On the Malvern Hills

Guarlford Women's Institute


(Last updated 24th January 2017)

WI cakePlease look at our ‘Photos’ page for more about our year. The year 2016 marked a milestone for us, as we celebrated our 75th Birthday. On May 13th 1941, Britain was at war when twenty-eight women met at the “First Aid Point” at Guarlford Rectory to form the Guarlford Women’s Institute.

We used information from our archives to create two display boards this year, comparing and contrasting life then and now for our members. In World War Two members collected medicinal herbs and rosehips, ran Whist Drives, raised money for The Wool Fund, Aid To Russia, Salute the Soldier, Malvern Hospital, Aid To China, Wings For Victory; they knitted numerous garments, became blood donors and took in evacuees. On Tuesday 7th December 1943 the demonstration and talk were on “Making Camouflage nets” and the W I members quickly took up the challenge as work began on Friday 10th December – they then made nine nets within three months. And, of course, they made jam, pounds and pounds of it, but the members also had time to have fun!

Meetings in the Village Hall

In January 2016 we began our 75th Birthday year with a New Year Lunch, accompanied by husbands and friends. Then on 9th February we welcomed Sue McCormick to the Village Hall for a session "Keeping Fit And Active". As soon as Elvis Presley began singing to accompany our exercise, we knew that it was going to be a good evening! On March 8th Geraldine Williams talked to us about "Reduced Maintenance Gardening - with flair!" Geraldine is a designer as well as a physical gardener and thinks that "If you are going to change, do it with style." Then on April 12th we welcomed back from her travels one of our own members, who gave us a very entertaining account of "Our unexpected 9 year journey, Turkey to Turkey - a voyage of discovery" taken with her partner. We heard the first part of a round the world journey which began in March 2002, when the two keen sailors took their ketch from the Mediterranean across the Atlantic to the Panama Canal.

May of course brings the “Resolutions Evening”, when we debated the two Resolutions to be debated at the Annual Meeting of the NFWI at Brighton on June 11th and gave our own votes, which were passed to our delegate. In July Gwyn Klee talked to us about the artist Dame Laura Knight (1877 – 1970), who was the first female Royal Academician and who lived in the Malvern area from 1930. Dame Laura painted, among many subjects, ordinary people working and sunlit children on the beach in Yorkshire and Cornwall, ballet dancers, members of circus troupes, gypsies and ‘Women at War’ working hard in the Second World War, giving us vivid depictions of life at the time. She was even asked to paint a picture of the accused Nazis sitting in the dock at Nuremberg.

Our Birthday Party

LizThe highlight of our summer was our 75th Birthday party on June 14th, when we welcomed Marjorie Whiting, our WI County Chairman, Revd Sue our Rector and many guests from other WIs in the area to a suitably festive Village Hall. The Elderly Brothers set the cheerful atmosphere for the evening, as they entertained us well in song, encouraging plenty of audience participation. A delicious supper was served, and the birthday cake was cut by one of our members also celebrating her birthday that day. It was decided that the proceeds from the Raffle (£63) would be added to the monthly collection of “Pennies for Friendship” for the Associated Country Women of the World.

The Craft Group

The Craft Group continued to be very busy all year. We provided lots of things for the Plant, Book and Produce Stall at the Madresfield Open Gardens and Fete on June 13th, which raised £250, (in aid of Madresfield C of E Primary School and our parish churches). Some unsold Craft items were then given to the pupils of the ‘crucial crew’ at Madresfield School for their Bring and Buy Sale on 16th June, which made a total of over £240 for their link school in Masasi. We had already sent a selection of Craft items to the ACWW to be sold on a stall at their August Conference at Warwick University, and we always have a stall at the village Christmas Fayre, all proceeds going to the Village Hall funds and the parish church.

Produce and Handicraft Show

Every two years we have a Produce & Handicraft Show, and the one on September 13th was a great success, with many entries from members and non-members. The Show Secretary worked hard organizing the day and for the various classes there were external judges, pleased to see a traditional ‘country’ show. Tables were filled with handicrafts, preserves, vegetables, flowers and cookery. We try to have one class in the Handicraft Section for our ‘Charity Craft make’, and this year we have been knitting Baby Blankets for Project Linus to distribute to local Premature Baby Units. So far fourteen small blankets have been knitted in soft pretty pastel or 'rainbow' yarns, with several more to come.

Other Events

On the evening of August 18th a team of four members went to a very good Quiz at Somers Park Avenue Church hall, organized for the Malvern Hills Group of WIs by the ladies of Link Top W I. There was a warm welcome - and excellent cakes at half time! (From January 2017 County Groups are being reorganized and we shall move to the Severn Group.)

At our monthly meeting on October 11th we went for a "Stroll with Sabrina", led by Linda and Colin Griffin. Linda began by telling us one of the legends about the River Severn, when three sisters were challenged by their father to find the best way to the sea. Starting from Plynlimon in Wales, Ystwith went west directly to the sea, Wye wandered through the hills and Severn took the longest route across the land. When the three girls reached the sea, their father made them into rivers, set to travel their chosen routes for ever. Linda took us along the course of the River Severn, using many old and new photographs to show us some of the sights, ending with a video of the amazing Severn Bore surging upstream.

The Annual Council Meeting

On October 18th five members attended the Worcestershire Federation Annual Council Meeting at the Three Counties Showground, where we heard various reports, including plans for celebrating the Federation's Centenary in 2018. Then came a treat: the morning speaker, Mr Brian Cumming MBE took the stage resplendent in the very smart scarlet coat of a Chelsea Pensioner. Brian served in the Royal Signals for thirty-three years and then spent fourteen years doing welfare work in the MOD, for which he received his MBE. He really enjoys living at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, acting as a guide and also travelling the country to give talks.

During lunch we had time to visit the many stalls and look at the entries for the Craft Rally. There were some amazing displays in the Floral Art, Sugarcraft and Art classes, as well as Photography and a new class for computer designed posters. The Rally’s theme was 'Fun & Games', and we entitled our entry for the Co-operative class 'Games we used to play", recalling round games like Ring-a-ring-roses and Oranges & lemons, skipping and two ball, conkers, hopscotch and five stones. We were very pleased with our mark of 80/100, especially with the 20/20 for the Cookery item and 20/20 for our Interpretation of the theme.

At the start of the afternoon session WI birthday certificates were presented, including ours for our 75th birthday. Pershore WI has been celebrating its centenary this year, and there was a very good display depicting the history of their WI.

The second speaker was Ingrid Seward, editor in chief of ‘Majesty’ magazine, who has met the Queen on many occasions. Running through Ingrid's talk were the speeches the Queen has made during her lifetime, from that early broadcast in 1940 with her sister Margaret, her pledge to the nation on her 21st birthday and Christmas broadcasts, first on radio and then television. The final photograph was that taken by Annie Leibnitz, for the Queen's 90th birthday, showing the Queen with her five great grandchildren and her two youngest grandchildren - little Mia Tindall is holding the Queen's handbag. A delightful photograph to finish an entertaining talk.  

November saw our Annual Meeting with reports, election etc. At our Christmas Meeting on December 13th, as we sipped mulled wine or juice, we and our guests were entertained in song by the popular Elderly Brothers, who gave us plenty of opportunities to join in singing. A delicious buffet and pleasant Social Time followed, plus a Lucky Dip into the basket full of presents before we went home.

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Our 2017 Programme can be found by clicking here,