Welcome to Ottershaw WI

Important Dates/notes for your Diary for 2018

March 19th -
Surrey Federation Spring Meeting at Dorking Halls

March 24th - Ottershaw WI Spring Fair 10-12.30, Brook Hall

April 12th - Runnymede Group AGM, hosted by Ottershaw WI

Bank Holiday Monday May 7th - Ottershaw May Fair at Ottershaw Memorial Fields. We join with Nightowls to have a cake stall

May 11th 7pm - Surrey Centenary Party at Chertsey Hall, KT16 9DR. £10 per ticket. Food and entertainment

June 3rd (Sunday) - Runnymede Group summer social hosted by Egham Nightingirls

June 6th - NFWI Annual Meeting in Cardiff

October 8th -
Surrey Federation Autumn Meeting at Dorking Halls

October 16th 7.30pm - Runnymede Group Autumn Meeting hosted by Ottershaw Nightowls

December 1st - 10.00 - 12.30 - Christmas Fair at Ottershaw Village Hall


    Ottershaw W.I. 

Ottershaw WI welcomes women of all ages. We are a friendly group who meet at 1.45pm on the third Thursday of the month. Throughout the year we run Art & Craft groups, domestic and handicraft shows as well as Spring and Christmas Fairs.Guests are always welcome at our meetings.


October 18th  - Autumn Show & Scams and Frauds

In October we held the annual show 'All Things Crafty'. We were pleased to welcome back Beryl Havers, WI County Judge, who examined all the exhibits and took time to offer praise, written comments and encouragement.

During the judging we met Steve Roberts, former Detective Inspector, who's talk 'Scams & Frauds' reminded us all to be vigilant both when using technology and in seemingly innocent dealings with fraudsters contacting individuals by telephone, email and on the doorstep.

The WI always welcomes visitors to meetings and in the last few months we have been delighted by the interest our group has generated. As a result, a special Tea Party was held to enable members to meet up with some of the newest members and enjoy a relaxed and sociable afternoon whilst raising some extra funds for our nominated charity The Orchard Dementia Centre in Chertsey

September 20th - Twelve months of colour

We welcomed John Negus to our September meeting for a month by month guide of how to ensure there is colour in the garden all year round. His expertise and horticultural experience was evident in the advice and light-hearted interaction with members who enjoyed the colourful slides and took away many ideas to help create all year interest in the garden.


July 19th - 50 Reasons not to be afraid of flying

Lorimer Burn joined us. His told us about his career as a former helicopter pilot with the Royal Navy, then flying helicopters out to oil rigs before joining British Midland, flying 737's and A320's all over Europe.With the aid of short videos he examined the different fears expressed by nervous passengers explaining that most were unfounded, illogical and unjustified. He gave advice regarding preparing for the journey: arrive early, be familiar with the check in process and wear comfortable clothes. He finished by saying that it was statistically far more dangerous traveling to the airport. 

We do not have a meeting in August however we will be visiting 'Teapot Island' where on the banks of the River Medway resides a family run business with the biggest collection of teapots in England. Also planned are visits to Mercedes World in Weybridge and The Mill at Elstead for lunch.

 June 21st - Bake Off & Floral Show

Every year we hold a traditional WI Show and members enter classes for baking, preserves and compete for a floral cup. Our WI trained judge, Janet Manning congratulated the committee on the organisation of the event and all the entrants for selection and variety of the entries particularly as many were from new WI members. Both the Produce Cup and the Floral Cup were won by Wendy Roberts and the Judge's choice awarded to Esther Wood. While the judging was going on our speaker was Carolann Martys, a professional actress who specialised in speech and drama. She told us about her experiences when she worked at Parkhurst Prison, setting up groups with play readings, poetry and also introducing performances by guest artists.


17th May 2018 - Resolution vote and Lunch

Our meeting started with a delicious Ploughmans lunch prepared and set up by the committee. Towards the end of the lunch we were given a talk by Lorna Mahoney and her friend regarding the training and education of Guide dogs for the blind. Lorna has promised to return next year when she will have her own dog with her, to talk to us again and also to tell us more about the history.

We were also joined by people from the Orchard Dementia Centre, our chosen charity, they gave us an update on how everything was going at the centre and we were very pleased to give them a cheque for monies raised over the past year.

The resolution - Mental Health Matters, was voted for unanimously and will go forward to the AGM in Cardiff on 6th June. Three members will be going to Cardiff as delegates for 4 other WI's each and will then give in a report on their return.

We discussed future outings to Teapot Island, Weald & Downland Museum and Sunbury Walled Garden. Our 85th Birthday Party will be on June 8th and we are all looking forward to that. We also welcomed 2 more new members to our group.


19th April 2018 - Flower Arranging

Jeanette Bell, florist extraordinaire and Chelsea medalist created six inspirational floral arrangements whilst talking about her interesting career. Watching an expert put together a dramatic and elegant arrangement incorporating Cherry blossom and contorted Hazel whilst listening to her exploits and experiences was totally absorbing. Jeanette also gave us some useful tips for our own floral section at our June show. She also kindly donated the arrangements to our raffle.

Once again we had first time visitors to our meeting and they joined in with us to thank Jeanette for a thoroughly enjoyable demonstration.


15th March 2018 - The Historic Knitter

Joyce Meader is an expert knitter with a huge collection of printed knitting patterns. We were astonished at the extreme simplicity of the instructions produced in 1817 when it was assumed the knitter would know how to turn a heel in accordance with their own family tradition.Joyce brought lots of examples including delicate french knickers and the dreaded knitted swimsuit. Joyce's patterns have been put to good use to recreate items for actors and museums and her entertaining talk certainly revived some memories and an appreciation of wool.


15th February 2018 - Teacher in an Arab School

Julie Bevan lived in Saudi Arabia and taught at a large and prestigious school. Covering the syllabus for Mathematics across the equivalent of both primary and secondary education up to 'A' level together with IT and music was an extraordinary challenge.Julie gave us a unique insight into the way of life for both herself and her pupils and the resulting contradictions and restrictions for a modern, western lady living independently in Arabia. Julie was a fascinating speaker and, wearing traditional dress, she brought the Middle East to Ottershaw.

It was lovely to see ten ladies who came as guests to our meeting with everyone introducing themselves to the new comers. There was plenty to talk about over tea and cake as we have outings to a garden centre, the theatre to see Thoroughly Modern Millie, the Walled Garden at Sunbury, a trip down the river and a visit to Teapot Island. We are looking forward to a very enjoyable year.

18th January 2018 - Resolutions Meeting and Afternoon Tea

We began the New Year with the sad news that our oldest member, Joan McPherson had passed away. Joan was an active member for many years and records show her entering and winning competitions 40 years ago. She was President at least twice and continued serving on the committee sharing her experience, wisdom and memories. She will be sorely missed.

At our meeting we sat in groups and discussed the five short listed Resolutions proposed for a countrywide campaign. We then voted on each Resolution. These totals will be submitted by our Secretary to National Federation. Following such serious discussions we cheered ourselves up by enjoying a cup of tea and some delicious cake.


14th December - Christmas Social - Faith Powell, sales executive to fairy fruitcake

The afternoon started by members being welcomed by the committee dressed as fairies, in keeping with our entertainer. Mulled wine was poured and everyone took their seats. Faith told us how she had been at a children's party watching a magic act and thought 'I could do better than that'. So along with a friend she started doing children's parties. Faith picked one of our members to be her helper and she was such a sport, allowing Faith to dress her up as a fairy, complete with tutu, wig and wand. After the thoroughly enjoyable entertainment we had afternoon tea, pulled crackers and enjoyed a very happy afternoon. A great finish to a successful year.

16th November - Annual Meeting

We started the afternoon with a Fish & Chips lunch. We had a full house and a lovely surprise when Joan, who was recently out of hospital, arrived in her wheelchair, pushed to the hall by Laura from her home. Everyone loves Fish & Chips!! At this meeting we reviewed the past year and appointed a committee to take us into 2018. Our treasurer Pam Jeffrey stood down from her post and from the committee, our thanks to Pam for all her hard work over the past years, not only as treasurer and vice President but the many other jobs she did. Pauline Vinall has taken over the role of Treasurer, we are extremely grateful to her as she is a new WI member. Following a secret ballot Vivienne James was voted in for another year as President. Already there are lots of activities planned and a wide variety of speakers to inspire and educate us.  

19th October - All things Crafty

Our annual handicrafts show where members have the opportunity to enter their crafts was judged by WI county judge, Mrs Beryl Havers. She examined all the exhibits and offered written comments and encouragement. During the judging we were entertained by Susan Howe, a Blue Badge guide, her talk: 'History minus the boring bits' took us on a tour of lesser known amusing, sometimes gruesome facts from the 16th century to World War 2. WI business and tea was followed by the competition results. Monica Snape was awarded the cup for the most points gained over all categories and also the knitting cup. Helen Schaffner received the Judges Choice Cup.

September 21st - Mountain Adventures

Our inspirational speaker started her talk with a last from a conch shell, just to ensure we were all awake. Tess Burrows is an adventurer, peace activist, author and speaker and joined us on her way to Heathrow Airport to start her latest adventure.Tess has undertaken many events for charity, sometimes accompanied by a toy penguin. Her fund raising for environmental, animal and educational projects have involved running, walking, climbing and parachuting. Such an inspirational lady and many members bought her books.


This month we met Jane Muddle from Madajazz who described her career path from Corporate Pension Fund Manager to "Bag Lady" in her interesting and informative talk about the jazzy bags from Madagascar.  Jane explained how the bags and hats are made from natural and sustainable materials and handwoven by the people of Madagascar.  Living in idyllic but impoverished surroundings, the population faces many challenges.  The wide range of vibrantly coloured, stylish bags and fabulous sun hats are imported under the Fair-trade Scheme ensuring that the producers are paid a fair price.  We learned so much about this large and relatively sparsely populated island in the Indian Ocean - and yes, we did go home with some lovely examples!

Members modelled the hats and bags and everyone had a lovely lovely afternoon plus tea and cakes!

Bletchley Park

Members enjoyed a really interesting visit to Bletchley Park at the end of June. 

In 1938 the British Government purchased the then much larger Bletchley Park Estate to accommodate secret codebreaking and intelligence services. Although a rural location it was easily accessible from London, Oxford and Cambridge and soon became the Centre for pioneering work in codebreaking, translation. evaluation, and top secret communications, helping to shorten World War 11 by two years and save countless lives. 

At its peak, around ten thousand people, the majority being women, were in involved in the work including a collection of brilliant minds. 

The degree of secrecy under which the codebreakers worked is difficult to appreciate in todays age of internet, Twitter, smart phones etc. For many years their work remained secret even to their families. Hastily built timber huts were replaced by brick, steel and concrete blocks many of which remain and have now been developed to show every stage of progress of cryptographic, computing and intelligence processed. Imaginative and informative displays, some of which are interactive, show the visitor many aspects of the working environment. Enigma and Lorenz machines are on display together with a replica 'Bombe' machine designed to speed up the codebreaking process through to the earliest computer and up to date advice on internet safety.

A thoroughly worthwhile and interesting place to visit.

Great Ottershaw Bake off

Our domestic show this year took on the style of the Great British Bake Off it was judged by Margaret Lopez who judges at national shows she was once again impressed by the high standard off baking. Vivienne James won with Produce Cup with the highest overall marks, Jean Mitchell won the Judges Choice cup for her Cherry and Almond cake and Linda Pick won the Floral Cup. 

Entries were high and wide ranging all of a good standard, including the popular entry of a traditional Victoria Sponge.  it was good to see new members entering and winning first prizes. This year members volunteered to donate their prize money to our Charity for this year The Orchard in Chertsey. Members did however receive Certificates and Rosettes for their hard endeavours.. We sadly lost one of our very long standing members this year and decided to introduce a new Trophy for the Judges Choice entry and named it the Beryl Mainwaring Cup in her memory.

Party Time

This year our annual Birthday Celebration was full of surprises Country Style! It started with a delicious meal prepared for us by Word of Mouth catering. Our Committee Members arose to the event by serving us wearing check shirts, jeans, and cowboy hats. Each table was named with a famous Country music singer.

We were then entertained by Anne Chance singing Country Music and playing her guitar.

As if that wasn't enough surprise surprise our President Vivienne James and other members demonstrated Line Dancing followed by her teaching us all how to do it! It was a very successful evening everybody had fun.

Ottershaw May Fair, we presented at this event held annually on bank holiday Monday on the Ottershaw Memorial Fields for the third year running, supporting the local community and letting people know what we do. Our members baked cakes and savouries to sell along with other produce. It is always a fun day out for the whole community. Our promotional table provides ladies with an insight to all our activities and how they can join.

Springtime for Ottershaw WI is always a busy time, at our annual Fair we introduced a new stall selling sewing aids which included cottons, buttons, fabric, patterns etc. our ladies were there to advise if required. We had the usual attractions of home made cakes and preserves, the coffee shop, gardening, jewellery, gifts, raffle and tombola. Despite the difficulties created by problems with car parking on the day it was another huge success.

This month the ladies of Ottershaw WI were transported back to the 18th Century to learn about 'The Language of the Fan'.

Our Speaker - Kerry Wolf came dressed in the fashion of the 1700's to teach us the art of communicating your feelings to a prospective beau when ladies were not allowed out on their own and were always escorted by a chaperone.

Did you know that if you were desirous of one's acquaintance all you needed to do was cover the lower part of the face with an open fan and flutter you eyelashes (batting an eyelid). Then to go a step further and indicate that you wished to speak to the gentleman you would need to touch the tip of the closed fan with you finger.Then if that goes well you could fan very quickly to indicate that you were available.

However, things could go wrong, wigs of the day could get very hot and itchy and if you accidentally scratched your head with the closed fan in mid-conversation you would accidentally be saying I do not like you! spoiling everything.

It was a fascinating afternoon, Kerry made us laugh with her tales of how ladies had to be sewn into their gowns and how they had pockets built in under the hoops inside their dresses, and we learned if the bodice was laced straight across the lady was married and unavailable (straight laced) but if the bodice was laced crossed you were available.

The fashions then were certainly feminine and beautiful for both men and women but not without problems concerning hygiene and practicality.


In February we were joined by the Author Adrienne Dines who has written books such as "Toppling Miss April" and the "Jigsaw Maker". 

 Born in Ireland, and with a sharp intellect and acute sense of humour, Adrienne now lives in Weybridge.

The role of women in WW1 took a refreshingly different approach as we considered how the views and opinions of the day were so much at odds with the demands that war on the home front would put upon women.

The importance of written communications even in the simplest form was very moving Peter described how government propaganda used images of women on recruitment posters, how Vesta Tilley's rendition of 'Keep the Home Fires Burning' boosted recruitment and the activities by many well-known individuals (including Lady Denman) who gave considerable support to soldiers, civilians and refuges. 

The torpedo attack on the 'Lusitania'  as she  headed for Liverpool shocked the nation.  The ship sank in just 18 minutes taking 1,198 people with her but a lady who was sucked into one of the funnels was subsequently blown into the air when the ship's boilers exploded and then rescued from the sea. An amazing tale but we were then informed by one of our new members that her great uncle was the the ship's captain and had stayed on board expecting to go down with the ship. He too was ejected in the explosion and he landed in the water next to that very same lady! What a small world we have. Peter suggested that he should asking for our members autograph because that story made her famous.

The W. I. Moodle

One of the many benefits of WI membership is access to the WI Moodle, an exciting online training environment offering support to WI members. It's a place where you view information,download documents and share forums with other members as well as learn new skills. You will need to register for a user name and password, and details on how to do to do this are included on the home page of the Moodle - just go to www.witraining.org.uk for details.

Denman College

Denman College is the WI's centre for learning - imparting knowledge and practical experience in the fields of cookery, art, craft, well-being and lifestyle.  The college, founded by the National Federation of Women's Institutes (NFWI) in 1948 offers a wealth of opportunities to learn new skills on day schools and short courses.  Everyone is welcome - men and women, members and non-members - we can even cater for groups of friends or hen parties who are looking for something a bit different. 

Just go to -   www.denmancollege.org.uk  for more information.

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