaining subscriptions.   The heirloom tablecloth is absolutely beautiful and will be unveiled at our next meeting, please remember your cameras!
Dora asked the members permission for the committee to meet once a month at Becontree Methodist Hall at a cost of £25.  The motion was passed by the majority of the members present raising their hands.  There were no questions.

Ingrebourne 2017 – Bonnie has a sub-committee in place for the Ingrebourne Group spring event on 6th May 2017.
Further to enquires at our meeting, The WIs in Essex are split up into groups of 5 or 6 WIs, each group of WIs is then given a name.  Our group name is Ingrebourne.  Traditionally each group takes it in turns to hold an event, usually in the spring.  This will be our first time hosting the Ingrebourne Group Event.  Bonnie has worked very hard to organise an evening of fun for us all.

The activity
This evening we had a talk by London Air Ambulance.  The speaker was Alex who spoke with the confidence of a 19 year old and he was very entertaining too.  The London Air Ambulance was established in 1989 and aims to get a doctor and a paramedic to an incident as fast as possible.  In 2015 the London Air Ambulance were sent to 57 incidents in Barking and Dagenham.  The volunteers sold over £100 of merchandise and received £87 in donations from our ladies.  The volunteers appreciated the tea break and thoroughly enjoyed the homemade cakes.  The vote of thanks was given by Gizelle.

Sandra gave the birthdays wishes out.  Eirlys received a large birthday card!

Lorna and Liz did the raffle.  

Many thanks to Cheryl, Maureen, and Val for doing the teas this evening. Also thank you to those who donated biscuits and cakes.   


Craft groups – Back to usual.

Book – 8th March 2017 please contact Margaret for more details.  The current book is The trouble with goats and sheep by Joanna Cannon.

Coffee club – Oasis Café at Valance House, 3rd Wednesday of the month 1.30 – 3.30pm        (15th February)

Walking – Congratulations go to Marie and many thanks for organising the walks over the years!  Janet has kindly volunteered to take over the baton on organising the walks, her email address is and the next walk is on Tuesday 14th February meeting at 12.45pm at Barking station, by the coffee shop. The tour is an hour and costs £7. We will find somewhere to have tea afterwards.  The walk is a trip to Mansion House.

Singing group - Becontree Methodist church, 7 - 8.30pm 1st and 3rd Monday of the month.   

Cinema – Liz will be emailing about the next film. 

Theatre – Gill is arranging two trips to the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford Theatre – The 'Big Spender' musical hit Sweet Charity.  Friday 17 March at 7:30.  Tickets are £16 for adults and £15 for seniors.
Agatha Christie's whodunit Murder on the Nile.  Friday 21 April at 7:30 Tickets are £11 for adults and £10 for seniors.
Please contact Gill on

Events – Victoria is arranging a trip to Chelsea Hospital on Monday 10th April.

Next meeting will be on 1st March 2017.  We have Peter Railton from the Gardening News coming to give us a talk. 

Eirlys welcomed 47 members and guests and wished everyone a ‘Happy New Year!’
Committee updates
Secretary – The emailed information sheets appear to be a success.  With positive feedback for the information given prior to the monthly meeting and the emailed blog after.

Treasurer – Dora thanked the members for remembering to pay their subscriptions.

Programme – First Aid course, please see Paulette for more information.

Ingrebourne 2017 – Bonnie has asked for volunteers for a sub-committee for the spring event on 6th May 2017.

The activity
This evening we had two very good talks delivered by local ladies.  The first was from Jocelyn from Redbridge Foodbank (based at Jubilee Church, Cranbrook Road, near Valentine’s Park in Ilford).  The talk she gave was very thought provoking and she appreciated the donations made by our members.  The second was Cllr Sade Bright on the equalities and cohesion strategies in the Local Authority.  The votes of thanks were given by Eirlys.  Further information on both of these talks is available from Jo.

Resolutions 2017
The voting was conducted this evening and the results from our ballot will be given to Essex WI.  The results were as follows:
Alleviating loneliness 20;  
FGM:  More awareness and more action 4;   
Equal access for all who need specialised mental health services 7; 
Provision of appropriate welfare and safe spaces for women and children in refugee camps 3; 
Supporting women’s refuges 9; 
Plastic soup:  Keep microplastic fibres out of our oceans 3.

Sandra gave the birthdays wishes out.

Lorna and Carol did the raffle.  The proceeds from this evening’s raffle will be donated to our charity Barking and Dagenham Carers.

Many thanks to Sue, Gill, and Carole for doing the teas this evening. Thank you to those who donated biscuits and cakes.   


Craft groups – Back to usual.

Book – 25th January 2017 please contact Margaret for more details.

Coffee club – Oasis Café at Valance House, 3rd Wednesday of the month 1.30 – 3.30pm        (18th January)

Walking – No walks planned at the moment.

Singing group - Becontree Methodist church, 7 - 8.30pm 1st and 3rd Monday of the month.   Resuming on Monday 9th January 2017.

Cinema – Liz will be emailing about the next film. 

Theatre – Gill is arranging a trip to the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford on Friday 3rd February 2017 to see Season’s Greetings by Alan Ayckbourn.

Next meeting will be on 1st February 2017.  We have London Air Ambulance coming to give us a talk.  We will also be having the draw for our bursary to Denman College.

Eirlys welcomed 43 members and guests. 
At the January meeting we have invited a local Food Bank to our meeting.  Donations are needed of tinned foods and toiletries, your help will be much appreciated!

Committee updates

Secretary – Please could the members read the emails sent out during the month as there is a lot of information about WI events and activities as well as some in the community.

If you have a few minutes to spare please could you make a 'twiddle muff' to be given to an adult day centre who meet up at Heathlands at Dagenham Heathway.  This is the venue we will be using for the Ingrebourne Group Spring Event in 2017. 

There is a new Sewing workshop in Collier Row (on the 175 bus route from Dagenham) for more information please contact Brenda on 07939 661786.

Ladies Tea served in cups and saucers! - Taking place on Mondays between 1.30 and 2.30pm at Bethel Christian Centre, 170 Bennetts Castle Lane.  Next dates December 5th and December 19th.  Many thanks to Janet for finding this.

Community Crochet - Every Friday at Valance House Cafe, from 1.30pm to 3pm.  All abilities welcome. 

Local Charities Day is on Friday, 16 December 2016 at the Ripple Centre (121-125 Ripple Road, Barking IG11 7FN) and runs from 10.00am to 3.00pm.

We have received pretty Christmas cards from Brentwood Belles WI and Harold Wood (evening) WI, cards have been sent to them on behalf of our membership.

Treasurer – Bonnie will be handed out membership and gift aid forms ready for our annual subscription in January.  Full member subs will be £39 and dual membership £19.

WI Christmas Dinner - Friday 9th December 2016 at the Pipe Major (Dagenham East), meeting at 7pm for 7.30pm.  Please bring the balance of £11.50, in the right change on the night to make life easier for Cheryl and Carol. 

The activity
This evening we had a Christmas Social evening led by Eirlys.  The quiz was prepared by Mo.  The quiz was won by Christine and she received a lovely box of Ferro Rocher chocolates.  Mo is our Vice President and gave a talk about her background and life as well as her work and book (Unleash Your Business Mojo by Mo Obadina).

The auction of beautifully knitted festive toys made and donated by Joyce raised £29.75 for our charity Barking and Dagenham Carers.

The choir lead us in singing some Christmas carols and Jerusalem. 

Alison gave the birthdays wishes out.

Liz did the raffle.

At teatime, it is with grateful thanks to Joanne, Elizabeth, and Nicola who did the teas.  The snowflake biscuits were made by Joanne.  Thank you to those who donated biscuits and cakes as well.   Thanks need to go to Eirlys for making the lovely mulled apple juice.


Craft groups – Please check craft leaders for meetings over the festive period.  There are still 2 spaces in Bonnie’s craft group, which is held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month from 7 – 9pm.  

Book – 25th January 2017 please contact Margaret for more details.  The current book is Exposure by Helen Dunmore.

Coffee club – Oasis Café at Valance House, 3rd Wednesday of the month 1.30 – 3.30pm        (21st December).

Walking – Janet is going to lead a walk in January or February to Mansion House, it will be on a Tuesday afternoon.  Contact Janet by email on

Singing group - Becontree Methodist church, 7 - 8.30pm 1st and 3rd Monday of the month.   The choir performed on Saturday 3rd December at Valance House.  Many thanks to those who came and supported us in the Christmas Carol singing!  Next meeting is on 9th January.

Cinema – Liz will be emailing about the next film. 

Next meeting will be on 4th January 2017.  It is annual subscription time!
Full membership is £39 and Dual membership is £19.
Please make cheques payable to FIRST LADIES (BARKING & DAGENHAM) WI

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Eirlys welcomed 53 members and guests. 

Committee updates

Secretary –
If you wish to be added to the Cinema group emailing list, please could you email with the subject heading of CINEMA. 

If you have a few minutes to spare please could you make a 'twiddle muff' to be given to an adult day centre who meet up at Heathlands at Dagenham Heathway.  This is the venue we will be using for the Ingrebourne Group Spring Event in 2017. 

The choir will be performing on Saturday 3rd December at 12.45 pm at Valance House.  Please come and support your choir and join in the Christmas Carol singing!

Treasurer – Dora announced the good news that we are now a charity in our own right. It took some paper work and time but we now comply with the HMRC guidelines re income. It doesn't change anything we do.
Dora will be handing out membership and gift aid forms next meeting ready for our annual subscription in January.  Full member subs will be £39 and dual membership £19.
Dora also reminded the meeting about the opportunity to increase our funding via the following.
Thank you to all those members who already subscribe.

Did you know that whenever you buy anything online - from your weekly shop to your annual holiday - you could be collecting free donations for First Ladies (Barking and Dagenham) WI?
There are over 3,000 shops and sites on board ready to make a donation, including Amazon, John Lewis, Aviva, thetrainline and Sainsbury's – it doesn't cost you a penny extra!
It's as easy as 1, 2, 3...
1. Head to and join for free.
2. Every time you shop online, go to easyfundraising first to find the site you want and start shopping.
3. After you’ve checked out, that retailer will make a donation to your good cause for no extra cost whatsoever!
There are no catches or hidden charges and First Ladies (Barking and Dagenham) WI will be really grateful for your donations.

Events – From Essex Federation
Date – Wednesday 16th November
Time – 2.30 – 4.30, including guided tour and Afternoon Tea at the Tiptree Tea Rooms.
Venue - The Village, Barleylands, Billericay CM11 2UD
Cost – This event is completely free of charge 
To reserve your place and find out more about this free event, please contact Jenny Sparkes on 01268 290213 or email

Christmas Joy Mystery Ride – Tuesday 15th November, there is no walking, stops will be made for coffee and lunch.  Picking up at Faircross at 10am.  Cost of the coach is £15.  Please contact Chris on 07762 465068 or 0208 471 8460

Christmas Memories at Broadway Theatre in Barking on Sunday 6th November at 3pm.  Tickets cost £12 and £10 for concessions.  Box office 020 8507 5607

Cockermouth WI – Thank you for knitting and crocheting 64 poppies for Cockermouth WI, Victoria will be posting them in the next few days.

Theatre – Barking MAD are presenting Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves at the Ripple Centre in Barking.  Thursday 1st Dec – Sat 3rd Dec.  Thurs, Fri and Sat evening 7.30pm and Sat matinee at 3pm.  Box office 07947108234 or Tickets cost £10 and concession price is £8.

WI Christmas Dinner - Friday 9th December 2016 at the Pipe Major (Dagenham East), meeting at 7pm for 7.30pm.  Please bring the balance of £11.50, in the right change  on the night to make life easier for Cheryl and Carol. 

The activity
This evening we had a Christmas craft evening led by Bonnie.  There were two participating groups and some beautiful Christmas door wreaths and table centres were made.  The vote of thanks was given by Jo.

Sandra gave the birthdays wishes out.

Lorna did the raffle.

At teatime, it is with grateful thanks to Louise, Janice, and Monica who did the teas.  The lovely cakes were made by Joanne and Carole.  Thank you to those who donated biscuits as well.   


Craft groups – All craft groups are back to normal!  There are still 2 spaces in Bonnie’s craft group, which is held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month from 7 – 9pm.  

Book – 4th November 2016 please contact Margaret for more details. 
The current book is Exposure by Helen Dunmore.

Coffee club – Oasis Café at Valance House, 3rd Wednesday of the month 1.30 – 3.30pm        (16th November)

Walking – Marie is leading a walk ‘Christmas Tree Festival’ on Saturday 3rd December meeting at WH Smiths at Upminster station at 10.30 am.  If you are interested please contact her on

Singing group - Becontree Methodist church, 7 - 8.30pm 1st and 3rd Monday of the month.   The choir will be performing on Saturday 3rd December at 12.45 pm at Valance House.

Cinema – Liz will be emailing about the next film. 

Theatre – Gill has arranged for a group to go to see Blithe Spirit on 5th November at the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford.

Next meeting will be on 7th December 2016.  We are having a Christmas social evening.

Eirlys welcomed 47 members and guests. 
There is now a space on the Sinah Warren November 2016 weekend (18th – 21st November).  Please contact Eirlys if you wish to go!

Committee updates

Secretary – The Essex News magazine will cost £3.84 for the year.  If you wish to continue your subscription for next year and pay Bonnie.  If you would like to sign up to receive the Essex News, this is your opportunity!

Annual Carol Service at Chelmsford Cathedral on Tuesday 6th December 2016.  At 2.30pm and 7.30pm.  Cost is £5.  This event is open to friends and family as well.  Please contact Jo at the October meeting.  The closing date is 4th November.

There is an INTER-WI quiz.  It takes place all over Essex, the preliminary rounds will take place in April, May and June 2017 and the final usually takes place in late June or early July.  The cost of the team is £12.  (teams consist of 6-8 members).  The deadline for registering a team is 29th November 2016.  Please note that there will be a lot of travelling involved in getting to the various venues.   So far we have 1 person interested!

WInsome Club is a little Lottery flutter.  It costs £12 per year.  Total prize money of £1400 is distributed each year.   Closing date 8th November.

If you have a few minutes to spare please could you make a 'twiddle muff' to be given to an adult day centre who meet up at Heathlands at Dagenham Heathway.  This is the venue we will be using for the Ingrebourne Group Spring Event in 2017. 

Treasurer – Bonnie asked for the monies for the Christmas Craft next month to be paid, if anyone missed out, please could you contact her directly on Although this is a subsidised activity each participating member will need to contribute £5. 

Events – There are 4 ladies looking forward to the trip to the "Sunken Cities" exhibition at the British Museum on Tuesday 11th October 2016, they will be meeting at the museum at 11.30am. 
There is the opportunity to visit some William Morris exhibitions in Walthamstow in the future, please sign up with Victoria.

Programme – First Aid course with the British Heart Foundation may take place on a Tuesday evening, please see Paulette for more information.

Cockermouth WI – We are now twinned with Cockermouth WI, they are in Cumbria.  If you are interested in either knitting or crocheting poppies for them, please could you give them to Victoria at the November meeting.

The activity
This evening we had a very entertaining and funny talk from Mark Watson about ‘How to die in Barking and how to go on holiday in Dagenham!’  Fancy there being a Cockermouth Manor in our Borough.  He really is one of our favourite speakers and we are looking forward to the next time he comes to see us!  The vote of thanks was given by Frances.

Sandra gave the birthdays wishes out.

Lorna did the raffle.

Cheryl and Carol worked hard doing the deposits and receipts for The First Ladies Christmas Dinner to be held on Friday 9th December 2016 at the Pipe Major (Dagenham East), meeting at 7pm for 7.30pm.  The non-refundable deposits of £5 should have been paid and the balance of £11.50 on the day. 

At teatime, it is with grateful thanks to Viv, Tracey, and Diane who did the teas with no prior notice.  Thank you to those who donated biscuits.   


Craft groups – please be aware that there may be changes to some of Dora’s craft groups, Becki’s next group will be held at Bonnie’s.  

Book – 4th November 2016 please contact Margaret for more details.

Coffee club – Oasis Café at Valance House, 3rd Wednesday of the month 1.30 – 3.30pm        (21st September)

Walking – Janet is leading a walk ‘Plague, Fire and Revolution’ on Tuesday 25th October meeting at Barking station at 1pm.  If you are interested please contact her on

Singing group - Becontree Methodist church, 7 - 8.30pm 1st and 3rd Monday of the month.

Cinema – Liz will be emailing about the next film. 

Theatre – Barking MAD are presenting Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves at the Ripple Centre in Barking.  Thursday 1st Dec – Sat 3rd Dec.  Thurs, Fri and Sat evening 7.30pm and Sat matinee at 3pm.  Box office 07947108234 or Tickets cost £10 and concession price is £8.

A letter of thanks was sent to Doreen Golding (Pearly Queen for Old Kent Road and Bow Bells) for the invitation to attend the Costermongers Harvest Festival on 25th September.  So many of us had a wonderful day out! 

Next meeting will be on 2nd November 2016.  We have a Christmas Craft evening.

Eirlys welcomed 51 members and guests 

Committee updates

Secretary – the information for The Costermongers Harvest Festival (Sunday 25th September 2016) Assemble in Guildhall Yard, London EC2 2EJ at 1pm.  Traditional entertainment from 1.30pm.  Service at St Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside EC2V 6AU at 3pm.  This event is also open to your family and friends.  An RSVP was sent to Doreen Golding (Pearly Queen of Old Kent Road and Bow Bells).

Treasurer – Dora reminded us all to use when shopping online.  The raffled cake at Valance House on 27th August made nearly £30 profit. 

Events – Many thanks to Victoria for organising the stall at the Vintage Sports Day at Valance House on 27th August.  Thanks to Jo for making and decorating a light and fluffy Victoria sponge cake! The choir finished the event brilliantly and were invited back at Christmas!

Publicity - no update 

Programme – Idea and Suggestion sheets were put out on all tables.

Registration and MCS – no update

The activity
This evening we had a very entertaining talk from Pater Lazell about his time on the beat.  He had a lot of amusing anecdotes from his 30 years in the Essex Police.  The vote of thanks was given by Jo.

Sandra gave the birthdays wishes out.

Lorna did the raffle.

Thanks to Rachael, Frances, and Brenda who did the teas.  Thank you to those who donated cakes.   

Christmas Dinner
Friday 9th December – Pipe Major – 7pm for 7.30pm.  Cost £16.50 non-refundable deposit of £5 at the October meeting please.  Thanks to Cheryl, Carol and Sheila for organising it. 

Trip to "Sunken Cities" exhibition at the British Museum. Tuesday 11th October 2016 meeting at the museum at 11.30am.  The entrance price is £16.50, plus £1.00 booking fee. Victoria has now booked the tickets for this trip, however if you would like to attend with the WI ladies going, then please book your own ticket and meet us there.

The Cheese and Wine event at WI Centre on Thursday 6th October has been booked. 

Baking - on hold.

Craft groups – please be aware that there may be changes to some of Dora’s craft groups, Becki’s and Bonnie’s continue as normal.  

Dora has delivered 24 Trauma teddy bears in their individual bags to Romford Police Station, they were very grateful.

Bev showed us several of the Twiddle Muffs which different people have made.  They are going to be given to the Adult Day Centre at Heathlands in Dagenham Heathway.

Tablecloth – no update

Book – 20th September 2016 at Margaret’s.

Coffee club – Oasis Café at Valance House, 3rd Wednesday of the month 1.30 – 3.30pm        (21st September)

Walking – no update

Singing group - Becontree Methodist church, 7 - 8.30pm 1st and 3rd Monday of the month.

Cinema – Liz will be emailing about the next film. 

Theatre – no update

Board games – no update 

Collectors – no update

A letter has been received from Macmillan Cancer Support for the Afternoon Tea Party which Sheila held, made an amazing £472. 

Photographs - Mo took some photographs at the meeting. 

Some members made a passionate request that we should all show more respect for speakers and that members should not speak when the speaker is speaking.  This was agreed by the members as being the right thing to do.

Next meeting will be on 5th October 2016.  We have Mark Watson to speak to us about ‘Epidemics and diseases’.

Eirlys welcomed 43 members and guests 
Thanks to Cheryl for bringing her PA system along with the microphone.

Committee updates
Secretary – Jo asked if anyone wanting to buy a WI 2017 diary costing £4.50 to please contact her.
Treasurer – Eastbrookend Country Fayre made £199.30.  The cost of the stall was £25. 
Events – Many thanks to Victoria for organising the event at Eastbrookend Country Fayre on 26th June from 10 am to 4 pm.  The donations of baked goods sold very well (£147.30), the tombola was very popular too (£52.00). It was lovely to have so many volunteers helping on the stall.
Publicity - no update 
Programme – Idea and Suggestion sheets were put out on all tables.
Registration and MCS – Our best wishes go to Jen who has broken her foot.  We wish you a speedy and pain free recovery.

The activity
The evening was a broach making craft session was a success.  Although we did have a fire drill evacuation at the start of the making session.  Thanks to Eirlys, Bonnie and Colin for that!  There were some lovely photographs taken of the broaches.  There were some beautiful sewing boxes which people brought with them.  Thanks to Dora and Jo for putting the equipment together and to Victoria for bringing her cutting machine along. 

Sandra gave the birthdays wishes out, which included Bridget’s special 70th birthday card!

Gizelle and Carol did the raffle.

Thanks to Joanne, Nicola, and Elizabeth who did the teas.  It would be lovely to have more cakes or biscuits at meetings, it seems that everyone forgot or was too busy this month!   

Baking - on hold.
Craft groups - please check with your craft group hosts for summer dates. 
Tablecloth is progressing and the last meeting was on Tuesday 31st May.
Book – 27th July 2016 at Eirlys’.
Coffee club - 3rd Wednesday month 1pm

Walking – Tuesday 19th July at 10.30am.  Meet at Raphael’s Park (174 bus from Dagenham Heathway)

Singing group - Becontree Methodist church, 7-8.30pm 1st and 3rd Monday of the month. Please support our gig at Valance House on August 27th at 4pm.

Cinema – Liz will be emailing about the next film. 
Theatre – no update
Board games – no update 
Collectors – no update

2016 Essex Festival of Food and Drink – 16 and 17 July, 10 am – 5pm.  At Cressing Temple Barns (between Witham and Braintree) CM77 8PD.  Tickets are available from £7 from

We wish Tracey Grant good luck with her 10 mile walk for Breast Cancer on 9th July. 

The tea party in aid of Macmillan Nurses which Sheila held, made an amazing £467. 

Photographs - Mo took some photographs at the meeting. 

Next meeting will be on 6th September 2016.  We have Peter Lazell to speak to us about ‘My time on the beat’.




Eirlys welcomed 54 members and guests 

Committee updates

President - Eirlys introduced the new committee with their roles. 

Secretary – Jo asked if anyone wanting to subscribe to the Essex News magazine to contact her.

Treasurer – no update

Events – Victoria is organising the next event which will be Eastbrookend Country Fayre on 26th June from 10 am to 4 pm.  All donations of baked goods will be welcomed and there are still some spaces for members to volunteer to help on the stall.

Publicity - no update 

Programme - no update

Registration and MCS - tell Jen if any details change.

Our speaker was Elisa Spampinto who gave us a brief history of T’ai Chi and then we had a demonstration of how to use T’ai Chi.  The Chi-kung movements we were taught are used in Chinese medicine.  T’ai Chi is about channelling energy to our organs, making our bodies more graceful and improving posture as well as concentrating the mind.  The majority of our members took part and enjoyed a fun evening learning new skills. Many thanks to Gizelle for giving the vote of thanks.

The WI resolutions for Appropriate care in hospitals and The avoidance of food waste were voted for by a show of hands and both resolutions were found to be FOR. 

Alison spoke gave the birthdays wishes out.

Lorna did the raffle.

Thanks to Joanne, Nicola, and Elizabeth who did the tea rota and have volunteered to do it in July as well!  Many thanks to the ladies who made the lovely bread pudding and pretty cupcakes.


Baking - on hold.

Craft groups are as normal. 

Tablecloth is progressing well and the last meeting was on Tuesday 31st May.

Book – 8th June 2016 at Margaret's.

Coffee club - 3rd Wednesday month 1pm

Walking – no update

Singing group - Becontree Methodist church, 7-8.30pm 1st and 3rd Monday of the month. Please support our gig at Valance House on June 18th at 12 noon.
Cinema – Liz will be emailing at the end on June about the next film. 
Theatre – Singing in the Rain at Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford, 9th – 11th June.
Board games – no update 
Collectors – no update

2016 Essex Festival of Food and Drink – 16 and 17 July, 10 am – 5pm.  At Cressing Temple Barns (between Witham and Braintree) CM77 8PD.  Tickets are available from £7 from
Photographs - Mo took some photographs at the meeting.
Next meeting in July 2016 will be a craft fun meeting.



06 - 04 - 2016

Eirlys welcomed 54 members.
Committee Members updates were brief due to Rachael and Sheila not being there. Presidents updates - reminder that nominees for committee need to be in before next meeting and to include a photo! 
- president went to a group meeting conveners day at Hatfield Peverel because it is our turn to convene the Ingrebourne Group meeting in 2017.  We need to have a few volunteers to help out with the  organising of this meeting. 
- reminder to bring donations in for this years Ingrebourne meeting either next month or the June meeting and tickets are still available.
- put names down for River Cruise in August.
- put names down for interest in going to Denman for the day.
Treasurer - reminded members that next month a full breakdown of our finances will be given. 

Sandra Grayson our speaker was then introduced. Her talk was about Graphology and handwriting. She explained how she got involved in graphology after helping out at a school through work.  She trained and has worked in the area of graphology since.  She took us through the basics of graphology showing us slides of the various things to look for.  Some of us had written a few sentences to bring to the meeting and were able to interpret our own writing. This produced a lot of laughter and chat.  She told us that all our handwriting changes throughout our lives and showed us autographs written by Elvis Presley  and Michael Jackson through the years. An interesting fact about signatures is that no two of our own ones are the same and it is how they can tell when one is a fake!  She made a plea to all of us to make sure that our children and grandchildren are taught how to hold a pen and write properly.  She teaches classes in calligraphy and showed us some of her students work which was beautiful.  Sandra answered a few questions before closing her talk and being thanked by the president.

After the break Sandra did the birthdays and Lorna did the Raffle as usual. One special birthday was being celebrated by Carol so congratulations to her.

Thank you to Jo,              for doing the tea.

Baking group is on hold but a suggestion was made to have a bake sale and taking photos to produce a calender. This could be added to with photos of other areas of interest.
Craft - Bonnie's Tuesday group is now full.
Cinema - Liz said she would send email out for the next outing and asked for some suggestions.
Book club is on 20th April. 
Singing group is on second and fourth Monday of the month as usual.
Walking group will start up soon.
Nancy one of the members asked if anyone was interested in starting a Rambling group. A show of hands showed that quite a few people were interested so this might be a new group starting.
Reminder that the coffee/tea group still meet at the Oasis café at Valence house every third Wednesday of the month at 1.30 - 3.30pm.

Next meeting is our Annual Meeting so another reminder was made to ask members to put their nominations in. We have WI Adviser Jane Bird coming along and we are also going to decide on a charity for this year.

Meeting closed at 9pm.




Eirlys welcomed 52 members and  guests 

Committee updates
President - Eirlys mentioned that there was a Clean for the Queen event on the weekend at Valance House,  Saturday between 11-1. This would involve cleaning up and planting a wildflower garden. Eirlys also mentioned that as part of Women's Empowerment month., the Council are launching the Gender eEuality Charter on 10th March at Barking Town Hall. Valance house will be holding an exhibition. For the Ingrebourne group meeting, we need donations for each stall. Two charities as mentioned previously will be coming to AGM in May. 
As requested by members, Eirlys had looked into the Denman day visits and chosen 28/11/16 or 20/2/17 out of the days availbale, with info available to be looked at during the tea break. It was asked that we feedback to Denman that Mondays are difficult for people who work. Eirlys is also looking at local options. She also proposed a river cruise in August, Sunday 7th, as our August outing.
Secretary - Rachael asked that those who wanted Ingrebourne meeting tickets pay Dora, then show their receipts to get their tickets. Rachael also mentioned that Harold wood were holding an event and that this would be circulated via email. Also, the Centenary book was to be lent out on a monthly basis for those who wanted to look at it. And the WI raffle tickets were on sale again.Treasurer - Dora reported that regarding the PA system, she would like to delay purchasing to next financial year as we have spent quite a lot this year.  She suggested that if can't hear, come to the front? Let us know if PA system really needed. Dora also thanked Liz for birthday cards and Lorna for the raffle. Lorna thanked all those donating for raffle.
Events -  no update as Kim is still not well, next event Eastbrookend in June.
Publicity - Mo reported that the programmes were available for those who missed out on them
Programme -  no update 
Registration and MCS - tell Jen if any details change.

Our speaker was Pat Allen, the beekeeper, who has been beekeeping for 35 years, and showed an absolute love of doing it.
Pat explained that she keeps honeybees, which are only one species of bee. There are 250+ other species, 15 are bumblebees, the rest are solitary bees which don't nest. The females work alone to produce nurseries, which develop on their own. Honeybees don't swarm on the ground, you may get solitary bees that do. They won't sting, and are good polinators. Bumblebees big and furry, hibernate over winter on their own, start new nest in spring. Queen lays a not very big nest, which could be anywhere, is not going to bother you and will leave in summer, when the males die and the new Queen hibernates.
Honeybees survive winter as a colony.  This means that they have to collect stores for all through the year. The main job of bees is pollination. About three quarters of food require bee pollination. Fruit, seed crops, beef due to eating grass all need flowering plants. We can help with early flowering bulbs, plant flowers throughout the years, single open flowers like daisy, wild geraniums. Double flowers don't provide anything for the bees.
Wasps have a life cycle like bumblebees. Wasp nests can take a lot of pests in one season. Wasps are yellow and black, honeybees are brown to orange and about the same size.
Bees evolved with flowering plants about 65 million years. They are under all sorts of pressure, but gardens without agriculture nearby are very helpful. We do need to respect bees and look after them properly. 
Pat showed as a brood box built with frames, curtains of combs, mimicking natural combs. Mesh floors on the hive. Bees don't like damp. Brood box on top of the mesh floor. Any gaps are bee sized to stop wax build up and propolis build up. The grid on top of the brood box stops the queen getting through. The queen is larger, cleaned by other bees, produces pheromone which stop other bees killing her while she is still producing. Supers are the boxes above the grid where bees can only produce honey. There can be multiple supers. This is topped by crown board. The only entrance is in the brood box.
In the winter, the hive holds a Queen and about 10000 female workers. No males, these are dead weight without virgin Queens. In summer get 70000 workers and 200-1000 drone males. 
Need to check bees are healthy and no swarms. An old queen goes out with about half the hive, looking for a new home. Pat advised contacting a beekeeper if you see a swarm on a bush or tree - easier to remove from there than a chimney!
Bee life cycle - egg in cell, larva capped in, pupates then has to eat way out. 
Pat wears a veil and latex gloves to keep hands clean and makes it less likely to squash bees - less stinging. She needs clean hands to handle queen - they only sting other queens.  She uses a cool smoker, across the entrance. Her hive tool is also useful, to take the roof off, then supers get put onto the roof as honey is food so can't go on the ground. Once the grid is off, Pat can then look through each frame to find the brood. House bees don't fly. They clean up, feed larvae, the older larvae first then younger as the house bees develop. Royal jelly out of the hive tastes horrible. Then the house bees start building comb with wax. There are also undertakers, workers that feed the queen, guard duty (about three weeks when sting developed) then they become foragers. Three weeks tops of all that work then they die. Winter bees last longer. 
Bees will move on comb if the beekeeper gently holds their hand on a spot. Quick shake to see state of comb. Queen shown by number of eggs and larvae on a comb. Workers are sterile, they can only lay male eggs which kills a colony. Female eggs are either workers' or  a queen's, which have been fertilised. Queen stores sperm once near start of life. Her cell is about the size of a peanut. 15-20 drones at a time. Then becomes egg laying machine. Chooses whether to fertilise or not.
If a colony decides it needs to form, it first has to split. Workers start to make queen cells. Queen stops laying. If seen quickly enough, the beekeeper will split the hive. Clip Queen's wings to stop swarming. The queen will still try to leave but gets lost, so the workers come back to hive. Clipping doesn't hurt, like finger nails in that regard. 
A queen is fed from the beginning more than any other larva. Fed with Royal jelly throughout development. 
Got to get bees out to extract honey. Use one way escapes, bees go down but can't get back up. An extractor machine spins the honey out of the comb. 

Lorna and Liz raffle

Alison did the birthdays. 

Baking - on hold.
Craft and tablecloth, Sinah Warren - Dora mentioned the tablecloth leaves, ask someone else do to for you or take on someone else's 
Book - Margaret - April 2016 
Coffee club - 3rd Wednesday month 1pm
Walking - will start up again in April, mid April, with a weekday walk. 
Choir - new venue, Becontree Methodist church, 7-8.30pm 1st 3rd Monday of the month, on blog. Valance house June 18th gig.
Cinema - 3rd Tuesday of the month, will let know via email. 
Theatre - Lesley reported tha on 26th February it was Pirates of Penzance, which 21 went and saw. June looking at Singing in the Rain or Made in Dagenham. She will put lists out next month. 
Board games - Janet 3rd Friday of month, we will let Janet know. 
Collectors - no update

Let us know any new group ideas.

Looking for more committee members, please think about it and ask if interested, by April meeting. 

Next meeting in April 2016, is Sandra Grayson talking about graphology

Thanks to Brenda and Carole (again) who did the tea rota




Eirlys welcomed 46 members and guests 

Committee updates

President - Eirlys showed that we had received a thank you letter from Haven House. Ideas for charities for this year are welcome. Others coming soon to speak to us. Haven House have an appreciation day coming up. Barking and Dagenham Carers, one of this year's suggestions, have a donation centre and clubs, classes for IT skills. Eirlys also mentioned the Barking and Dagenham handy person scheme - adaptations for houses. Our banner will be loaned to Essex Federation next year for their centenary. Clean for the Queen is on 4-6 March, contact Eirlys for more info. Eirlys also reported that the Denman taster day is only on Mondays, requires a minimum of 12 people, talk plus demo, £30 talk, £40 including demo, taster days £70. 14 people showed interest in a day trip, so Eirlys will check for dates from October 2016 onwards. 

Eirlys and Dora also fed back on the possibility of buy a PA system. This would be quite bulky 17kg as would need to go through an amp. Someone would need to bring it each month. £170-220 cost, carrying and storage are the difficulties. Would need someone to volunteer as caretaker.

Secretary - Rachael mentioned that the Ingrebourne group tickets are now available and that she stills has the heirloom panel if anyone wants to take it.

Treasurer - Dora reported that we have 71 paid members. Dora thanked everyone for help last month

Events -  no update Kim not well, next event will be Eastbrookend in June.

Publicity - no update 

Programme -  no update

Registration and MCS - tell Jen if any details change.

Sandra spoke about birthdays , asking those who want to take part, even if on existing list, to sign up again and include surnames.

Our speakers were from Queen's Hospital Radio, Annette and Sam. Bedrock Radio at Queen's started about 50 years ago as radio for Oldchurch hospital. They take requests from patients and play them on the shows, if no requests then just chat to patients as they go round. Funds are raised via the £10 membership fee, quiz nights,  book sales, used in cartridges. The staff are all volunteers and the service is also online. Other people can make requests for patients. They also offer podcasts, some of which are done by charities. They are always recruiting. The studio is in Queen's, it's a proper studio which was upgraded recently, with a new mixing desk, easy to use. Volunteers find it helps their own individual development. 

Fundraising is needed for licenses, Internet charges, etc as it's £4000 to run a year. Promote at events through out the borough e.g Havering fun day. The Havering nursing home choir came into sing, Ladies with Voices could too! They do outside broadcasts at schools, fetes and get bands into the foyer.

New systems are being put in to allow access, and these are also being put into King George's Hospital.

You have to be a member to volunteer. There are currently about 30 volunteers, oldest is 83. Wifi not available on wards, but is offered outside the studio.

Broadcast 24 hours a day. August bank holiday sponsored broadcast.
Probationary period for volunteers starts by chaperoning presenters, with a DAB check paid by hospital, then you can get own slot.  Go out in pairs. Rota for wards. You don't have to be on air. Some shows are quite structured, rock, movies, 90s, or more general, with quizzes like Higher or lower in the charts. They also have a story time show. 

The programme is available online, did have some mags printed and use notice boards. Will be able to pursue print more when the units are back in. 

Lorna and Liz raffle

Sandra did the birthdays. 

Baking - on hold. But Eirlys suggested holding a cake competition or auction. The May meeting will be best.

Craft and tablecloth, Sinah Warren - Dora said that the coach firm for Sinah Warren is charging £20 per person. Twin room still available for June 10th. Craft groups normal times, new group with Bonnie, 2nd and 4th Tuesday's 7-9pm based in Barking. 

Tablecloth is ongoing.

Book - Margaret - 24th February 2016 at Margaret's

Coffee club - 3rd Wednesday month 1pm
Walking - will start up again in April
Choir - new venue, Becontree Methodist church, 7-8.30pm 1st 3rd Monday of the month, on blog. Valance house June 18th gig.
Cinema - 3rd Tuesday of the month, Looking for Dads Army, will let know via email. 
Theatre - 26th February pirates of Penzance, collecting tickets tomorrow, will hand out in the foyer. Happy to take leaflets, suggestions and investigate.
Board games - Janet 
Collectors - may be starting in the church hall for choir, with field trips. Also organising a poppy factory visit. 
Kingsley Hall open day 11th Feb

Let us know any new group ideas.

Looking for more committee members, please think about it and ask if interested, by April meeting. 

Photographs - Linda agreed to act as 'official' photographer at meetings.

Next meeting in March 2016, beekeeping by Pat Allen.

Thanks to Jo, Bonnie, and Janet who did the tea rota




Mo, our Vice President welcomed 53 members and guests to our January meeting.

Committee updates

President -  Mo did this, on Eirlys' behalf. Mo went through the resolutions, which we voted on as a group this evening.

Secretary - Rachael then outlined the process for voting and that our choice would be sent to Essex Federation who would then pool all the Essex WI choices. So our choice may not be the one that goes through to the NFWI AGM. Rachael also said that we'd been given two suggestions for charities, Dagenham Carers and Osborne Partnership and that other suggestions for local charities were welcome. It was asked if we could have representatives come in to talk about the charities, which we will try to organise for February.

Treasurer - Dora reported that we raised £100 for Haven House at the Christmas meeting.

Events -  no update

Publicity - Mo mentioned with her Publicity hat on that the new programme guide is available. They will also be available next meeting if you didn't get one this meeting.

Programme -  Sheila reported that she is still looking for first aid courses, but these are hard to find locally. She will keep looking.

Registration and MCS - tell Jen if any details change.

We discussed whether we could pay for more expensive speakers, as we have a decent bank balance. The most expensive speaker this year will cost about £60. The committee is happy to look at more expensive speakers for 2017 so please send suggestions to the GMail account and these will be followed up.

We then made some new name badges, which should help us all to identify all the new members.

Alison did the birthdays in Sandra's absence. Liz and Lorna conducted the raffle. Thanks to Carole, Gizelle and Debbie for doing the tea rota.


Baking - on hold

Craft and tablecloth, Sinah Warren - next Wednesday outing, then meeting schedule starts up again. If you want to host let Dora know. 

Book - Margaret - 20th January next meeting

Coffee club - 3rd Wednesday month 1pm

Walking - will start up again in April.

Choir - new venue, 1st & 3rd Monday of the month, on blog.

Cinema - 3rd Tuesday of the month, Liz will email

Theatre - 26th February Pirates of Penzance at Kenneth More theatre

Next meeting is on February 6th 2016 will be about the hospital radio at Queen's Hospital





Eirlys welcomed 54 members and guests to our Christmas party meeting.

Committee updates

President -  In January, we will be changing our supported charity. This year's was Haven House, with the pot next to refreshments being our last chance to collect donations for them. Please give the committee charity suggestions, they must be local, via Gmail. Currently, we have Barking and Dagenham Carers on the list. Although we had not raffle this meeting, Eirlys thanked Liz and Lorna for the work they've done on it for the year. Eirlys also asked for ideas for educational activities. January meeting will be busy for as well as renewing membership and choosing a charity, resolutions will also be done. Eirlys mentioned that we have received a letter about code of conduct from Essex Fed - the code was made available for reading at the meeting and members not at the meeting can contact Rachael for a copy. Also, we will need to vote for trustees. Essex AGM closing date is the 4th February, with the meeting on March 11th. 2017 Essex Fed, asking for an heirloom panel, which is with Rachael if anyone is interested.

Secretary - Rachael outlined what happened at the Ingrebourne meeting, which Noak Hill are running next year. It will be in June 2016, on a Wednesday, with afternoon tea with sandwiches and cakes. We have craft stall. The speaker is Matthew Collins, tickets will be £7.50-8 due to the speaker's fee. It's the same venue as this year. We will be doing 2017, which coincides with the Essex Federation centenary. Rachael also asked people to put their names down for the tea rota and also left the History of the WI book out for members, along with a Christmas card from Harold Wood Evening WI.

Treasurer - Dora asked members pick up member ship forms for next year, BACs preferred. We can claim back tax if you want to Gift Aid it. If paying by cash please take an envelope. Re Essex news, tell Rachael if want to continue or if you want to start in January. We have two new water dispensers, please say which is best so we can buy a third.

Events -  no update

Publicity - new handbook next meeting, photos going on Facebook, let us know if you don't want this to occur.

Programme -  no update 

Registration and MCS - tell Jen if any details change.

We then had the Christmas party and quiz, won by the team with the Secretary on it! Though others mainly did the work...

Sandra did the birthdays. Will be doing a review in February so if you want your name added or removed let Sandra know.

Bursary goes to Lesley Gould - congratulations Lesley!


Baking - on hold

Craft and tablecloth, Sinah Warren - Craft groups meet. next week as usual. New Facebook group doing craft, baking or diy, let Dora know if you want to join.

Book - Margaret - 20th January next meeting

Coffee club - 3rd Wednesday month 1pm

Walking - will start up again next year

Choir - This is changing to a new venue in Jan 4th Becontree Methodist church. Cheryl also mentioned that the Christmas Meal was starting 7.45 at restaurant opposite Dagenham East station 

Cinema - went last week to see the Dressmaker and Lady in the Van. Next trip in new year.

Theatre - nothing to report 

Let us know any new group ideas.

Next meeting in January 6th 2016 will be membership renewal and get to know new members.




Eirlys welcomed 48 members and 3 guests. Our speaker this month was June Ward.

Committee updates

President -  Eirlys mentioned that the Essex AGM is at Southend on Sea, next year. £37.50 for membership fees next year. Marie has had a baby boy and Mary has got a PhD in Law.

Secretary - Rachael explained we have been trialing a new way to do the tea rota where three members, more or less by alphabetical order, will be contacted each month and ask if they are available for the tea rota that month. This is to keep the process fair so that the same people don't end up doing it all the time. She also mentioned that the new round of meetings will be starting soon for the Ingrebourne group. Members indicated that they would like more information on what is happening prior to that meeting so they can decide if they want to go.

Treasurer - Dora report that the finances are going very well, and we have had more than enough to cover the main expenses for coming year so far. We have 77 paid up members and we will be keeping £18 of new member money next year. Big purchase of projector and the flag raising event. Raffle and tea/coffees nearly pay hall fees. Just over £6000 bank balance after subs in January. Let the committee know what we want to do, within charity rules. We can spend it on education for us, raising money for another charity. Will be handing out paperwork next month for subs in January.

Events -  no update

Publicity - no update

Programme - next month Christmas quiz and Secret Santa

Registration and MCS - no update

The speaker was June Ward, who is an NFWI Adviser and Denman host. June gave both the historical background to Denman College, described the house and the surrounding buildings and grounds and encouraged all members to take the opportunity to visit, either as a day visitor or for one of the courses. Denman offers day visits, overnight courses, 2,3 and 4 night courses.

June mentioned that for those that need them bursaries are available and can be found in the brochure. There is also the Awards for All bursary, where the whole WI can go. Bursaries cover the costs of courses, some travel costs paid, some free weekends and there is also help for carers. 

Essex Federation will be going in June 16, with coaches to Denman for the day, and a cookery demonstration. 

The Shop at Denman is full of unwanted gifts. Essex have also held a pop up shop of unwanted gifts which led to another Denman bursary.

Members asked if the First Ladies bursary can be used for educational purposes generally or just for Denman? June advised that this depends on WI but it does have to be used on educational purposes. However, this can be something like a visit to a gallery. The only criteria is you come back and share your experience. 

June also mentioned the ACWW - Associated Country Women of the World. Their Triennial this year is at Warwick University. They raise money for charitable purposes and this year have asked for craft items to sell.

The Raffle was done by Viv and Laura - thanks to both.

Sandra did the birthdays


Baking - on hold due to Eirlys' health and hall closure.

Craft and tablecloth, Sinah Warren -  Dora said that the tablecloth was now ongoing, please bring in leaves. Craft groups as normal next week.

Book - Margaret - check blog for more details.

Coffee club - 3rd Wednesday month 1pm

Walking - will start up again next year

Choir - first and third Monday 7pm at St Elizabeth's hall. Christmas tree event Sat 28th November at Upminster 10.30am. Thursday 10th December Carol Singing. Valance house 5th December. Also a charity bake sale.

Cinema - will be another one in November. 
Theatre -Lesley not here.
Let us know any new group ideas.

Next meeting in December will be Christmas party. Choir will be singing. Quiz, secret Santa - buy. Small gift £2 wrap up if put in, you can take one out. Mulled apple juice and mince pies.

Bursary will also be drawn at next meeting. 

Cheryl, Nancy, Paulette did the tea rota - thanks to all three.




Our September meeting included a talk from Mel Rees. Eirlys welcomed 39 members and 7 guests.

We started with the committee updates
President -  first aid training - last meeting's event showed this is needed. 18th September 4-7 flag raising event at Barking Town Hall, which is our centenary celebration. There will be an invite to come for all members. We might need volunteers for cake for the reception. Eirlys thanked all who helped out and attended the summer events. Also, Great British Menu is on now - if you watch the final banquet, you could see three of our members!
Secretary - This was the last chance for the NFWI raffle, but tickets for the Essex Fed raffle are available. Also let Rachael know if you are interested in the inter club quiz and the winsome club.
Treasurer - DB reported subscriptions gone up to £37.50 for annual. Cards for deposits for Sinai Warren
Events - Kim away
Publicity - Mo away
Programme - Sheila reported that Cancer Research are coming for next month's talk. WE also have a new blog and Facebook page. Any further suggestions on either should go to Sheila.
Registration and MCS - Jen thanked everyone for letting her know they were coming in and said she had the reference numbers for Moodle if anyone wants them. 

Our speaker was Mel Rees, who gave us some very funny and entertaining stories about growing up in Battersea and English snobbery, amongst other things. He writes as Anthony Mann.

Sandra did the birthdays. We then had the raffle.

Group reports came next.
Baking - Eirlys on hold due to hall being demolished. A new hall will be built however, so will be able to start up again when it is finished.
Craft and tablecloth, Sinah Warren -  Dora three craft groups full up. If you want to join, let Dora know and also if you want to host. Tablecloth group going well - keep bringing in leaves. Let Dora know if you aren't interested in receiving emails. Patchwork workshops alternative weeks, let Dora know if you are interested.
Book - Margaret 14th October - check blog for more details 
Coffee club - 3rd Wednesday month 1pm
Walking - walk on Saturday, £2.50, 11am at Valance.
Choir - next Monday 7pm at St Elizabeth's hall
Cinema - Liz will get this going again now after a quiet summer. She is open to suggestions.
Theatre - Lesley will be looking to book Anything Goes in November

Do let us know if you have any new group ideas.

Next meeting in September, speaker will be cancer research, Vanessa Babbage




Our July meeting included a talk from Verity Lambert about the Mobile Museum. Eirlys welcomed 48 members and 1 guest.

Committee updates
President - Eirlys explained that we are trying a new meeting order with committee updates first. June Ward will be coming soon to talk about bursaries and Denman. Eirlys also mentioned the Garden party (with photos on the rolling presentation) and AGM. Doreen Golding has sent us a thank you card. September will be our next meeting with humourist Mel Rees as speaker.
Secretary - Rachael mentioned there was still time to say if you want to attend the member open days NFWI 25 & 26 Nov 2015 and that the NFMI raffle was still going, with the last chance to buy tickets in September meeting. Any comments on speakers  for May, June, July can be sent to Rachael to add to the form. Rachael also had a notice from Essex Federation that the Failure to Care resolution had been moved to next business which means it was withdrawn as it wasn't considered clear enough. There was no official notice yet as to which resolution had been chosen.

Treasurer -Dora reported that we raised £317.90 at Eastbrookend. From the Ingrebourne Group meeting, we received £103 as our share. Dora also thanked those who had paid their Sinah deposits.
Events - Kim thanked members who had already put their names forward for 25th July Parsloes and 2nd August Eastbury.  Parsloes should have plenty of refreshments, will be doing a rota. At the Eastbury event, a special afternoon tea can be booked, but at least five days notice is needed. It costs £14, other refreshments will be available. 
Publicity - Mo reported that the flag is awaiting the council logo before being made up. We are also getting a banner for the Eastbury August event, for which we also have leaflets to hand out.
Programme - Sheila mentioned that June Ward will speak possibly November. In September, please give Sheila any suggestions for speakers for next year.
Registration and MCS - no updates

Verity-Jane Keefe Mobile Museum 

Verity is the borough's resident artist and also a lecturer at Central St martins, with a focus on people and place and how they interact. She originally worked in the borough on the Barking Folly, a constructed ruin made of things with a relationship with the borough.
Her next project was East Street Barking, a new college site, looking at regeneration and  the 'death of planning'. Rooms with a view, icons on the landscape, but being demolished. One tree remains! The project looked at the community's invisible history. Verity found an archive model, with a show home. She produced a film work of the demolition, documenting changes in East London, what will the new look like, but able to look back at what was there.  She screened the film within the footprint of the site a year after it was demolished, using reflective tape to mark out what had been demolished. She still has a cabinet of coloured rubble.

Her next project was around Legoland - Goresbrook village, which was also demolished. The security lodge was the first in the country and it was considered a model of refurbishment in 90s. Verity found through the archives that the vote for colours was rigged - any colour you like as long as it's red. Now back to being called Castle Green. Google view of Barking and Dagenham shows Goresbrook halfway through the demolition. For this project Verity spoke to all who worked there as well as residents. Show homes tell you how to live with tricks like smaller size beds for show homes. Verity dug up the original signs of the towers from rubble. The developers were very helpful with the project. Verity observed that in the 50s, local authorities surveyed everything, now all done via Internet.

Verity's latest project is the Mobile Museum, housed in an ex local authority mobile library. (Barking & Dagenham libraries allow home delivery for anyone interested). In 2012, she became the Olympic artist for the borough. Her main idea was to use conversation and art practice to engage people. Looked at ways of exhibiting in different museums, eg  Horniman Museum, where a walrus was stuffed wrong because noone had seen a walrus before. Verity will be touring 11  housing estates. She has crowd sourced a lending library, books relating to arts, crafts, etc, a new natural history collection for the borough. Describing a place by its objects, e.g Goresbrook red rubber matting. Other contents include fantasy objects inhabiting Barking and Dagenham, pigment tests using pigments made from local materials, cardboard models. The logo made up of objects around Barking and Dagenham, which led to an interesting digression on street names: Mammoth Villas came from a mammoth pelvis found at the site. She is now working on a protest banner for mobile museum. Workshops starting in two weeks, through to October and the mobile museum will be an open house event. Verity also mentioned Mass observation - 50 years worth of data. Her work will include a civic street survey, one street per estate on one day and Skills survey - online map of skills, jigsaw clubs, other skills.  


Alison did the birthdays


Craft and tablecloth - Dora mentioned these will be continuing as normal, but at other venues. Tablecloth leaves being done.

Book - 19th August at Eirlys', with the books on the blog
Coffee club - 3rd Wednesday afternoon at Valence as usual

Choir - 1st and 3rd Monday - Christmas meal at the Pipe Major at Dagenham East, 4th December, under £17 will need £5 deposit by September meeting.
Cinema - Liz will email
Theatre - Lesley not here, but other members reported that Hairspray was brilliant 

Next meeting in September, speaker will be Mel Rees.

Thanks to Mary, Kim and Sheila for womanning the tea/coffee.




Our June meeting included a talk from Pearly Queen Doreen Golding. Eirlys welcomed 57 members and 7 guests.

Doreen Golding, the Pearly Queen of Old Kent Road and Bow Bells, was our speaker. She is the only pearly queen whose realms span the Thames. Old Kent Road was inherited from her husband, while Bow Bells is her title in her own right, which she received in 2008.

Doreen gave us the history of the Pearly Kings and Queens, which started in Somers Town, a very poor area of London. Founder Henry Croft, born 1862, was a workhouse boy. He went to work at 13 as a road sweeper for Camden Council. He was also a rat catcher. He got the idea for developing a charity when looking at the barrow boys and costermongers (fruit sellers), who used pearl buttons to attract customers in the gas light to their stalls, baskets and trays. Markets included churches and hospitals. Without state welfare, they helped each other out when sick. 
Croft decided to smother himself in buttons, which were (and are!) heavy. One button these days would cost £50-60!  Not hard to get but expensive. At the point this started, women wore the plumed hats still used today - you can see originals at the Museum of London. Flat caps and waistcoats were worn by men. The different patterns mean different things: zigzags represent the ups and downs of life, flowers equal friendships, bells and bows represent Doreen's territory. Other badges are from charities or places where collecting for charities.
Croft collected money for hospitals, and was known as the king of the Pearly Kings. On Flag days, they used the buttons to attract donors. At his funeral in 1930, 400 people came in pearly outfits. Every borough had a pearly family, which remained mainly costermongers. Henry Croft has a statue in St Martin's in the Fields.
The Pearly Kings and Queens have continued the tradition of charity work, and do talks and meet and greets as well. They are a registered charity and have so far this year collected £30k, mainly around Brick lane and Covent Garden. Once a year, they all meet and decide how to divide amongst different charities. Sometimes a specific charity is supported for a time. Doreen prefers to support smaller charities to ensure less admin, though her favourite is the Air Ambulance.

There is no current pearly king or queen in Barking/Dagenham. They now districts rather than Boroughs. Tommy Johnson MBE of Bank Side and Bow Bells was the only Pearly King so far to get an MBE. His hat passed to Doreen's husband Harry. Doreen and Harry got their start by being Pearly Prides (helpers) to the Pearly Queen of Redbridge. The former keeper of the crown jewels followed a similar path and is now Pearly King of Forest Gate.

Doreen told us about the Costermongers Harvest Festival, which is Sunday 27th September at Guildhall and Bow Church. Doreen is a Freeman of the City of London and collected further money for charity by selling (toy) sheep on London Bridge. She also got to appear
in the opening ceremony of the Olympics as the Pearly Kings were invited to represent London. Underneath the stadium were dressing rooms. Some days they were not called for rehearsals, but had to sit there all day. They were told by earpiece what to do on the day. There is also the Lambeth New Year's Day parade, which starts at the Savoy, with a walk to parliament square. They were invited to plant poppies at the Tower of London, which was really hard work, but got to the service on armistice day. VE Day more subdued now that the soldiers are in their 90s. 

Eirlys presented Doreen with a First Ladies badge.

Eirlys quickly mentioned the Garden party attended by 8000 WI members to which she, Carol, Marie, Cheryl and Jo got to attend. It was a great day out and they enjoyed themselves immensely.

Sandra did the birthdays. Asked for more card donations as she is running out of stock.

Lorna and Liz then did the raffle.

Committee updates
President - Eirlys thanked previous members of the committee who were presented with flowers. Eirlys is also in the midst of arranging a flag raising event at Barking town hall late September, followed by a reception. August 2nd Kim, our new Events co-ordinator is starting to look at. Choir singing, and there will be a speaker on role of WI in WW1 and WW2. Also included will be a baking competition, child and adult. Kids arts and crafts all day £2.50, fete style games, try your hand at knitting and crochet, historical tableau. Craft stalls booked in. Entry free to residents and NT members. Look out for emails being sent out. Bursary - NFWI notice  can only be used for charitable purposes, education of women and girls. Denman College provides this, which is why bursary is set for this purpose. Sally, previous recipient, showed her Chinese brush work. The bursary will be further explained at the next meeting.
Secretary - Rachael reminded everyone of the NFWI open day and raffle.
Treasurer - Dora said that some of the group were off on Friday for Sinah Warren.
Events - Kim spoke about the Eastbrookend event this Sunday, got some volunteers. On that day we sell things, baking does best. Kim can come and collect. Dora can collect on Thursday Sinah people. Jo can provide plants. Kim has packaging if needed. 
Publicity - Mo has cards and pamphlets to give to everyone, please take
Programme - Sheila has started updating the blog, please let her know what needs to go on. Let Sheila know of any speakers for next year.
Registration and MCS - no updates

Baking - no update
Craft and tablecloth - tablecloth shown as a work in process. 
Historical group - no update
Book - on Wed 17th June at Margaret's house, check book group's blog for books
Walking - 13th June Elm Park and Hornchurch, talk 
Choir and collectors - thanks for WI mags, need 8 more. Sheila will be doing another coffee morning August, christmas lunch list. 
Cinema - Liz will email and let them know 
Theatre - Hairspray 13 going 26th June.
Next month's meeting will include some getting to know you activities as we've grown as a group. 



Our May meeting is our Annual General meeting where a new committee is chosen. Eirlys welcomed 45 members and 5 guests.

Eirlys proposed that as seven people had put their names forward, we did not have a ballot. This was agreed by members.

Committee and group updates came next. These were as follows:
President - Eirlys said don't forget that the Ingrebourne group meeting is on 20th May. Eirlys also mentioned that we need baking volunteers for this meeting and can pick it up from you if not going. The baking list is on the table. There is also a folder with a copy of the meetings in the folder on the table.
Secretary - Rachael said that the committee report could be read on her iPad or can be sent via email. She also mentioned that there was a NFWI survey available to be filled out if any member wanted to.
Treasurer - Dora mentioned that the coach payments for Sinai Warren were needed tonight.
Events - Gizelle mentioned that the same events were still to come. Eastbrookend 7th June, we need names for baking and for the stall on the day. Thanks to those who have already volunteered. One Borough is on 25th July, Eastbury on 2nd August, Valance on 29th August. There will also be info on Facebook and Twitter.
Registration - Jen gave a reminder to let her know when you've arrived.
MCS - no updates

Baking - Eirlys mentioned that May 9 the baking group is making shortbread St Mary's 10-12, there's a slip of paper on the table with all instructions.
Craft and tablecloth - Dora mentioned a raggy bag workshop with 8 places available at the end of June, see Dora if interested. Next week back to craft group.
Book - neither Debbie or Margaret here, next one at Margaret's 17th June. Check out the book club blog for details.
Choir - Cheryl said the choir was practicing for Eastbury in August. Looking for 14 covers of special cover WI life, so please provide if you can. Still looking for a site for the collectors group.
Walking - Marie reported that they had had a lovely walk with Tina Baker on famous women. Tina would be willing to talk about Mrs Beeton and/or Elizabeth Fry, who is buried in Barking. Another walk next weekend to the hospital chapel Ilford. Come at 2 near NatWest.
Cinema - Liz is not here, she will send email.
Theatre - Lesley report that she needed the Hairspray money today for 26th June. She also mentioned that at Eastbury there was Sugar and Spice on 7th June, with free entry to Barking residents. Barking Mad are doing Oliver.

Sandra did the May birthday.

Next meeting will be Doreen Golding, Pearly Queen of Old Kent Road.

Gizelle, Mary and Lorna went to great British menu banquet theme WI, will air August/September, so watch out for that.

Eirlys mentioned that National Federation running a picnic, May 23rd London in Hyde Park at the bandstand, feel free to come along.

Then followed the Annual General meeting - 
  • Presentation and adoption of financial statement was done by Dora. We finished last year with a balance of £3864.53; this year £5436.28; predict next year we will still be financially comfortable. Seconded by Rachael, majority voted to adopt.
  • Committee report read out by Rachael and majority voted to adopt.
  • Presidents address was given by Eirlys, built on Alison's work, 62 members, do give us your ideas. Had many interesting speakers, taken part in events, clubs are doing well with our support. Coming year for centenary, running event 2nd August at Eastbury, hope it for support from Essex Fed, Mayor is coming. Hopefully can decorate boaters later today. Like to thank committee for hard work. Thanks to Gizelle and Mary.
  • Committee results - Eirlys, Dora, Jennifer, Rachael, Sheila Stoker, Kim Ratcliffe, Mo Obadina.
  • President - Paulette asked who would like to stand for President. Eirlys was the only volunteer, so will be our President for second year.





Eirlys welcomed 45 members, guests and the speaker. Eirlys mentioned that the ballot for the Buckingham Palace garden party would take place, and the unsuccessful names will be sent to Essex for a further ballot. We also need anyone interested in nominating for the committee to say so this month. Eirlys also urged members during the break to look at letters thanking us for support from the Linus blankets, for the donation to Guide Dogs made for the Rita Fisher presentation and from ex member Sheila Rogers, who has relocated to Kent. She also reported that Gill Venton, last month's speaker, made enough money to buy another sewing machine.

Shirley Perkins, who is also a WI Adviser, was our speaker and too us through a demonstration of flower arranging. Shirley recommended becoming a WI adviser, as it is well worth it, at least for the visits for Denham. She is also an Area Arranger for NAFAS, the National Association of Flower Arranging Societies. Shirley not only showed us some lovely arrangements, but also the language that should be used which includes:
  • Flowers don't droop, they cascade.
  • Stems are not stiff, they are turgid
  • Flowers don't smell, they have scent or perfume or aroma.
  • You don't pop flowers in, you place.
  • Not balls, but spheres or spherical objects.
Shirley also told us the difference between florists and flower arrangers, which is that flower arrangers use more foliage and florists more flowers. As a general rule, you should arrange smaller flowers and foliage to the outside with bigger in the middle. She also told us not to worry too much about rules as these only apply if you are being judged. In her training, aside from the terminology above, Shirley learnt other things such as red lipstick helps people that lip read! 
Oasis is the main floral foam Shirley uses, with green for fresh flowers and grey for artificial or silk. Previous to floral foam, people used pin holders. Oasis should be sat in the water but not pushed into the container - it actually soaks better. It does need to be kept wet. As flowers will seal their stems to stop water drainage, it is best to cut the last centimetre of the stem off underwater, which helps the flower start drinking again. If you cut on a slant, the flowers can drink more. If dealing with flowers that produce sap, you should always wash your hands as soon as possible. If you are using roses, take leaves off the stem to help the head stay watered.

The first demo was a bottle holder, which Shirley had found produced by a firm in Yorkshire for £2.

Shirley advised that with carnations you should always cut between the nodes, as they will drink better from the oasis.

Second was a Plastic ring, with floral foam. Shirley showed us how to use a stick with Hyacinths to give support before putting into the oasis. But you do have to ensure stem is in oasis. Tulips, like a lot of spring flowers prefer water to oasis. However, they will drink from it and were put in a centre piece. Shirley uses the leaves by putting a little hole in the top and tucking the stem through. This could be used as a centrepiece and hung as a ring, but the properties of the oasis mean that it shouldn't dry out at top.

Third was flowers displayed in a container, for which the flowers were raffled but not the container. Shirley used gerberas for this one, and gave us a further rule of 'One in the back for the vicar' which is done to give vicars a nice flower to look. Shirley advised that with some foliage you have to consider the time of year, for example, bay is okay now but not while it is flowering.

The fourth demo included two oasis dishes, where Shirley started with aspadistra leaves. She made an enclosed space, by folding leaves like the tulip leaves. Then added fern and bay as further foliage. Then carnations. Followed by a yellow anastasia.

The raffle was the floral displays and easter eggs.

Sandra did the birthdays, of which there were many this month and tried to tie the memorable events close to 1915.

Committee updates
President - Eirlys went to Annual County meeting. At which the Chief Constable of Essex spoke about 100 years of women in police and Arlene Phillips spoke about her life. Members can go as observers. At this point we held the ballot for the Royal Garden party. Thanks to Shirley for doing the draw. We drew three names as not everyone had indicated if they wanted to be involved and there is a cost, so if the first person doesn't want to go, the second can and so on. The other names will be provided to Essex Federation for their draw. If a couple more people would like to see Hayfever, let Eirlys know. As a reminder, next month is the AGM.
Secretary - see above
Treasurer - Dora reported that we received over five hundred pounds in gift aid. In May she will need coach numbers, will be £60. Straw boaters sign up, let Dora know by next week if need one.
Events - Gizelle reported that there were no major updates, and that she is grateful for names given for events coming up. We will need items to sell and baking. Gizelle reminded members that we are still looking for volunteers to organise social events.
Registration -  no updates
MCS - no updates

Baking - May 9 shortbread at St Mary's
Craft and tablecloth - back to normal on 16th April. Historical group will meet May 7th after next meeting
Book club will be meeting 16th April at Sue's
Choir and collectors - next choir will be Monday 13th April due to bank holiday. The choir will be singing 2nd August. No update on collectors club.
Walking - The group met at Havering Museum in March. Got to see cold store and have a private tour. Women through time is 25th April, this is a paid walk, so let Marie know if you want to go.
Cinema - The group saw Second Best Marigold Hotel in March, and will aim to see Cinderella this month
Theatre - THe next outing will be Hairspray at the Kenneth More on Friday 26th June, please bring money next meeting.

The next meeting will be held on May 6th and will be the annual general meeting. As such, we will first vote for the new committee and president, with an activity to follow.




Eirlys welcomed 36 members and the speaker. We have received a  letter from Essex Federation about a special WI garden party on 2nd June at Buckingham Palace. One person from each WI can go. We'll do a ballot, sign up or contact Eirlys if you want to be included on the ballot.

Gill Venton was our speaker and talked about the Congo sewing project.
Gill had been friends with two missionaries in Congo for about forty years. She was originally a language teacher including French, which is the Lingua Franca of Congo.  Congo is a closed country, you have to be invited by Congoese people and fly through Kenya. Gill went out as a missionary. Missionaries are well respected due to building hospitasl and schools. The Congolese people live in thatched, anthill brick, simple houses. A lot of the wealth of the country is in mines, producing cobalt and mobile phone part metals, and they also use mine bags for building. Gill advised that a local woman could be taught French to teach the local children, now got 200 students involved. Children don't have toys, we shown a photo of cars created from sticks and cardboard. The staple food is pounded maize, with a feast normally including chicken and vegetables. Her group bought bananas for prisoners. A brazier is used for cooking, with a pan put on top. If donate food to prisons, e.g. biscuits, one is provided per prisoner. Children provide child care for others - from about five to six, older children start carrying babies on back. 
Gill's first project was a sustainable sewing project. To raise money for the project, she made and sold aprons with names sewed on for five pounds each. This allowed her to gather together sewing machines, overlockers, and threads to take out to Congo and Gill bought a generator out there. In a school, Gill taught how to make patterns from scrap, using computer paper wrapping and showing how to add a seam allowance to measurement, etc, to produce a useful article of clothing, which was a dress for a little girl. Children's clothes identified as best means of generating income - school uniforms are standard in Congo and also a good source of income. A new cohort of students is using the machines, making a small profit. Material has been donated to continue the project.
The next project Gill got into involved the Kimbilio children's sanctuary, which takes in street children, who were generally ex child soldiers, victims of divorce or accused of witchcraft and banished from their families. Initially it was started for boys, but then girls started appearing. So Gill started teaching the children how to make bags for sale in UK. A girls home is being built and the next project will supply a sewing centre in the girls home, for financial support and to build self esteem.This will consist of three good sewing machines, older machines for girls to take when they set up their own homes. GIll plans to take the machines out anytime from May to January next year, depending on family commitments. The children are very happy when praised, eg good straight seam. Gill spoke a little Swahili, the children spoke a little French but they all managed to communicate anyway. Two girls were living with the mother of the boys house as they had malaria. They got proper knitting needles. The homes offer cooking classes, wash their own clothes, agriculture, and to make sugar/salt solution for diarrhoea. 
Congo is politically unstable. The internet cut off. Electricity is available in homes only during night, as it is dedicated to mines during the day. Mainline power cables get stolen, so they use generators to make up deficit. The water situation is also bad, dirty and polluted. They use filtered water in mission house, but only for drinking. Water projects have been run in cathedral and will have in the transit homes. People from local village get water from centres. 

Raffle, no birthdays 

President - Hayfever £29.99 matinee 26th June put name down if interested. Ingrebourne group meeting put name down, will get some tickets in March, pay in April. Hats are also being made available. 2nd August Eastbury WW1 fair, we will be involved. We won't be making things for sale, but will have an exhibition, including knitting and crochet or a bake off, where you can bring in samples for judging. We've been informed that the Resolution for Essex is failing to care, assessment of need in long term care, which was our choice too. We need new leaflets and someone to do Twitter and Facebook, please let Eirlys know if you are interested. The WI Magazine had  a week long cultural tour, please contact Jo if you are interested in going. 
Events - Gizelle asked for volunteers for our four summer events, which are Eastbrookend country fair on 7th June, Parsloes Park on 25th July, Eastbury on 2nd August, and Valance family history fair on 29th August. Gizelle also mentioned that anyone with graphics and arts skills is needed for designing a new flyer.
Secretary - Rachael will give the results of the charity we will support next meeting. The Annual General Meeting is coming up in, so please give any nominations, photos to her by next meeting.
Registration - Jen had no updates but thanked everyone for letting her know when they came in.
Dora - Sinai warren now has one place available, with a coach seat. Please let her know if you or a friend are interested by 1st March. Dora also backed that we need new poster, she is happy to transfer to computer for someone, but we do need ideas.

Craft and Tablecloth - Tablecloth group should contact Dora for dates if not at the meeting. Craft is next week in lieu of this week. 7th May she will hold a one off meeting to discuss historical info for display at Eastbury. Dora also needs the leaves for the tablecloth that she hasn't been given yet.
Book - Debbie reported that there will be an April meeting. In February, they met and discussed secret Santa books. Book club will be holding two outings that other members can join, Fashion on Rations exhibition at Imperial War Museum and the dolls house exhibition at the Museum of Childhood.
Coffee club will be on 18th March, at Valance House
Cinema  - Liz reported that this will be Second Best Marigold Hotel next Tuesday at Newham showcase
Walking group  - March havering museum. 
Choir - Cheryl reported that they had been invited to join Bach choir at Royal Festival Hall, 2nd August. She thanked Val Warren for taking over last week. 
Collectors - Cheryl is still waiting for a slot at Tescos
Theatre - Lesley reported that this will be West Side Story on 13th March.

The next meeting is 1st April, where we'll have a flower arranging demonstration. Bring your Easter bonnets!




Eirlys was back up and almost running with her leg out of the boot. She welcomed 46 members and guests.

Our speaker was Joanne Lazarus from Haven House Children's Hospice, where she is the Community and Events Coordinator. Joanne took us through the purpose of Haven House, to provide a home away from home for children and young people with life limiting or life threatening illnesses. It was set up in 1995 by Sue Irwin, a health visitor, who saw a lack of care and respite care for children, so decided to set up a hospice for children up to age 19, provided free. 
They provide clinical care in the from of day care, buses for school children, short break care up to two weeks, step down transitional care - after long term hospital be prepared for when child comes home, palliative care, end of life care - family flat, great ormond street nurses come for palliative care, bereavement support. They also provide non clinical care which includes making things fun eg play, musical therapy for non verbal, non communicative children, and a toy home loan service have an Amazon wish list can choose for up to three months at home. There is also special yoga, which helps to move muscles, soft play toys, and a sensory room with images on floor, amongst other things for the ill children.
However, the purpose of Haven House is to support the whole family. There are support groups and services provided to mums and dads, so they can discuss with nurses and with each other things like which restaurants have wheelchair access. Siblings also get specific services, including buddies who know what they are going through and their own hut with games and crafts. Some times it can take a few years for the impact to be felt by siblings.
They currently have five bedrooms, but can only staff four. There is a self contained family flat, where families can stay as long as they need to. There is also a bereavement suite and a prayer and reflection room, which covers all religions. A new sensory garden opened Monday, but there were already 24 acres of woodland.
So far, Haven House has supported almost 400 families. It takes £2.5 milllion to run, with only 35% from govt sources. It costs £3835 for one day of care at the hospice. As such, many ways are used to raise funds, including auctions and raffles, challenge events eg throw yourself out of a plane, marathon sponsorship, charity shops, corporate partnership, donations, events, fundraising, and volunteers.
Joanne mentioned one little girl, Rosie who at two weeks old was diagnosed with neurological problem from which she could not recover. After 6 months, her parents decided to let her pass away.

In the future, Haven House would like to increase nursing staff so that the fifth or more bedrooms could be opened, have theor expert parents programme cover more conditions, find more people who need help, help more in community, and expand to further areas.
Joanne mentioned some upcoming events, which are listed on their website: Haven House Events.
Joanne would have shown a video, but we didn't have the speakers available. You can find the three stories of families attending Haven House here.

The raffle was held, then Sandra did the February birthdays.

Committee updates were as follows:

President - Eirlys mentioned that the WI theatre offer, collectors group list, and Ingrebourne group meeting list were all on the tables for signing up to. She reminded us that the Ingrebourne group meeting involved a glass of Buck's Fizz and cream tea, with a talk by Susan Reed at Harold Hill community centre, on May 20th 1-4pm. Eirlys went on to say that some preliminary analysis had been made of the interests recorded with the membership. Some are covered e.g reading, while some like heritage we need to develop. Eirlys wrote a letter to chair of Essex Federation about the events, which included members' views. However, we have found out we can now book via email. If you are interested in submitting to the Summer Show at Hyde Hall let Eirlys know. The cooking section is a tea bread. Eirlys will attend the next Ingrebourne group planning  meeting in March. We are in charge of jam and cake stall. Dagenham Dames are doing the tombola. Neither of us are expected to do everything, so if we have tombola items, we can give to them to Dagenham Dames and they can give us jam and cakes as will the other Ingrebourne WIs. Next meeting we will have a vote on the charities. Eirlys also asked for ideas for new poster as we are running out of copies of the current one. All contributions welcome.

Vice President/Events - Gizelle mentioned that the Eastbrookend Fair was taking place on Sunday 7th June. Sinai warren people will miss as that's the away weekend, so we need lots of bakers, tombola, stall holders. Two new events are Saturday 25th July at Parsloes Park, which Gizelle will have a sheet for next meeting. Eastbury have invited us to celebratte the WI centenary on 2nd August, which the committee will be discussing. As mentioned last month, Valance have their history fair Saturday 29th August fair, focused on 1960s. More generally, Haven House have tours on Tuesday and Thursday for up to 6 people. There is a Mother's Day afternoon tea at Eastbury, Sunday 15th March, £14 per person if you want to start dropping hints.

Secretary - Rachael also mentioned that members can now email for booking events, and we encourage that singles and small groups contact yourselves, with larger groups going through her. National Federation want Board of trustees votes by next month. Also, we are currently being asked by Essex Federation to have member views of speakers, so contact Rachael if you have any comments.

Treasurer - Dora  encouraged members to use the emailed forms for event booking. Dora also reminded that Sinai Warren final payments must be made by end of next Meeting.

Registration  - Jen reminded members to register when they come in as two people missing that had not registered.

MCS -  Mary reported that as of last month we had 67 members registered. Please let her know if you are not receiving the WI Life magazine or want to go on Moodle. Moodle is the online learning courses offered by the WI.

Baking - Eirlys will hopefully be able to organise something next month.
Book club - The next meeting is 18th February 2015 at Alison's house. Let Alison know if you want to attend.
Coffee club - to be held at Valance house.
Cinema - Liz reported that they saw both Theory of Everything and Into the Woods, both very good. She will be in touch via email for this month's films.
Craft and tablecloth -  A new craft group has been set up by Becky for Wednesday evening, near Roneo corner. Wednesday afternoon and Thursday evening are fully subscribed. Tablecloth group - Dora will confirm dates, but need to choose backing fabric. Thanks to all those who have provided leaves.
Walking -  will start again in March, with a walk to and in Havering museum.
Choir - Two new members, going strong.
Collectors - The only times available at Tescos were on Friday and Saturday, so this is being shelved for the moment. Let Cheryl know if you want to attend the Tina Turner experience by the next meeting and she will also be organising an Albert Hall Christmas outing.
Theatre - Lesley confirmed that this will be West Side Story at Kenneth More on March Friday 13th.
Social group - Eirlys asked for volunteers to organise the August picnic and Christmas meal.

Due to work at Eastbury House, the March meeting will be a week early on 25th February 2015.



This meeting was about Registration - renewing memberships or making a new one and making name badges for those who needed to. Gizelle, our Vice President opened the meeting on behalf of Eirlys, who was unable to attend having broken her leg. She welcomed 48 members and guests to the meeting.

The raffle was held, then Sandra did the January birthdays.

Committee updates were as follows:

Vice President/Events - Gizelle mentioned that the Eastbrookend Fair was taking place on Sunday 7th June. This was one of two events we would attend over summer, the other being the Valance Saturday 24th August fair on 1960s.

Secretary - Rachael read through the resolutions and members voted by raising hands. The resolution with the most votes at 13 was for failing to care. This will be sent to Essex who will tally the votes for all the Essex WIs. The Essex vote will then be sent to the National Federation. Upcoming courses will be sent out via email as usual after the meeting.

Treasurer - Dora reported that the Christmas meeting was a bumper meeting - the loose change jar came to £24.73, with £86 for raffle, covering the cost of the meeting completely. Dora thanked members for their forebearance as she and Jen processed the membership application forms, with receipts either being handed out tonight or as soon as possible.

Registration  - Jen asked that members let her know their names when coming in, so she doesn't miss anyone on the register.

MCS - no update

Baking - no meeting this month.
Book club - Debbie reported that they had had their Christmas meal, which included Secret Santa books where members wrapped up what enjoyed to share with others. The next meeting is 18th February 2015 at Alison's house.
Coffee club - Debbie reminded members that this was at Valance house as usual.
Cinema - Liz reported that the next outing will be the Theory of Everything, Tuesday 13th January 2015. Paddington was very good.
Craft and tablecloth - Dora had two spare tickets for creative crafts at Sundown on Friday 23rd January, please see Dora if you are interested. Dora also advised that the Essex Summer Show had a craft competition section, with entries to be in by end of month for craft. Tablecloth group was meeting on 21st January, will start arranging leaves that members have done, but ask for the rest of the leaves by February meeting. Next Wednesday afternoon craft group will be at Eirlys, evening at Dora's.
Walking - will start again in March, once the weather improves.
Choir - 19th January is the next meeting.
Collectors - will hopefully start this month at Rush Green Tescos, but likely February.
Theatre - west side story at Kenneth More on March Friday 13th. Let Lesley know if you want to attend.
Bonnie suggested a possible new group of a card/games club. Let Bonnie know via First Ladies email address if you are interested in attending.

Next meeting will be 4th February 2015. Due to work at Eastbury House, the March meeting will be a week early on 25th February 2015.




Eirlys welcomed 46 members and guests to our Christmas party meeting. In order to allow for members to relax and enjoy themselves, the updates were given at the start of the meeting.

Committee updates:

President: Eirlys received two cards from Liz Buxton and Noak Hill. She asked that members fill out a form so we can feed back to Essex Federation why we are not attending events and what events we would like to support. [Thanks for all the members that filled out the forms and if you haven't yet but want to give your opinion, please contact Rachael]. Eirlys attended the Brentwood baton event, met the mayor at the Sugar Hut. The Bunting we contributed to will next be used for the 2015 centenary of the Essex Federation. Any ideas for celebrating centenary next year, maybe in September, are welcomed. The Baton is now with Kent.
Eirlys also mentioned the Ingrebourne group meeting, which will be held at Harold Hill community centre. The speaker will talk about 100 years of WI, £6 for cream tea, Buck's Fizz on arrival. We are in charge of jam and cake stall.
January meeting will be when we update membership and will need to cover resolutions.
Also, we have now started an alphabetic list of names for the tea rota. Check when you are listed and if you want to swap with someone, that's fine. We have decided on this way forward to ensure everyone has a turn.

Secretary: Rachael reported there were no new events, but she had also received two cards from Harold Hill and Brentwood Homestead.Rachael also asked that members support the  Ingrebourne meeting if possible, as the other WIs in the group have been very welcoming.

Events: Gizelle mentioned Handmade in Barking, Barking library, 10-4 on 6th December, let Gizelle know if you can attend.

Treasurer: Dora had no update, but had put a copy of the Midterm budget on the table.

Registration: Jen had no updates.

Mary Yarwood has been co-opted onto the committee and will be covering MCS.

Baking - January 2015
Book club - dinner next Friday Moby Dick
Coffee club - 17th December at Valance house
Cinema - next Tuesday for Paddington
Craft and tablecloth - meal next week, meet again after Christmas, 2nd week January. If you want to make Sinai warren payments, can do, or pay full in March. Tablecloth, take a piece of cloth, embroider your name in the leaf. Presidents in roses. Please give back by February.
Walking - November First World War very good. December Christmas tree festival also very good. Marie was also presented with flowers and a present for the work she has done for the walking club this year.
Choir - first Monday in January, harvest festival was cancelled due to sickness, and at Queens Hospital.
Theatre - west side story at Kenneth More in March.

If you want to start a new group, let us know. Cheryl proposed a collectors group. Tesco's community room in Roneo Corner. She will ask for names in January. Eirlys suggested people look at blogs, previous meetings. We will review forum use, as it isn't getting much traffic at the moment.

Kim doing a crafternoon tea, giving to mind £15 to take part, 2-5pm on 14th December, Dagenham Methodist Church.

Lowry Road Dagenham Frozen Christmas lights worth viewing.

After mulled apple juice provided by Gizelle and Carol and mince pies provided by Eirlys, we had a mega raffle and birthday wishes.
Cheryl won the Christmas cracker competition - congratulations Cheryl!

Then Ladies with Voices sang
  • I do, I do, I do by Abba
  • Silent Night
  • Twelve days of Christmas w accompaniement 
  • Dance the night away
With help from the other members. The next meeting is on January 7th and will cover membership renewal and the resolutions.




Eirlys welcomed 38 members and guests to a slightly chaotic start as the tables we had expected were not set up for a crafty evening. After Colin the caretaker's heroic effort to bring up the tables, we soon got sorted and ready to go.

Eirlys fed back the results of the survey, which was that we should stay at Eastbury. She also asked member to think about
1. Ideas for charity to support
2. Ideas for fundraising
3. Volunteers for committee - Gizelle now Vice President. Need MCS, publicity, and another member as well
4. Tea making bags - we need a volunteer to take these home. 

The main events was making Christmas crackers. With instruction from Eirlys, members and guests created a Christmas cracker - thanks to everyone who brought in the toilet roll inserts! - in preparation for next month's Christmas cracker competition. After preparing a piece of paper 30x20cm, sticking on a snap and rolling up three toilet roll inserts, and preparing hats, Eirlys went through the tricky operation of moving the cardboard tubes an inch, then twisting and tying both ends, remembering to add the hat and other inserts before you do the second. 

Birthday wishes for 4 was done by Alison and Lorna was back for the raffle. 

Committee updates were:
President - Brentwood centenary event will be on 29th November. Craft groups are making a bunting pennant for the stall, which will then be joined with others for Essex centenary in 2017. This event includes  a bake off of a tray bake, if you want to have a go, get the recipe from Eirlys. They are also asking for a recycled Christmas decoration. Eirlys also reported that she had received a letter from Linus, thanking us for the blankets and other goods. Sheila also gave her a thank you letter from McMillan, for all the money raised at her event in August. Eirlys reassured members that any members can knit blankets for Linus, you don't have to be part of craft group. Photos during meetings, was going to be Melissa. Any volunteers let us know or the Secretary will be taking them, see the results above and keep in mind I've been told I hold a camera like I'm holding a dead chicken. Eirlys announced that we will now be providing a bursary for Denham college of £200, which the winning member can put towards a course, share with a friend or pass to someone else if they don't want it. We will normally choose the winner out of a hat in October as part of our anniverary celebrations, but doing this month because the committee only decided on this at the last committee meeting. The winner for this year is Sally Carter, congratulations Sally!
Treasurer - showed the projected budget. There were some difficulties between the laptop and the projector, so this will be circulated to members next meeting. Dora reported that as a group, we had nearly £4k in May. So we could buy projector, though we do need some money in case of emergencies. We rely on the refreshments and the raffle to break even for the meetings, and can claim back tax through gift aid. Hall hire with projector is £91.50; if we bought our own projector a member would need to keep it and bring it to meetings with a screen. Having already raised refreshment prices, our income is close to outgoings and while we could do some fundraising for income, at the moment we are keeping a balance and do not require a donation at the meetings.
Secretary - Unfortunately we didn't win the ballot for the Southend baton event and the Tilbury baton event was cancelled. Otherwise, the new courses and the essex federation meeting were mentioned and will be circulate via email.
Events - Gizelle, also our new Vice President, had no new events to talk about but did mention that volunteers are needed for the tea rota.
Registration - Jennifer had no updates
MCS and Publicity currently vacant.
Please let the committee know if you are interested in being co-opted.

Group updates:
Baking - Eirlys reported that the 11th October meeting they baked scones, which were very presentable. The next baking meeting will be in new year.
Book and coffee - 1.30 at oasis for coffee as always, book club Christmas dinner is on 12th December.
Cinema - Liz had been unwell, but would be looking to start again this month. Look out for her email.
Craft - Dora is reviewing the meetings, craft group Christmas meal is also coming up
Walking - WW1 walk 8th November, with 29th November walk in Upminster planned.
Choir - no messages, but will be leading carols at our next meeting.

Louise won cupcake competition, well done Louise! We enjoyed eating the efforts of those who didn't want to take theirs home. Thanks for Colin for judging.

December 3rd will be our Christmas party, so bring along any secret santa (£2 for the gift) and Christmas crackers for the competition.




Our October meeting was opened by our President Eirlys in the East Gallery. Eirlys welcomed 40 members and guests.
Our speaker was Philip McDonnell, who spoke very convincingly about the possible connections between the Bayeux Tapestry and Barking Abbey. Having run through some startling statistics on the tapestry itself - 220ft long, with about 30ft missing - Philip went through the evidence for who paid for the tapestry, which he argued was most likely Odo of Bayeux, William the Conquerer's half brother. Odo's lands abutted Barking Abbey, who were second to swear fealty to William after the conquest. The drawings for the tapestry were made in Canterbury, which had no nunnery to carry out the embroidery. The usual place argued for the embroidery is Wilton Abbey in Winchester, but this was a week from Canterbury vs two days for Barking. Wilton Abbey was home to Edrward the Confessor's queen, Eadgyth, who was Harold's sister. It is unlikely she would be happy to have her brother shown as an oathbreaker. Philip convinced us!

As it was our 4th birthday, there was cake. .

Sandra did the birthday wishes for October. Joan carried out the raffle in Lorna's absence.

Committee updates
  • President - Eirlys asked members to note on prepared cards whether they wanted to stay at Eastbury or look at other options. There were still tickets for the baton event in Tilbury, but Southend was oversubscribed, so will be done by lottery.
  • Treasurer - Dora is on holiday so no update
  • Secretary - Rachael reported no new events.
  • MCS - Jo has had to step down from the committee due to her new Masters course.
  • Events - Gizelle was unwell, so had to go home. However, Punchdrunk theatre co told us about their St Ethelburga Hallow Fair, to be held at Eastbury from 31st October to 2nd November.
  • Publicity - Debbie had no updates
  • Registration - Jen had no updates

  Group updates - check the links for further details
  • Book group - 15th October at Margaret's for book club
  • Coffee club -  Usual location, Oasis cafe every 3rd Wednesday
  • Cinema - no updates
  • Craft - Still vacancies on Thursday
  • Walking - Marie reported the butcher led walk went very well. 4th October was due for the guided tour around Wilton's music hall. 8th November will be a WW1 themed walk around Westminster.
  • Choir - meeting every other Monday. Will be singing at St Elizabeth's for harvest festival 5th October, the choir's first public performance
  • Theatre - Eirlys will add to the blog
  • Baking - Eirlys reported it will be 11th October for scone making
  • Tablecloth - no update
Eirlys asked if members want to continue the baking competition. It's a pound to enter and everyone works to the same or similar recipe. Members agreed and six decorated cupcakes was decided on as the bake. If you are entering, put your name under your plate.
Eirlys also asked for volunteers to keep the tea things and the urns and bring them into meetings.

After mentioning that the next meeting would be making a Christmas table decoration, for which we should bring in bits of greenery, Eirlys declared the end of meeting.

First Ladies dates

  • 4th October   -  Walk for Wilton's Music Hall
  • 5th October   -  Choir's first performance at St Elizabeth's harvest festival
  • 15th October  -  Book club
  • 8th November - WW1 walk

Essex Federation dates

Will be emailed to members

National Federation dates

Will be emailed to members



Our September meeting was opened by our President Eirlys in the East Gallery. Eirlys welcomed 43 members and guests.
Eirlys notified the group of an increased price for refreshments up to 50p tea and coffee, 20p for couple biscuits, 30p for cake vote at end.This is to help cover the increased cost of using Eastbury as our venue. Suggestions for other, cheaper venues were welcomed and a vote on possibilities will be made sometime over the next couple of meetings. Eirlys also congratulated Sheila on her Macmillian afternoon tea, which raised £520. Sheila thanked everyone who baked cakes and came. The money will go to Macmillan nurses

Our speaker was Rita Fisher, ambassador for guide dogs, who attended with her dog Dana. Rita went through the history of the guide dogs, which breeds are used and how they are trained. Puppy walkers, who help house train the dogs, are always needed as volunteers. Rita also talked about her experiences with her two dogs, the first of which retired, but still lived with her family. Rita stressed the importance of not distracting the dogs while working and in looking after your eyesight.

Sandra did the birthday wishes for September. There was no raffle as Lorna was away.

Committee updates
  • President - Eirlys reported that Handmade in Dagenham worked ok as a publicity event, though not as many people attended as at previous events. The August Picnic at Valance was enjoyed by 13-14 people as the rain held off. We also attended the Valence family history fair and spoke to lots of people. Other notices included that on 24th September Quickfit will be having a ladies night related to basic car maintenance.  Ask Eirlys for the number if you want to attend. Also Barking United Reform church are holding a craft event on Saturday 6th September. The WI Centenary baton will be at  Southend, pier and back again, on 28th October. It is £7.50 for fish and chips. Tilbury will also hold a baton event on Tuesday 2nd November. Eirlys also reminded those attending about the Poppy factory visit. Also, Frances has asked for more volunteers for tea rota.
  • Treasurer - Dora told the group tha we were paying about £40 for hire of the room, and this now costs £72. Tea and coffee and raffle used to cover, but now don't. We may also have to consider buying our own projector. If you are going to be a new member, can pay in October for fifteen months, hand to Jan and Jo as Dora will be away next mnoth. Fees for 2015 are going up to £36, which means £17 to us, £11 to Essex, rest to NFWI. Dora asked if members agreed to tea/coffee price rises? This was an unanimous yes. Dora asked for members to email any Hall ideas, which will be investigated, short listed, then members will be asked to vote on options. 
  • Secretary - Rachael ran through the upcoming events and will check if open day at NFWI still to come.
  • MCS - Jo had no notices.
  • Events - Gizelle added that for the history fair, we had singing as well. No events coming up at moment, but if any do, she will let members know via blog and email. 4th October one space available for murder mystery at Eastbury manor. 
  • Publicity - Debbie on holiday
  • Membership - Jen had no notices

  Group updates - check the links for further details
  • Book group - Debbie on holiday so no report.
  • Coffee club -  Usual location, Oasis cafe every 3rd Wednesda, though this is under threat of closure.
  • Cinema - Liz will start looking, 3rd Tuesday of the month for the next visit though.
  • Craft - Dora reported that the groups have started making a sparkling Christmas tree. There are still spaces on Thursday evening.
  • Walking - Marie reported that Wiltons won't confirm 11 October, but she is still working on trying to get a date out of them. Smithfield is going ahead on 20th September, and she will see if our walk guide will repeat if i is popular. We are due to meet 9am Barking Station
  • Choir - meeting every other Monday. Will be singing at St Elizabeth's for harvest festival 5th October.
  • Theatre - Lesley reported that Kenneth More Theatre doesn't have much in the way of possibilities at the moment, though there is a 40th anniversary show coming up. She will keep an eye out. 
  • Baking - Eirlys will have more info in October, but aims to make scones at the next Baking group meeting.
After group updates and announcing that next meeting will be Philip McDonnell talking about the Bayeux - or Barking? - tapestry, Eirlys declared the end of meeting.

First Ladies dates

  • 11th September   -  Poppy Factory tour at Richmond
  • 17th September   -  Tea at Oasis Cafe (Valence House)  1.30pm to 3.30pm
  • 20th September  -  Walk around Smithfield with talk and Demonstration by butcher.  See Marie or access information on the forum through First Ladies Blog.

Essex Federation dates

Will be emailed to members

National Federation dates

Will be emailed to members




Our July meeting was opened by Vice President Jo in the East Gallery. Jo welcomed 34 members and guests.
We had a wonderful demonstration of mini bridge, with about 24 members getting instruction from Paul and Linda Graham from the Upminster Bridge School. Mini bridge is the simpler form of the game, which was fun to play and obviously quite addictive once you get started. Anyone interested in taking lessons in the game should contact Rachael, who can provide the details of getting in touch with Paul. Marie thanked Paul and Linda for attending and Gizelle presented them with chocolates and wine.

The raffle was held and Sandra did birthday wishes for the July and August birthdays for members. Carol and Mary performed the tea and coffee duties.

Committee updates
  • Jo went through the list of upcoming summer events (see below). Jo also mentioned that on 23rd August, Sheila will be holding a coffee afternoon for Macmillan cancer charity. Pat Thomson collected the blankets and other items knitted by members for project Linus at the last coffee club and thanked everyone for their time.
  • Events - Handmade in Dagenham, there is a sheet for volunteers, but Gizelle reported that we don't need too many people as this is a promotional event with the  Dagenham Dames WI. It's the same situation for the 30th August Local and Family History Fair, but do contact Gizelle if you are interested in volunteering.
  • Secretary - Rachael read out Essex federation news (see below). Dora also mentioned that as part of centenary celebrations, products are on sale eg badges £5, mugs, etc.
  • Treasurer - Dora, with some relief, said that we had finally got approval for signing. Reminder for new member if start October, you will get 15 months for price of 12 this year. Membership will be pro rata next year.
  • Neither Debbie (Promotions), Jo (MCS) nor Jen (registration) had updates for those areas.

  Group updates - check the links for further details
  • Book group - next meeting will be held on 16 July.
  • Coffee club -  usual location, Oasis cafe every 3rd Wednesday and meeting in August so next dates are 16 July, 20 August.
  • Cinema - Liz iz on holiday.
  • Craft - Dora reported that she is trying to organise a residential Warner Leisure Hotel away break next June. We will need to organise coach, so need to know by end of meeting how many people will want to go. Frances has leaflets. Only five single rooms. Dora will email so members not at the meeting can show if they want to go. Dora will update on where craft clubs will be while she's on leave, will be running through August.
  • Walking - Marie reported that the Walking grouplovely long walk Leigh on sea to Southend.There will be no organised walks July and August. September still plan on a walk around Smithfields, though may have the free walk in September as well. October still hoping to do Wiltons Music Hall but need to confirm date. It's provisionally 11 October
  • Choir -Cheryl reported that Brenda had supplied a percussion unit.
  • Theatre - Lesley reported that she is looking at September and October possibilities.
After group updates, Jo declared the end of meeting.

First Ladies dates

12th July – Handmade in Dagenham – Dagenham Library  - 2pm until 5.30pm. Contact Gizelle if interested.
15th July – Theatre Trip – Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at The Savoy Theatre 7.30pm. £39.50 (minimum group is 6) Contact Eirlys if interested.
16th July – Coffee Club at Oasis Café, Valance House 1pm – 3pm
16th August – First Ladies picnic at Valence House – from 12 noon onwards, family and pets welcome
30th August – Local and Family History Fair – Valence House – 10am until 4 pm. Contact Dora if interested. You can dress up in historical costume if you wish.
June 2015 - Residential weekend trip. Contact Dora if interested.

Craft club dates

9th and 10th July at Dora’s house
23rd July afternoon group at Eirlys’s house
23rd July evening group at Becki’s house.
24th evening group tbc
Next Table Cloth Group meeting  Wednesday 20th August at Dora’s

Essex Federation dates

Darts tournament for 2015 – forms in by 31st July 2014
Bulphan WI open meeting – Women in Islam - 13th August 2014
Antiques afternooon - 14th August 2014
Galleywood WI Craft demonstration day - 11th September 2014
Sewing machine applique ‘Letters, hearts and flowers’ – 23rd September 2014
Royal School of Needlework visit – 17th November 2014
Essex Federation summer show 2015 – categories for competition entry include
Co-operative, Floral, Cookery, Crafts – form in by 31st January 2015

National Federation dates

Member’s Open Day, Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th October 2014, Morning session 11 – 1.15pm, Afternoon session 2 – 4.15pm. Deadline for bookings is 31st July 2014.
In since the July meeting:
Nomination forms for next NFWI Board must be in by 24 October 2014.
2015 annual meeting will be held 4th June 2015. Resolution submission for the AM agenda to be sent in by 12 September 2014.
Mail out also included information on the Organ Donation resolution, which I’ll bring to the next meeting.




Our June meeting was opened by new President Eirlys in the old hall downstairs as the lift was not working. Eirlys welcomed 46 members and 4 guests, so a well attended meeting.

Ladies with voices, the group's choir, sang two selections of music either side of the open craft and chat part of the meeting. Their first song was Jerusalem and their second set included Breaking up is Hard to do and Oom-pah-pah, which we were encouraged to join in with. Both selections were very well received.

Along with the craft, group members were also asked for suggestions for future meetings, which yielded lots of ideas for Gizelle, the returning Programme and Events organiser, to think about!

The raffle was held and Alison did birthday wishes as Sandra was unable to attend. Any August birthdays will be included next month due to there being no meeting in August.

Committee updates
  • The new committee were introduced. Aside from Eirlys and Gizelle both mentioned above,  Jo has taken the roles of Vice President and retains membership (MCS), Rachael is now the Secretary, Dora is the Treasurer, Debbie is the Promotions organiser, and Jen continues to manage registration.
  • As a thank you for the outgoing comittee members, flowers were presented to Viv and Alison, and will also be given to Melissa, who was unable to attend the meeting.
  • Gizelle gave an update of recent/current events 
    • next month will be a bridge and games night, with a bridge coach in attendance to teach us how to play. 8-10 volunteers are needed for bridge and please bring in other games.
    • Handmade in Dagenham at Dagenham Library will be held on July 12th between 2-5.30pm. We will have a table to promote ourselves with Dagenham Dames, so please let Gizelle know if you want to volunteer for this event.
    • Eastbrookend was very busy and went well. Gizelle thanked all who volunteered. Tombola, cakes and craft all went well. Gizelle also thanked Kathy for making cake. If this event takes place next year, we will definitely attend.
  • Rachael ran through the correspondence received. Any upcoming events through the Essex or National Federations will be added to this page of the blog with the dates we must respond by if we want to attend any of them.
  • Dora reported a profit at £250.98 for Eastbrookend.
  • Debbie mentioned the business cards that were still available. Members should contact Debbie if they want any to hand out.
  • Neither Jo nor Jen had updates.

  Group updates - check the links for further details
  • Book group - next meeting will be held on 16 July.
  • Coffee club - will take place as usual at Valence House on 18th June at 1.30pm
  • Cinema - please contact Liz if you have any suggestions of films you want to see.
  • Craft - Dora reported that the Thursday group is developing. Please let her know if you are interested in joining it. Cathy is starting a day group. As part of the WI centenary celebrations, First Ladies will be doing a table cloth, which will have a special group, meeting 18 June in the evening. Contact Dora if you want to be involved
  • Walking - Marie reported that last month's walk was a free walk  around St. Paul's secret parts of City. Upcoming walks include Leigh on Sea to Southend on June 21st with the group meeting 10.30am at Barking station, then 10.45 am at Upminster. Having investigated Race for Life, we have missed the local walks, but will do Race for Life next year. However, we can do the Star walk on 5th July for St Francis hospice in Romford. In October. we can potentially see Wiltons Music hall  on the 11th. This is £6 a head, with 15 or more members needed to attend.
  • Choir - Cheryl reported that the next meeting was 16 June, new members welcome
  • Theatre - Lesley report that the next trip the Friday following the meeting to High Society.  Lesley will update on the September trip next meeting. Also, if members wanted to see Dirty Rotten Scoundrels on 15th July, please contact Eirlys
After group updates. Eirlys declared the end of meeting.

Upcoming events - Essex and National Federations. 

Please contact Rachael if you want to attend/need further information about any of the following:
19/07/2014 dabble your toes fun day at Hatfield Peverel book by 19/6/2014
19/8/2014 national portrait gallery visit book by 8/7/2014
13/9/2014 Great War tour book by 14/8/2014
15-16/10/2014 open day at NFWI headquarters book by 31/07/2014
3-5/7/2015 federation visit to Denham book by 31/10/2014
Raffle tickets still available




Tonight was our Annual Meeting.

Alison welcomed everyone and introduced the tellers from Dagenham Dames - Anne and Paulette. The ballot was opened at this point and whilst that was going on members could watch the rolling presentation, buy their raffle ticket and of course follow our favourite pursuit - chatting. Copies of the financial statement and the committee review were available to read also.
When the ballot was declared closed the ordinary business of the meeting was continued with birthday wishes, raffle drawn and committee members and group updates.

  • Alison gave us an update of the Inspiring Women Working Together Conference she went to.  She found it very useful and she was able to exchange views and ideas with other WI Presidents.
  • Secretary.  Orders for bulbs must be in tonight and there are still tickets on sale for the National Federation raffle -- Top prize of £5000!!
  • On 1st June we are running a stall at the Eastbrookend Country Park Summer Fete and Gizelle wanted volunteers to run the stall,  to bake and for donations for the tombola.
  • Book Club. Next Meeting will be held at Frances' house on 14th May at 7.30pm
  • Tea and coffee at  Valence Oasis Cafe will be on 21st May at 1.30pm.
  • Craft Club.   There is an Applique workshop to be held at the Log Cabin on June 3rd. There are still spaces available.
  • Ladies with voices will meet as usual on the first and third monday evenings of the month.
Once the normal business was over it was then time for the annual meeting business. 
Viv presented the financial statement and proposed their adoption. This was seconded by Sue Phillipe and a vote by hand was unanimous.
Eirlys presented the Annual Committee Review and asked for it to be adopted by a show of hands. This was unanimous and so the Annual review was adopted.
Alison gave her presidents address. When she started last year she had  a few ambitions for example to increase member numbers  and to visit other WIs.  We have increased our numbers but she only managed to visit one other WI !
The Presidents address was adopted by an unanimous show of hands.
The results of the ballot were then given  as follows
REGIS Gizelle.

A ballot for president was then held since two members of the new committee were candidates.  The result of the balllot is that EIRLYS GILBERT is the new President of First Ladies WI.

At this point the meeting was closed by Alison and the rest of the time was social time with tea/coffee and food provided by Dora.

Next Meeting will be on 4th June 2014


Tonight Melissa presided and welcomed 36 members and 5 visitors.  After the usual housekeeping points she took us through  the procedure that we will be following at our Annual meeting next month. We were reminded about what being a member of the committee entails and encouraged to think about applying to become one. The closing date for applications to be given in is 9th April. There are forms available and Dora will take a photograph so that they can be displayed on a board next meeting so that everyone knows who the nominees are when the election takes place.
After the tea break  we had the presentation of an Easter Egg to the best grown Daffodil.  Colin the caretaker made the decision and Louise  was the lucky winner.
After the raffle we had the Birthday wishes and fascinating facts from Sandra!
We then had notices and updates from the committee and clubs.
  • Barking Mad are putting on a production of "High Society" from the 5th to 7th June.  Lesley is going to get the tickets and will be taking names .
  • Gizelle - there is a Summer fair being held at Eastbrookend on the 1st June. We will be looking for people to man the stall and donate items for a tombola etc.
  • Alison gave us feed back of the Essex Fed Annual Meeting that she and Gizelle attended . There were 1600 people at the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend. The new trustees of the Essex Federation were elected and there were speakers. The main  speaker was Michael Portillo who apparently was an excellent speaker. It will be the Essex Federations centenery  in 2017 and they are planning various events and are looking for needlewomen to stitch a banner/frieze.  There is also a trip in August to Anglesey to visit where first ever WI was held. this will be over 2 days and more information can be found in the Essex News magazine.
  • BOOK CLUB.  The next meeting will be on 14th may and details can be seen on the Blog.
  • The next Tea/coffee club will be at the Oasis Cafe at Valence House on 16th April.
  • CINEMA.  films seen last monthe were "Book Thief" and "Grand Budapest Hotel"  Liz will contact us with the next outing.
  • WALKING. Next outing is to Kew on 19th April. (entry to Kew is £14.50)  Meet at Barking station at 9.30am - see forum.
  • CHOIR.  the choir are going great guns and are increasing their repetoire! They meet at St Elizabeth's Church, Wood Lane at 7.30pm on 1st and 3rd monday of each month.
  • THEATRE. last outing was to see Grease at theKenneth More Theatre which was very good.
  • Eastbury Manor have two evenings when there are authors present.  8th April - Jean Fullerton an ex district nurse and13th May - Joanna Hickson, Elizabeth Fremantle and Jenny Barden (Queens, Heroines and Heartache)  Each costs £5 including a glass of wine and starts at 7pm.
  • CRAFT. group are going to the Craft Fair at the Exel on thursday.
  • BAKING.  there will be a workshop on saturday making Hot Cross Buns at St Marys Church in Grafton Road . 10pm -12noon. Please see Eirlys .

Next meeting is on 7th May 2014 and will be our Annual Meeting.




Tonight Alison welcomed 39 members and 2 visitors. After the usual housekeeping we were entertained to a look at what happens when the London Underground is used for filming. 
 Shirley from the the office that deals with this aspect of the underground gave us a very interesting talk about how it is used for films, adverts, music videos and magazines.
There are 250 uderground stations and using any of them as a location can cost from £500 to £1800.  Before any filming can go ahead permits have to be bought and filming is done overnight or at weekends. The office always checks the scripts and layouts since the Underground likes to be seen in a good light.  These days smoking (even e-cigarettes), busking and the use of firearms or any other weapons are not allowed. The journey of a script to screen can be seen on the website  The  following are some of the commercials and films made on the London  Underground -  Marks and Spencers Advert, Rimmel advert, films -  Sherlock Holmes,  Hereafter, Cyberman, Bourne Ultimatum (Waterloo station),  Walking Dead should be out soon (Charing Cross), The Aldwych is often used as an Air Raid Shelter, Harry Potter, Paddington Bear will be out soon and St.Johns Wood was used, Skyfall and many, many more. So next time you venture underground  or watch a film see if you recognise any of the Underground Stations!

During the tea break more freebies from the Crime Prevention Team were given out.
After the tea break Sandra gave all this months birthday ladies a card and with each one came a fascinating fact. Thank you to Sandra for setting this up. If you want to be part of this then please put your name on the list in the correct month - no need to disclose your age!! If you want to donate some spare cards then hand them to Sandra with your name in pencil on the back - you don't want your own card back!!!

Committee and Club updates.

  • There is a Business World Craft Fair on 16th March 10.30am - 4.30pm at the Becontree Leisure Centre.  We have a table booked and could do with people to volunteer their time or maybe to just go along and support us.
  • Alison and Gizelle will be attending the Essex Federation  AGM on Friday. The Speaker is Michael Portillo and they will no doubt tell us all about it next month.
  • It will be our Annual Meeting in May and we would like anyone who is interested to think about putting themselves forward to be part of the committee.There will be more details next month.
  • Dora would like to update our poster and would welcome any ideas. 
  • The Daffodil competition comes to us next month. If your Daffodil has bloomed  then take a photo before it dies and bring it along. Remember to write your name on the back.
  • If you have any problems receiving the WI Life then see Jo
  • Bake Club. Next workshop will be on 5th April and we will be making Hot cross buns. Please see Eirlys for details.
  • Book Club. Next meeting is on 19th March at Eirlys' house.  Please see the Blog for details of books to be read.
  • Coffee Club. Oasis cafe at Valance House.  19th April at 1.30pm
  • Craft Club.  The usual sessions have been running. Some members are knitting poppies which is in conjunction with the Womans Weekly and others have been making knitted ducks to hold creme eggs!
  • Singing Club. Ladies with Voices are having a great time building up their repetoire of songs. Thanks to Sheila for allowing her keyboard to be used.
  • Walking Club.  The last walk was  very muddy and full of incident but ended up with a meal at the Miller and Carter in Hainault. Next walk will be to Kew Gardens on 13th April. This will be a full day and starts by meeting at Barking station at 9.30am
  • Theatre. Lesley has the tickets for Grease being produced at Kenneth More Theatre, Ilford this friday.  Barking Mad are putting on High Society on 5th - 7th June and Lesley will be taking names for tickets at the next meeting.
  • Eastbury. Jean Fullerton, a writer and ex district nurse will be speaking on 8th April at 7pm.
  • Melissa is going to try and get tickets for the preview of the new West End production of Made in Dagenham.
  • Film Club. Liz will let members know dates to go with her and see "Book Thief" and "Grand Budapest Hotel"

The next meeting will be on 2nd April and will be an in-house meeting.



Tonight Alison welcomed 39 members and 3 visitors.
 After the usual domestics we welcomed Penny and Georgina who spoke to us about Crime prvention.  They are part of the neighbourhood Crime Reduction team and they explained that they attend Ward Panel meetings and work with the local Police neighbourhood teams. They often have street meetings where they have identified problems. They visit all areas of the borough and are now teaching Road safety to all primary schools including on bikes. Barking and Dagenham run the Safer Homes Project  which aims to help everyone living in the Borough. They will come and check your house especially if you have been the victim of a crime.  After giving us lots of information about how to ensure our own safety we were able collect lots of freebies to help keep us safe. 
After the tea break we had updates from the committee members and club leaders.
  • A trip to see Grease at the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford on 7th March has been organised by Lesley.
  • Baking workshop will be held on Saturday 8th Feb. at St Marys Church Hall from 10am and 12noon. Please see Eirlys if you would like to attend.
  • Ladies with Voices have started really well. Please see the Blog for details.
  • We are still looking for someone to lead our scrapbook group. In the meantime if you have completed a page for our First Ladies Scrapbook then please bring it to the next meeting.
The result of the  First Ladies voting for the resolution to be sent on to the Essex federation was for the Campaign against genital Mutilation.  The resolution with the most votes from each WI will be counted and published before the National Annual General Meeting.
Sandra has offered to take on the Birthday greetings slot of our meetings. So thank you very much Sandra!!
The next meeting will be on 5th March and we have a talk entitled "Going Underground".



Happy New Year Everyone!

Alison our president welcomed thirty nine members and five visitors to our meeting tonight.  It was registration and payment  time so Viv, Jen and Melissa were the smiling ladies asking for your money!!   After the usual domestics we broke up and had time to pursue some crafting or discussions about the programme for 2014, find out about what our clubs are up to and discuss what else we might like to be doing during meetings.

After the tea break and the raffle we had updates from the committee and club leaders.
Eirlys -  The annual Meeting for the Essex Federation will be held at the Cliffs Pavilion, Southend on 7th March. If anyone would like to attend please let me know.
Please look at the Essex News to check for upcoming courses and events being held at Hatfield Peveral. 
Bake club - The next workshop will be held on 8th Feb at St Marys Church Hall, 10am - 12noon. 
 Gizelle -  The next event we could be attending will be the St Georges event at Valence which will be in March
Dora -  The handbook has now been completed and distributed to all fully paid up members. Badges will be on sale as usual.
Viv - thank you to everyone for paying their fees which went well.
A couple of ideas have been put forward by members who are willing to organise them.
Jo has spoken to lots of members about having Yoga sessions during the summer months in a local park and this was weel received.  More details when the warmer weather arrives!
Lesley has spoken to people about going to the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford to see "Grease" on 7th March .  If this is successful maybe we can go to future productions there or even Queens Theatre in Hornchurch.
A request is being made for donations of items suitable for the raffle - a good way to recycle unwanted gifts!!! This is a way of fund raising and thanks to Lorna and Liz it is running successfully. 
Thank you to Frances for organising the tea making.  Can you all please sign up to make tea - choose your month and make a note of it.  If everyone takes part it would be much easier.
The next meeting will be on 5th February and there will be a presentation from the local Crime Prevention team.




Tonight Alison welcomed    members and   visitors.  This was our Christmas celebration and there was plenty of food and drink. After the usual domestics there were updates from the clubs.
Craft - Christmas meal will be at  Brewers Fayre in Dagenham next wednesday.
Cinema - next one tomorrow night at Vue to see Saving Mr Banks.
Walking - next one is on Dec 23rd to see the Christmas lights. At the end of
January it is proposed to have a walk in Hainault Forest.
Book Club - Christmas meal was last week and list of next books to read is on the Book Club page.
Coffee Club - meeting 18th Dec at the Oasis Cafe, Valence House at 1.30pm
Singing - First meeting will be on 6th Jan, St Elizabeths hall at 7pm.
Baking -  next workshop hopefully will be end of January.
Committee Members updates. 
Jen - anyone who does not have access to e-mail can they please make sure Jen has their phone number. This is in case we have bad weather and have to cancel a meeting we can then contact you.
Dora - Badges and spring bulbs are still for sale.  We are now on Facebook and Twitter and if you feel brave enough please use them!!!
Viv - reminder that January is the meeting for renewing membership. Envelopes are available for members to take home and fill in before next meeting.
Events - Hand made in Dagenham. We ran a stall and it was a busy afternoon.
There is a new WI group started in Dagenham. Dagenham Dames will be meeting on the first tuesday of every month at 1pm.

Our  Festive quiz was next prepared and run by Melissa.  Questions were not as easy as they looked and there were three sets of winners.  Well done to Mary and Margaret, Janet and Gizelle, Janice and Sheila!
Thank you to all who donated food for our break and especially to Mary for making Mulled Apple juice. 
After the eating, drinking and chatting we then sang Carols with Cheryl leading us. Thank you very much Cheryl .  This was enjoyed by all and was a very apt way to end the year.
Our next meeting is on 8th January and everyone is wished a very Merry Christmas a Happy New Year.



Our meeting tonight was presided by Dora and she welcomed 35 members and 7 visitors.
We were very lucky tonight to have two speakers.  The first speaker was Steve Cassar and his talk was about his work as a black cab driver in London.  He has been a London cabbie for 12 years and told us a bit about the history of the London Taxi Service which is overseen by the Metropolitan Police.  All Taxi cab drivers have to pass the rigorous "knowledge" and Steve took 2years and 9months to complete it. He told us  a few stories about some of the famous people that have been in the back of his cab e.g.   Michael Caine, Alex Ferguson, Sian Lloyd, Miranda Hart, Liam Gallagher, William Haigh.  We then had a quick quiz about the London Taxi cab service and there were two winners so they had to share the chocolates!  Steve's talk has certainly made us think about Taxi cabs in a different light.
Our second speaker was Elizabeth Abbot and she spoke to us about Guide Dogs.  Again we were taken through a brief history of the setting up of the Guide Dog service.  The first guide dogs were established 82 years ago and the service has no Government funding relying entirely on charity funding. Training a guide  dog takes a lot of money  (£59,000)   and time. After a dog has been matched with a blind person all expenses are paid for by the charity. Elizabeth has had five guide dogs and her present one, Daisy, was of course there with her - a beautiful black labrador.  The dogs work for about nine years and Elizabeth herself says that it has given her freedom, confidence and independance.

During the tea break we were able to buy daffodil bulbs to grow and bring back to one of the Spring meetings to see which one has grown the best!  There was also the raffle which raises much needed funds for us of course.

There were a few updates after the break:-
Reminder that Eastbury Christmas Fair is on the 9th November.  Please come and support our stall!
Handmade in Dagenham is on 1st December. We have a stall and again please support us.
The Royal Opera House Backstage Tour will be on 15th November. Details were given to everyone going.
Cinema Club - 19th November. This will be at the Showcase in Jenkins lane and not at Vue.
20th November - Afternoon meeting at the Oasis Cafe at Valence House. Lots of chat and crafting!
30th November - Walking club

We have the makings of a singing group! One of our new ladies, Cheryl, is willing to lead us so those of you who sing get your voice into gear!! We are going to start with a bit of carol singing at the next meeting!
Certificates for the Cake competition last month were finally presented tonight!
Thank you to Joan and Jo for making the tea.
Next meeting is on December 4th.




This was our Third Anniversary!

This was the beautiful and very tasty cake that Kathy made for us

These were the members present on this night!
Thank you to Mike, Dora's husband for taking all the lovely photos.

This evening was presided by Alison and she welcomed 32 members and 10 visitors.  It was a very busy evening as usual.
After the introductions and Domestics we welcomed Pat Thompson from the charity Linus. She spoke to us about this charity which provides blankets (knitted, crocheted and sewn) to hospitals for premature babies and very ill children.  Our local hospitals are some of the  recipients of these blankets. A presentation was made by Dora, of blankets knitted and crocheted by the craft club.

 Afterwards we had our tea-break and spent time doing some crafts. Thank you to Liz  for overseeing the making of Christmas cards.  Of course the tea was accompanied by a delicious piece of  the anniversary cake.

We also had our annual baking competition tonight which was judged by Eirlys during the tea break. This year we had two categories and the winners were :
Four decorated cup cakes  -  Viv  
Four rock cakes   -   Alison
They will share the care of the trophy this year  - six months each!

After doing the raffle Alison thanked everyone for coming and reminded us that the next meeting is on Nov 6th. 




Belly Dancing with Leanne and Sally

We welcomed 30 members and 5 visitors tonight and started the evening downstairs in the Small Hall.  We were welcomed by Alison and introduced to Leanne and Sally who were our belly dancing instructors for the evening.  After being issued with our jingly skirts about a dozen of us participated in the dancing much to the hilarity of those not taking part!!. It was a very warm evening and after wiggling and jiggling our hips and boobs I think we all deserved a break and a drink.  At the end Leanne and Sally performed a belly dance which looked a bit better than our attempts! 
After thanking Leanne and Sally we made our way up to the long Gallery for registration and our tea break. This was a chance to catch up after the Summer break and look at the Power Point presentation being played.
Alison Thanked Lorna and Liz for taking on the role of running the raffle and Frances for taking on the role of organising the tea making.
We then had the updates from the committee.
Eirlys - reminded people that we get a monthly newsletter from Essex Federation and two from the National Federation and the relevant information about courses is on the Power Point presentation and on the table at the back.
The Essex News magazine can be ordered from Eirlys.
Gizelle informed us that we will be attending an event at Valence House on the 28th of September. Please look at the Blog for details. If anyone wants to help out let Gizelle know at the end of the meeting.
Viv  - The annual subs have gone up to £34.70 and we were given a breakdown of where the money goes i.e. just under a half comes to our funds and the rest is divided between the National Federation and Essex Federation. We were also reminded about allowing us to claim giftaid. Members were asked about how they felt about the subs going up but the general feeling was that it was still good value for money.
Dora - Our new First Ladies badges are now for sale at £3.50 each and hopefully everyone will buy one.
Clubs Updates.
 Dora - Craft Club.  The craft clubs have been continuing during the Summer and there were two patchwork workshops that were held at the Log Cabin near Brentwood. Some of the items made were displayed by their owners and there are a few that have caught the patchwork bug !!  There are going to be two Christmas patchwork workshops coming up and anyone interested need to see Dora.
Debbie - Book Club. A reminder was given about the books being read this time round. Next meeting is on 25th September. Anyone interested please contact Debbie.
Viv - Theatre Club.  Two productions in the pipeline are Lion King and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.  Anyone interested please see Viv.
Liz - Cinema  club. This is usually the third tuesday of the month at the cinema Goresbrook. Because they only publish films being shown a week before its difficult to make a decision as to what to view until nearer the time.
Marie - Walking club. The first walk was a 2 mile walk around the RSPB centre at Thurrock. The next walk will be around the Olympic park. (£9 meeting at West ham Station).  The Oct/ Nov walk could be a Spooky one!!
Eirlys - baking club.  First workshop was held on 10th Aug. with ten people attending.  The next workshop will probably be in October. More information nearer the time.
Debbie - Valence House Coffee group. This is an informal gathering at the Oasis cafe Valence House on the third wednesday of each month between 1pm and 3pm.  Next one is 18th September.
Next meeting is on October 2nd. This will be an open craft meeting. Members were asked what they would like to be doing. It was suggested that we make a simple  Christmas Card. There will also be the annual cake competition. This year the categories are four rock cakes or four decorated cupcakes. Any recipe can be used. The rules will be published on the Blog.  Cost of entry is £1.



Alison our President welcomed 31 members and 6 visitors this evening.
After the usual housekeeping and birthday greetings we were given the opportunity to hand in the entries for the logo competition.
Updates were then given by members of the committee and clubs. 
We are looking for someone to run the raffle and are still looking for someone to organise the teamaking.  
Our activity tonight  was spending  an hour crafting. Members could watch a demonstration of scrapbooking or do their own thing. Everyone was encouraged to take a page away and produce their own unique page about their life  which will be compiled into a scrapbook about  First Ladies. This will hopefully become part of the First Ladies History! There was some knitting and crocheting going on and one member brought in some jewellry she makes to show us. There was also, of course, an awful lot of chat! It was a very busy hour and tea,coffee and nibbles were free to members tonight.   
During our hour we did lose 10 to 15 minutes due to a fire drill! This was unexpected and has thrown up a few anomalies in the evacuation procedures which hopefully will be remedied by Eastbury.
Whilst the crafting was going on there was a rolling power point presentation  going on informing members about events coming up.
There were eight entries for the logo competition which were whittled down to three by members of the committee. The rest of the members then voted for the one they preferred. The winner was a design submitted by Dora.  Well done Dora. This logo will now be used in a variety of ways and hopefully we will have our own First ladies badges for sale in September.
There will be no meeting in August so our next meeting will be on September  4th when we will hopefully all have a go at belly dancing!!!
Please remember to bring a mug for your tea or coffee.




Tonight we were welcomed by Alison our new President and there were   33     members present with    4    visitors joining us for the evening.

We were given the procedures for emergency evacuation of the Long Gallery and shown where the exits are.  This includes the Spiral staircase that I'm sure many people didn't even know existed!

Our Speaker Tracey Mackness was then introduced and we were thoroughly entertained for the next 45 minutes. 

 It was a story of her life being turned around and how she established her business called Giggly Pigs.  She came from a family of Market Traders (Romford Market) and through many trials and tribulations ended up in prison for several years.  She was eventually placed in the Women's prison in Maidstone and that  was where she became involved with pigs. Up until that point she had completed many courses (over 52!) and was thinking of becoming a fitness trainer when she was released from prison. However at that point she decided to work on the prison farm and in her own words fell in love a pig called Rodney!! Her life from then on was all about pigs. Completing many courses and gaining Level 4 NVQ in Pig husbandry she ended up with the knowledge to set up her very succesful company Giggly Pigs. When she was released from  prison in 2007 she was allowed to buy 30 pigs from the prison farm and from these she has bred and managed to now have 700 pigs on her farm outside Hornchurch. Her company  makes sausages in many flavours and is mainly run through Farmers Markets. They also do Hog Roasts which might be an idea for a future event maybe!!! This is a very shortened version of Tracey's talk but there is a book about her life being published right now called "Jailbird"

Tracey was thanked by Alison and we had our tea break and we were able to taste (samples brought along ) and buy Giggly Pig Sausages. 

After the break Jo gave told us about the Logo/badge competition that is being run with entry forms being given out. The entries need to be brought back next meeting and a  decision was made that the committee will go through them and short list three so that the rest of the group can make the final choice.

An Introduction to the new Committee was made and it was explained that though we had been voting for seven members eight names were inadvertently read out.  Not a problem however because we have co-opted the eighth member. (we are allowed to co-opt up to three new members every year)

Each member introduced themselves and  explained what their role will be.

Alison - President

Melissa  - Vice president

Eirlys  - Secretary

Viv  - Treasurer

Jen - Meet and Greet and register

Gizelle - Calender programme and events

Dora  - Publicity and outreach

Jo - MCS Rep

We will be updating the Blog with more information about the committee very soon!

Craft club.  Dora updated us and said that Kathy is now going to run another daytime session on the first monday of each month in the afternoon.

Book Club. Margaret reminded us about the books to be read and the next meeting.

Please check up on the Groups section of the Blog about all our clubs.


  • There is an Authors talk taking place at Eastbury on 18th June 7-9pm

  • Debbie has suggested that people could meet up at the Valence House cafe for tea,coffee, cakes, chat and maybe some knitting or crochet!
  • It was suggested that we support a local charity. This is something we could do to involve ourselves in the local community.
  • One suggestion was to support the Food bake at St Mary's Church Dagenham

Thank you to Jo and Joan for doing the tea.  Next month it will be Frances and Kathy

The Meeting finished at 9pm

Next meeting will be on the 3rd July when we have an inhouse craft evening





Tonight we were electing a new committee so the first half hour was spent going through the process of voting. Meanwhile everyone was given a slip of paper to write down any ideas for future meetings etc.
We welcomed two members of Wanstead WI to our meeting and they took on the role of tellers.
We started the meeting at 7.30pm with Viv giving the treasurer's report. The books were displayed so everyone could look at them.  At the moment we are doing quite well but we do need to raise funds  so that we can have the option to do more as  a group. The treasurer's report was proposed by Viv and seconded by Melissa and was then agreed by the rest of the members.
Eirlys presented the committee report and copies were available for everyone to take away.Records of each WI meeting was available for everyone to look at as well.
Susanna then gave her President's report and accepted by the members. She described how she had the idea to set up a group for like minded women and found it wanting in Barking and Dagenham.  It took about a year from the initial advert in the paper and since then we have grown and become established as the group we are today. She thanked various people for their roles including Megan who was our secretary for the first year and Maxine who was our Calendar organiser until last year.  Louise thanked Susanna for all her hard work.
The results of the voting was announced by Christine one of the tellers from Wanstead WI and was as follows.
Committee for 2013-2014
Viv Auger
Jo Adams
Dora bowes
Jen Butcher
Eirlys Gilbert
Melissa Lowndes
Gizelle Regis
Alison O'Brien
This was followed by the nomination by the committee of a new President. Only one member agreed that she wanted to be president and Alison O'Brien was accepted by the members as our new President after a show of hands.
We then broke off for a well earned tea break during which the raffle took place.
After the break there were a few notices.
Dora informed the group of a future event being held on Sat 29th June in Hobbycraft, Romford.  We will be taking over their craft table which will be a good way of showcasing our work and WI.
There was a visit to the Craft Exhibition at the excel on the 4thApril by yhr Craft Club.
Denman college was recommended by Dora after she attended a course on Ribbon embroidery in April. There are discounts being given on courses during May and June.
Viv gave an update of the next Theatre visit and the first outing of the film club was announced.
A reminder was given about the Vintage Fair being held at Eastbury on 1st June. There was a request for volunteers to man our stall.
Eirlys needed to know numbers for the Royal Opera House Workshop tour in Thurrock.
Christine from Wanstead talked to us about her WI group and told us about the Flamenco Workshop on 24th May in South Woodford. She left us some flyers and invited us to join them!
Next meeting is on 5th June and is entitled Giggly Pigs!



Our speaker tonight was Linda Rhodes and she works at Valence House. Her subject for tonight was "A selection of Foul Deeds and Disasters in Barking". Her talk and slide show was very interesting and covered a murder and two disasters. The murder happened in 1947 and was of a man named Percy Busby who was a clock and watch repairer but also made money scavenging for scrap metal at Creekmouth.He was found murdered in his house (a gruesome description was given!) and the murderer was apprehended and was eventually hanged at Pentonville in 1948.
The first disaster was the Ajax Factory Disaster. This happened in 1917 and was a huge explosion at the factory which made explosives for the Admiralty.
Thirteen people died and the cause was never found but it was thought that the chemicals being made played a part!
The second disaster was the Princess Alice Disaster in 1878. The Princess Alice was a Pleasure Steamer that went up and down the Thames and was involved in a collision with a Collier ship. It happened just off Creekmouth and Creekmouth in those days was a very isolated village of about 50 cottages on the edge of the Thames. The people of Creekmouth were very involved in rescuing people from the water but unfortunately around 700 people died that night. They believe that changes in the rules for moving up and down the river and an inexperienced helmsman were the cause and of course the river in those days was like an open sewer!!!
  • Reminder that nominations for committee members need to be handed in to the Secretary tonight.
  • Denman college visit. A day can be organised to include two workshops and will cost about £50. A minimum of ten people are needed and at the moment I have seven names. If you want to add your name please e-mail
  • The Royal Opera House workshop visit. There are ten names for this and a booking will be made for either 24 th may or 14th June. Again e-mail the above address if you want to be added.
  • A baking workshop is going to be organised during May or June on a saturday morning. More information will be available soon.
  • We applied for the Borough Colours again this year but again we were unsuccessful having been awarded to the British Legion.
  • We are going to be running a stall at the Vintage Fair here at Eastbury on June 1st and the Garden Party /Summer Fair on July 6th. We will be needing volunteers for both of these.
  • Valence House have a Local Family History Fair in September and we will try and have a presence there as well.
  • Please read the article in the WI Life magazine about the Lets cook Local course that was run by Eirlys last year.
Book club - Margaret informed us that the next meeting will be on 15th May and the reading list includes "Corsets to Cmouflage" by Kate Adie and "The unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" by Rachel Joyce.
Scrapbooking - next meeting will be
Dora explained about the Walk. This is a system where everyone's address is shown on a map. If anyone wants their address/name removed then please let us know. This should make it easier to set up lifts etc.
A discussion was held about the Annual Meeting next month. The nominees names will be published and the voting papers given out at the beginning of next meeting. It was asked if the nominees will make themselves known at the beginning of the meeting and that will happen. Six members names have been nominated and three members of the present committee would like to continue in their roles. More details will be given on the Blog.
Thank you to Gizelle for helping with the tea making! Also, we are still looking for someone to take charge of the teamaking bag.
Next Meeting - 1st May - Annual meeting.

Community Event-Seed Swap at Valence House
 Sat 16th March 2013

First Ladies had a stall at the recent Seed Swap at Valence House. This event organised by the Rangers and involving Valence House Volunteers, the local Allotment Assoc, Growing Communities Starter Farm and was run alongside a Mary Berry Cake Sale organising fundraising for  Comic Relief .

The morning arrived and was cold, with squally winds and was very wet! The event was originally going to be outside in mini marquees but Susanna received a last minute text from ranger Janine  advising that it had thankfully been moved indoors. Susanna arrived first being there in two roles, for the WI and for her employers, Growing Communities, and started setting up and then was joined by Gizelle and Dora, who brought further WI items, including the Hand crafted Banner and craft samples etc. Because of the clash with the cake sale, we did not bring any cakes to sell.

The day went by very quickly with a small but steady stream of interested potential members who seemed to love talking about the crafts with Gizelle and Dora!

Photos curtesy of ranger service.

MARCH 6th 2013

 Our speaker for this evening was Breda.  She spoke to us about Organic gardening and Environmental issues.  She works on an organic allotment off gale Street and told us about her problems with the other allotment holders around her as well as the struggles to set up the allotment. The plot was taken over five years ago and needed a lot of work to get it up and running and is still work in progress! They run the allotment as a Co-operative and received a grant which allowed them to buy a strimmer to cut down all the weeds. Breda did a degree in Environmental Science as a mature student and has also attended Capel College to do a City and Guilds in allotment gardening and sustainable gardening. She spoke about  gardening sustainably and using less chemicals and how they can damage our bodies.  On their allotment they have a composting toilet and have solar panels to provide light etc. They are always looking for more people to join them and the fees for this evening will be used to buy Rambling roses to cover their borders. A very interesting and thought provoking talk!!

There was a Cake bake sale tonight !

Lots of lovely cakes so thank you to everyone who baked. We made lots of money for our funds so  thank you for buying the cakes as well!
There were a few notices:
  1. The resolution that the Essex Federation will be voting for at the Annual General Meeting I Cardiff is "The decline of our high streets and town centres".
  2. On 16th March there is a Seed Swop day at Valence house and we were encouraged to attend and even help out.
  3. Members were asked if they were interested in a few visits but we need to know numbers!          a) Royal Opera House Workshop tours in Purfleet £7or £6 for seniors!             b)Visit to Denman College  - more information next month                                                           c) Broadstairs Dickens Festival - 15th - 21st June         d) Next Coffee/Cake meeting is at Debenhams Romford on Friday 8th march from 10.30am      
          Please let the secretary know if you are interested.

Craft Club - some of the members went to a Craft fair near Braintree recently and there will be a trip to the Exel for another one on 4th April.
Book Club - next meeting is on 27th March . Everyone welcome. Alison has now updated the page on the Blog and suggested we have some sort of Forum for people who can't come to meetings and who would like to be involved.

I think that having our tea and coffee in the Long gallery was much better, hopefully everyone else does too.  Please let us know.

Next Month  -  3rd April  - Crimes in Barking and Dagenham!


 FEBRUARY 6th 2013

This is Krupa who led us through some Bollywood moves.
We decamped downstairs to the Small hall for the first hour of this meeting so that we could do some Bollywood dancing.  What an energetic session we had!
It was very fast and when we had practised the different moves it was then our turn to put it together.  I don't know about everyone else but I realise now that I am totally unco-ordinated!!  We certainly deserved to rest during the tea break. 
After the tea break we went upstairs and continued the meeting in the Long gallery as usual.
There were a few notices and we were given updates from the various clubs.
Book Club. Margaret told us that the next meeting will be on 27th of March, 7.30pm at Elaines house.
Craft Club.  Dora updated us about what the craft group are up to. A trip to Five Lakes in Essex to a Craft Fair has been planned. 
Coffee/baking club.  First meeting was held last week and the next meeting will be held at the Debenhams, Romford, Coffee Shop  on 8th march at 10.30am.  Everyone is  welcome.
Film Club.  It has been suggested that we start a film club. See melissa if you are interested.
There will be a NFWI competition to select "Tomorrows Heirlooms" for the Centenery celebrations in 2015.  Each WI is allowed to enter one item from each of five classes to the Essex federation and they will choose a winner from each class to go forward to the NFWI competition. This is not just for the members of the Craft club but for everyone. If you would like to know more please talk to me (Eirlys) and I can give you the details of each class.
Next Meeting will be on 6th March when we have a talk about Organic Gardening and Environmental Issues.
There will also be a Bake Sale.


9th January 2013

First Meeting of the year.


New start to a New Year!  As usual the paying of fees took over the first part of the evening and carried out with great efficiency by Jen,Viv and Alison. Make sure you received your booklet with the membership card at the front! At future meetings can everyone make sure they register with Jen.  Apart from needing to know who is present (Health and Safety) we also like to keep up to date with any changes of information you may have.

We spent the rest of the evening catching up, socalising, badgemaking and voting for the resolutions to be put forward at the NFWI  AGM  in June. The result of the voting was
"Decline of our high streets and town centres" - 12 votes
"Resolving to keep young people suicide safe online" - 20 votes
These results will now be sent to Essex Federation.
Our tea rota is now complete. Unfortunately we weren't able to use the downstairs area this meeting and had to resort to bringing hot water up in flasks
and make the tea and coffee  upstairs - not a great idea due to having to fill up the flasks several times (also the lift was out of order!).   Thanks to Melissa for running up and down stairs!
1.The banner making group  are now going to meet at Mary's house and set up a First ladies Scrapbook which will be an ongoing project. Another way of keeping a record of our group.
2.The next  book club meeting will be at Margaret's house on Jan 30th at 7.30pm.
3.A new coffee/baking group is being set up by Eirlys First meeting is likely to be on Feb 1st at 10.30am.
4.If anyone needs a lift to and from Eastbury  please let us know.
If you need to know any more about the above please send us an e-mail to
Next meeting is on Wed. Feb.6th. We will be learning to move Bollywood style so get the saris out and join the fun.

 5th December 2012

Christmas Meeting

 The meeting was opened with notices being given out by Susanna.
  1. Reminder that subs (£33) are due next month
  2. Volunteers for the tea rota were asked to put their names down on the list
  3. Members were asked to fill in the survey about Denman College in the last issue of the WI Life
  4. There is a Hygiene Certificate course being held next year on 23rd April. If anyone is interested then applications have to be in by 12th march. Cost will be £35. 
  5. If anyone wants to receive copies of the Essex WI News then see Eirlys. Costs £3.60 for ten issues.
The rest of the evening was spent enjoying mulled wine/apple juice, mince pies, crafts, guessing the money in the jar, secret santa gifts, sales of crafts, swishing and of course lots of chatting! Thank you to everyone who made it happen.
This is our wonderful banner that has finally been almost completed. Thank you to the banner group for working on it and especially to Dora for organising it! Also I'm sure we would like to thank Dora's husband for making the stand. There is still room for a few more squares if anyone is inspired to make one.
Please note the next meeting will be on 9th January and not the 2nd.  We would like you all to think about the resolutions that are being put forward to the  2013 AGM and perhaps we can discuss them during next meeting. (see  the last WI Life page 28)

7th November 2012

Cake Competition

Another busy meeting giving us a chance to enter the Victoria sponge competition. Unfortunately very few people did enter the competition which was a disappointment!  Alison won the trophy with Mary and Louise coming second and third. Thank you to Helen who did the judging. Next year hopefully we will have a better entry rate and if anyone has any ideas about how we can improve the competition then please talk to the committee.

After a demonstration of making a snowman and a robin everyone had a go at making them. There was much hilarity and some really lovely creations made by our crafty members. Hopefully some have been inspired to make some more at home.

Reminders were given about the next meeting where there will be some crafts -making and sales, secret santa, swishing and some mulled wine and mince pies.

15th September Meeting 
Open craft meeting.

Melissa introduced the meeting due to Susanna being unable to be with us.  We started  with a few notices:- if anyone needs recompense for making things for the Town Show stall please see Viv,  The London WIs Picnic at Hyde park is on 15th Sept., If anyone can take over the tea making Bag we would be very grateful, 2013 WI diaries are for sale at £3.55, reminder given about the cake competition coming up in November, there is an increase in subs from January to £33.
The rest of the evening was taken up with a variety of crafts. Lots of knitting, some crocheting with some tutoring, jewellry hearts courtesy of Giselle and finishing off squares for our banner.  Of course there was also a lot of chat going on catching up with each other after the break in August.
Next book club meeting is at Elaines on 17th Sept and next craft meetings are next wednesday 12th Sept. There has been some discussion about setting up a Cake and Bake club so if you are interested let us know. 
Thank you to Melissa, Jen and Viv for making the tea and Alison for doing the raffle!
Next meeting is on 3rd Oct when we have Barking MAD(amateur dramatics society from downstairs!!)coming to entertain us.

July Meeting: A talk on Bees from Arthur Huggins from the Essex Beekeepers

 Arthur gave us an interesting talk about keeping bees and explained why our bees are in decline. The practicalities of keeping a hive seemed a bit complicated but he has had a hive over at Eastbrookend for many years.  He brought along some of his honey which was sold out in minutes.
  After tea we caught up with what is going on at the craft club thanks to Dora. We are in the process of making a Banner for the group and Dora explained how everyone can have an input by taking a square of material and using any medium  portraying the interests of the group. These need to be completed by September which will be an open craft evening.
 The book club will be meeting next week at Elaine's house and Margaret gave us an update of what is happening.
 Susanna is now involved and working at the new Community farm opening up at Central Park. Eirlys told the group about the Lets Cook Local Course which she has run with the help of Kathy. Hopefully the farm will be selling produce by the next Lets Cook Local course which will be later on in the year.
 We are running a stall at the Dagenham Town Show on 21st and 22nd of July. Volunteers for running the stall and contributing goods to sell were asked for.
 We have decided to attend the Picnic In the Park at Hyde Park in August. This will be a meeting for all London WIs and will be instead of going to the fun day at Hatfield Peverel.
 Thank you to Jo and Joan for doing the tea and coffee.

June Meeting - Herbal Remedies and much Jubilations

Herbalist Debra Syrrett gave us a fascinating talk on herbal rememdies, found in the plants and weeds that are all around us. I don't think I have heard so much enthusiasm, the group were very absorbed and enthusiastic. The time flew by and we were left wanting more.We are thinking  of visiting Debra at her work place, The Hainault Peace Garden , for a demonstration, herb walk and this space for information

Our lovely members and guests, listening hard!

Eastbrookend Country Park Summer Fair

2nd MAY 2012

Hanging Baskets

Andrea Hatfield came and showed us how to plant a hanging basket and made it all look very simple! Unfortunately it is a bit early for actual blooms so we had to make do with imagining how beautiful the  baskets will be in a month or so.
We raffled the basket she planted which was won by Alice. Andrea also gave us lots of tips and advice about feeding and watering our gardens and hopefully we will remember them during this supposedly coming dry Summer!
We then had a jewellery swishing which Alison organised and Giselle also spent a bit of time mending jewellery. All the jewellery left will be sold at the Eastbrookend Summer Fair.
Next month we are having a "craft raffle" and ask members to bring along and donate some craft items. We would also like to ask members if they could donate small crafty bits for sale at the Eastbrookend Summer Fair and of course please come along even if you haven't volunteered to help.
At the end of the evening we presented Melissa our Vice President with a card for her forthcoming wedding on 2nd of June and wish her and James, her husband to be, all our best and a wonderful day.



We had a successful day encouraging women to join us at Eastbury House.  Hopefully we will get a few new members! We had a great display of our members craft work and Kathy  made a lovely Dragon cake which we raffled off and made £48 which paid for the pitch and a little profit for our funds.  It was a cold and windy day and there was one downpour which had us running for the unbrellas and moving things further under the gazebo!! Thank you to everyone who took part.   Hopefully the weather will be better at our next outing which is at the Summer Fair being held at Eastbrookend Country park on tuesday 5th June.

4th April 2012
Local history

Well, we finally had the second part of our History of Barking and Dagenham with Mark recovered from the flu! We discovered a lot of fascinating facts about the History of our Borough some of it very much like The Horrible Histories on television!
  • they found Roman Remains of a stone coffin just up the road near Eastbury school
  • Barking Abbey was burnt down by the Vikings but the Nuns had removed all valuables before the Vikings got there which is probably why they burnt it down!
  • The Nuns at the abbey were very wealthy since only the rich could afford to put their daughters in a nunnery.  Evidence shows that they wore expensive jewellry and had gold woven into their Habits.
  • We learnt about the toilet habits of the inhabitants of Eastbury during Medieaval times!!
  • The name of Valence House has its origins in France and has belonged to several families.  It was used as the Civic centre until the modern one was built.
  • Valence House is now a Museum and serves both the History of Barking and Dagenham.

These  are just a few facts and I'm sure you will all remember lots more!!

After the tea break we were given an update about our finances by Viv and although our funds are quite healthy we need to make sure that we raise funds so that we can do more activities.
Craft Club - Dora gave us an update and is now looking to get a group working on a Banner.  The Craft Club blog is now up and running.
Book Club - Margaret gave us an update. Next meeting is on April 25th.  Please send and e-mail to to find out time and place.  Everyone is welcome.
We then had the raffle and everyone exchanged their Easter gifts.
The winner of the decorated eggs was announced after being Judged by Mark Watson as Lesley Earing.
We are hoping to have a table showing what we get up to at the WI at the St Georges Open Day at Valence House on 21st April.  Please come along and support us and tell others about it.
Next meeting is on 2nd May and we have a demonstration of how to do hanging baskets.

Our fabulously Eggcellent Egg competition entries.

7th March 2012
Local History

Unfortunately Mark Watson was unable to make it to our meeting due to illness so the talk has been postponed to next meeting.  Susanna was unable to be with us so Melissa led the meeting.
The first part of the evening we issued various notices and discussed ways of making funds. Venues for a Quiz night were discussed.  Goals (Goresbrook) has a free venue but It needs a £100 deposit and a minimum of £800 spent at the bar! St Patricks Church, not far from Eastbury, charges £20 per hour and own food and drink can be taken! The next fundraising meeting is next tuesday 13th March at the Royal Oak, Faircross.
We are still planning to have a stall at the Town Show and also at the Valence House Open Day.
The Diamond Jubilee week Meeting was discussed and a quiz sheet was suggested about the Queen's reign.  Sue Omalley has kindly said she will produce it.
Next meeting will have an Easter theme.  Bring a wrapped Easter type gift and pay £1 per person (to go towards our funds) and recieve  a gift in return!  There will also be an Easter Egg painting competition.
Next Book club meeting will be on 28th April, please ask at the next meeting for details.
Everyone enjoyed a very sociable evening and we were able to close our meeting on time for a change!
Next meeting is 4th April when hopefully we will have Mark Watson giving us his talk about the History of Barking and Dagenham.

2 November 2011. Annual Meeting - Cake Competition 7 December 2011 Christmas Meeting4th January 2012
New year Meeting
1st February 2012
Line Dancing  

1st February 2012

Susanna opened the evening by welcoming everyone. After issuing a few notices the evening was handed over to Pat and Terry who led us through some Line Dancing. This was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone who took part. A sense of rhythm and some nifty footwork was necessary but it looked very good after some practice!  
After the break we had a discussion about the meeting in June to see if we needed to change it. It falls the day after the Diamond Jubilee bank holiday and it is half term. After a show of hands it was decided to keep it as it is on 6th June.
A reminder was given to everyone to check the Blog every month and to visit each section to ensure that you are up to date with everything.  The Craft group don't have a page yet but it will be added very soon. The book club will be meeting on the 8th February and the book is The Kashmir Shawl.
Next month we have Mark Watson giving us the second part of the history of Barking and Dagenham. See you there on 7th march!


4th January 2012

FIRST MEETING - 4th January
A good start to the new year! We managed to get a lot of admin done including making sure that payment of fees were up to date, thanks to Viv and Jen who organised an orderly queue! In future meetings can everyone make sure that they register with Jen to keep our information up to date and of course let us know of any changes you may have.

I hope everyone got the booklet with the membership card.

We then had an evening of catching up and socialising. Unfortunately, Susanna was not able to be with us so Melissa welcomed us and presided over the meeting. We were reminded that next meeting in February we need to wear our cowboy boots and hats for an evening of line dancing. Then in March we have Mark Watson back to continue with the history of Barking and Dagenham.

The results of the resolutions voting was given out and those who hadn’t voted were given the opportunity to do so. The winning resolution is “Reducing fuel poverty”

Essex WI News - this is published monthly and we get one copy free, but if anyone else wants to receive a copy it costs £3-60 per year and see the secretary. The magazine gives news of other WI’s in Essex and tells us about courses and trips being organised county wide. The magazine will be available to look at each meeting.

As can be seen from the Blog we now have a Tea rota. Thank you very much to everyone who has volunteered.

A list of those people who need lifts to and from the meetings is also being organised and hopefully everyone will eventually have a lift especially during these dark winter months.

We now have a sewing/craft group being set up courtesy of Dora. First meeting is on 11th Jan. Please see Dora for information since she can only take so many and has two sessions running in the afternoon and evening.

Viv talked to us about gift aid which means signing a form if you are a tax payer which entitles us to a tax refund and of course every little helps towards our funds. Talking of which we now have a group who are going to look at fund raising and have now organised a first meeting.

The raffle is now going to be done by Alison each month so thank you Alison! Don’t forget to bring any donations for the raffle, we are always grateful for them.

We all had the chance to make a name badge courtesy of Melissa and her badge making machine. Our artistic talents were challenged but we can now address each other by our proper names!

Next meeting is on 1st February.

7 December 2011

A crafty festive evening for the last meeting of the year. We had a variety of crafts going on. A couple of tables were tackling the making of Christmas baubles with some success. Another table were making brooches based on Kilt pins and buttons. There were also a few knitting and crocheting with a beautiful piece of crochet on display. 

 Unfortunately we did have a power cut in the Long Gallery but the ante room still had lights, so we carried the tables and chairs through and carried on regardless. When the lights came back on we decided to stay where we were!

Others were chatting and discussing the resolutions which we had to vote on.  
The results were as follows
Field studies and outdoor education - 3
Airborne litter - 3
Reducing fuel poverty - 9
Employment of more midwives - 7
Achieving legal status for British Sign Language - 3
Helmets for cyclists - 5
These results will be sent off after the next meeting so there is still time for you to vote!

We were treated to mulled wine and mince pies for our break. Thank you to those who brought in mince pies.
Our swishing venture was held but there wasn't enough time to do it justice so next time we will need to allow more time.
Instead of the raffle most of us brought in a wrapped gift and paid £1 towards our funds and went home with a gift!
Next meeting will be on 4th January 2012 which will be based on helping us start
the new year in a healthy way.

Accounts for the past year were explained, alongside a forecast for next year.  Half of the funds collected from membership fees next year will go to the National WI organisation and the Essex Federation.  The group will need to focus on fundraising.
The financial statement was accepted by Tricia & Melissa.
The President, Susanna gave a brief report of the year.  Highlights included having seen her vision become a reality in starting the group, having fun and organising activities based on feedback and suggestions.
Tricia filled the group in on some of the aspects of being part of the WI.  This included the detail of proposing and voting on resolutions to identify national WI campaigns; being represented at the National Annual General Meeting.
The committee stood down, and all but one (who had decided not to stand again) were voted back in.  More committee members can be co-opted onto the committee later.
The committee are:
  • ·         President: Susanna
  • ·         Vice-president: Melissa
  • ·         Treasurer: Viv
  • ·         Secretary: Eirlys
  • ·         Meeting & greeting: Jen
  •           Bookings secretary: Maxine

Tricia highlighted a range of activities organised by the Essex Federation. 

A new pricing structure for visitors was agreed, with the first evening being free; the second costing £3, after which people are expected to join the group.
The moodle has a range of resources to help run the WI and lots of ideas for WI members, e.g. recipes, craft projects etc.
The Victoria sponge competition was a big success – there were many cakes.  Diane Donovan won the first prize and takes the trophy for the year; Lisa Groves’ cake came second, and there was a joint third prize – Brenda Smith and one other contestant. 

Next meeting:
  1. Instead of a raffle it was proposed people bring in something wrapped that cost £1 and then pay £1 which will go into our funds. Everyone then gets a gift to take home.
  2. Swishing will also take place. Please bring along one or two garments in good condition to swop for 50p.
  3. Christmas crafts will also take place.

Laughter is therapeutic, and that was one of the purpose of the laughter workshop session led by Sarah Henderson.  Sarah took us through a range of different types of laughter, and told us whether we were faking it, or laughing genuinely we’d feel happier and less stressed by the end of it.  The exercises were enough to send some of us into un-controllable fits of laughter!  

Afterwards Sarah took us through some Choral exercises, singing in rounds and skats, and even those of us who thought we couldn’t sing agreed it sounded good!

The WI has now been running for a year!  The President, Susanna cut a cake, after a round of “Happy Birthday” and many enjoyed a slice of nice cake with our tea.

The next meeting is the Annual General Meeting.  Commitee members will stand down, and a commitee for next year will be elected.  This can be some of the current commitee members again or other WI members.  The current WI Secretary announced her intention not to stand again next year.  There will also be a Victoria Sponge competition!

Sally Fitzgerald from Right to Survive took us through a range of self defence manoeuvres, and gave us advice on keeping safe.  This was useful, and fun.  The boxing gloves proved a hit!

Check out more pictures in the gallery!

Summer Picnic: Come Rain or Shine!

A core of hardy good hearted souls went forth on the 7th August for the inaugural First Ladies Annual Summer Picnic!

Despite darkened clouds and strong winds the intrepid few made merry and joyously exclaimed in hope at the briefest glimpses of the mysterious golden ball in the sky!

They partook in sandwiches, cakes, crisps and quiches under fluttering bunting and a steadfastly waving vintage Union Flag.

Diane made a very good attempt at making a Sou'wester from a Sainsbury plastic bag, whilst Eirlys was almost unrecognisable in all her wet weather gear!

Nicky (who came on crutches!) managed to stay firm under her umbrella with husband Glenn and son Harry, like a pixies under a toad stall.

Maxine resembled a cartoon nun wrapped in a Bart Simpson blanket! The rest of us sat stoically munching on our food before it blew away or got damp.

 The weather finally overwhelmed our heroes who convened to the pavilion for hot chocolates! 

6 July 2011
Viv demonstrates parchment craft.
A slight change of programme at short notice enabled us to enjoy seeing and hearing about Susanna's (WI President) felt craft as well as learning more about Viv's (WI Treasurer) amazing parchment craft.  Members also had a chance to enjoy sewing bunting.  

Members were invited to share their opinion on potential picnic venues for the WI to meet up in August when there is no normal Wednesday meeting.  This is in line with all other WIs in not having a meeting in August when many people are on holiday.

1 June 2011

First Ladies got a chance to be creative and chat, stitching bunting at our last meeting.  Using lots of different coloured and patterned scraps of material, and any adornments such as ribbons, felt, and buttons to hand, we made a good start on getting a string of bunting together, including the start of letters to spell out our name. 

The bunting will get its first airing at the town show, and will then be shown off at any and every event possible.  And rightly so, as if we say so ourselves, its looking rather good!

Members got a chance to have their say on the quiz planned for autumn, and apologies were given to anyone who got strange e-mails requesting money to be sent to Spain following the hacking of our WI e-mail address.  

4 May 2011

At our May meeting Mark Watson from Valence House Museum gave a talk on local Barking and Dagenham history.  Little did we know how much there is, or how interesting it is!  The first thing he did was check the balance of Barking versus Dagenham residents in the room to make sure neither area got left out!  Mark kept us enthralled for an hour telling us about the local history which includes the Abbey in Barking (which dates back to 666 AD) and the old style loos in a tunnel now under B&Q car park!  More modern history included the building of the Becontree estate, for which some local people living in the area had to be moved, and which were filled up with working class people from London.  An hour was all to short, and he promised if invited to return and fill us in with part 2!

Announcements included an update on the book club’s most recent meeting, and further work by the task groups on the projects (which include the town show, fundraising quiz, local events).


Simon Ridley talked us through some basic steps to create a short routine.  He and his dance partner broke the routine down into simple steps which were then pieced together and put to music.  Remembering the moves, and getting them right caused much hilarity and fun! Check out more pictures from the evening in our gallery!
Simon and his partner demonstrate Jive
Simon and his dance partner gave us an impressive demonstration showing us what its supposed to look like, plus more advanced moves which looked very swish and inspiring several of us to want to learn how to dance better!  If you're interested in going along to one of Chris' classes further details are available on his Jive Club website

People who’d volunteered to help organise some of the WI’s forthcoming activities, such as the Town Show took the opportunity to start planning during the tea break.
Announcements included:
Moodle –the on-line WI resource which includes recipes, craft project ideas and news.  Members should ask Melissa if they’d like to get onto it.
Financial report from Treasurer: Viv gave a brief update on the finances of the WI – including the number of members, funds within the bank, and expected planned expenditure.
The book group had a successful first meeting.  It is going to be meeting on the third Wednesday of every month.  The next book due to be discussed will be Alan Bennett’s “A life Like Other People.  It will be meeting on the 13th, at Margaret’s House.  Contact the WI via the e-mail address for more info/Margaret’s contact details. 

2 March 2011

A possum and a movie camera 1943Mr Chris Farndell gave a talk on how to take better photographs.  Chris started his career as a police photographer taking pictures at the scene of incidents and crimes.  Since then he has become interested in the more creative aspects of photography, and teaches photography at Colchester Sixth Form College.
He wowed us with a slide show of amazing photographs, some of his own and also famous ones, pointing out aspects which make the pictures work and a few anecdotes about some of the pictures. 
Tips included the rule of thirds – imaging the screen divided into 3 vertically and horizontally to position items of interest within the frame…, use of colour… and the use of different lens filters such as the polarising lens (which prevents reflections and prevents reflections on dust particles in the sky making blue skies much bluer!)  For anyone who missed it, or would like a reminder here’s a link to some  useful photography tips!

Announcements included the theatre trip to the Bronte sisters – everyone to book their own tickets if interested; also the same for a tour of the Olympic park; and a request for volunteers to sign up to help organise a few First Ladies WI events including a presence at the Dagenham Town Show; a pub fundraising quiz; and a summer picnic.  If anyone who wasn’t at the meeting would like to help out, or didn’t get to sign up, please do drop us a line, or speak to any of the committee members at the next meeting. 

2 February 2011

When you meet new people, would you prefer to be remembered for who you are, or for the clothes you were wearing?  First impressions count!  

Silvana also quoted an article in The Times newspaper on women who wear make-up getting noticed in the board room  - apparently even men should consider make-up too!
Colour Me Beautiful Consultant, Silvana Borg gave us an introduction to the effect of colour on our appearance.  Depending on our own skin, eyes and hair colour, different colours can either compliment, contrast or even cast shadows.  She demonstrated this by selecting volunteers to model swatches of a colour wheel showing the bad, and the good – see more pictures in our gallery!

Silvana and two volunteers!
A well dressed person is wearing something:
  • complimentary to their shape and colourings;
  • their personality,
  • its appropriate to the occasion,
  • and is current – i.e if you haven’t worn something for over a year – why are you still keeping it in your wardrobe?!

Time felt short, as Silvana had so much more she could have told us.  A make-up demonstration ran parallel with our tea break.
  • A play at the Broadway in Barking: Austin’s Women on 3 March. Tickets £8
  • The Women’s library visit 12 February, meet at Chadwell Heath Station at 10.30am
  • Denman College possible visit to taster of different crafts
  • The committee are suggesting the idea of a quiz night to raise funds
  • Dagenham Town Show is on 16/17th July – we could do a stand / participate in the parade
  • Domesday Reloaded is trying to track down the identities of people in photographs  - there is an article about this in the WI magazine – photos will be released onto the Domesday Reloaded website in March
     Do you like reading?
Girl inspector confers with a worker as she makes a a careful check of center wings for C-47 transport planes, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif. (LOC)

First Ladies WI Member, Margaret is suggesting starting a Book Club.  She said that it will not be wildly intellectual, but for people interested in reading books and talking about them. She's been a member of book clubs before, and its a chance to read and enjoy books you would otherwise not have thought of reading. If you’re interested in joining a book club, contact us via e-mail, tell a committee member, or speak to Margaret at the next meeting. 

5 January 2011

Girl sitting in a crate of Queensland pineapples, 1924
Which is better for you, margarine or butter?
Is ketchup good for you?
Is it bad for you to eat more than 5 fruit and vegetables a day?

Eirlys, First Ladies WI member and H.E teacher, got us thinking and literally voting with our feet about these and other healthy eating “true or false” facts!
“There are no bad foods, just bad diets”
This was a a good introductory statement to telling us more about the importance of having a balanced diet. Eirlys introduced us to the Eatwell plate, which gives a guide on the proportions of different types of food we should be eating. There are lots more useful facts and tips on the Food Standards Agency (FSA) website and the Change 4 Life website.

Soup is an relatively easy, and healthy meal particularly good for this time of year. Eirlys gave us a simple recipe to make soup with seasonal vegetables, water, stock, bouillon and bouquet garnet. She’d brought some she’d made earlier in several flasks, so we were lucky to be able to all have a taste too!

Thanks to Eirlys for sharing her knowledge and giving us an interesting talk, especially timely straight after Christmas and with many of us having New years’ resolutions to eat more healthily!

After cups of tea, and drawing the raffle there were a few announcements including: Please bring any raffle prizes in – perhaps unwanted Christmas presents..; Members are free to set up sub-groups for example perhaps a reading group; There are a few local events happening soon; trip to WI craft event at the Women's Library near Aldgate East Any members who haven’t received their membership packs by post should let Melissa know.

8 December 2010

The room looked very festive and welcoming with Christmas decorations and fairy lights!  Members craft items were attractively arranged on tables ready for sale later, and clothes brought by members were hanging up ready to be swished!

Members getting creative with christmas cards!
Susanna demonstrated how to make a Christmas wreath using ever green vegetation including fir tree off-cuts; holly; ivy and olive branches.  She then used dried oranges; cinamon sticks and other Christmassy accessories to finish it off.  It looked much more natural and appealing than the shop bought ones!

Then three volunteers had a go at making one, proving that you really can make one in quite a short amount of time.  Others had a go at making Christmas cards.

Later members swished and were delighted to get the jacket or dress they'd had their eyes on all evening!  There was then an opportunity to buy a hand crafted Christmas gift for someone such a beautiful decorated box; gorgeous felt items and amazing cards, before the raffle was called!

Check out more the pictures of the evening in our gallery!

3 November 2010

This was our first time meeting at Eastbury Manor House.  We are considering our options within the borough in finding a permanent home - general feedback about using the Manor House was good, and some other suggestions of potential venues were also discussed.

Members enjoy getting to know each other!
Our main activity for the evening was 'mix and mingle'.  Members had about five minutes (until the bell was rung!) to chat with each other.  Some people brought along some wonderful handicrafts to share their interests, this ranged from amazing cross-stitch to stunning jewellery.
At the next meeting we will learn about Christmas crafts, and there will also be a chance to liberate less worn clothes lurking at the back of the wardrobe, and swap them through clothes swishing! 

Two ladies from the Essex Federation, Liz and Tricia led the meeting. They introduced the Women's Institute to us, telling us about what the organisation does, how we would need to set up the group, and the benefits of joining.
They convinced us, and we formed our group!  To do this we formed our committee.  Liz and Tricia described the committee as being the 'backbone' of a WI group, ensuring that all the organisation was in place for the group to function. 
At our first meeting we shared ideas about what we would like to do at WI meetings, ideas included:
  • First Aid
  • Colour consultancy
  • Basic Car maintenance
  • Christmas crafts
  • Jewellery making
  • Basic IT
  • Clothes Swap
  • Chocolate night
  • Healthy Living
  • Yoga/Relaxation
  • Cake Decorating
  • Digital Photography
  • Remodelling Old Clothes

Members were invited to join a trip to see the film 'Made in Dagenham', and also to the Country Living Fair on 13 November 2010.

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