Rita Williams tells us how she was welcomed by Littleport WI

I moved to Littleport 4 years ago to be nearer my son, but I knew not a soul.

I had been a WI member many years ago. I rang the then President Mrs June Bird and asked when they met, thinking it would give me some time to steel myself to walk into a room full of ladies I did not know. Her reply was: “We meet tonight my dear, see you about 7”.

She spotted me as I walked in “How nice to see you, come and sit next to Maggie”.

I can’t remember who the speaker was but as I was leaving Marion said: “We have a social afternoon next Tuesday, bring your knitting or sewing or just come for a chat”.

Since then I have made the nicest, kindest friends you could wish for.

I have been to Cromer and the end of pier show, and many other venues, met ladies from other WIs at their birthday parties and Harvest Festivals. Listened to the likes of Michael Portillo, Eric Knowles, and Pru Leith to mention just a few speakers at our Federation Meetings, and having been to Jigsaw Mornings and Quizzes the list goes on.

So! What have we been up to this year.

January, Heather Gee told us she had held a long time wish to work in an orphanage in one of the poorer countries, a chance came for her to spend some time in one, so she told us about her time there. She made us laugh recalling how they had to feed so many babies all at one time, with one bowl and one spoon going up and down the line of high chairs. The heartbreak hearing of so many abandoned babies because their parents could not afford to feed them.

Our annual quiz was in February, a very light hearted affair.

March, Siobhan Carew told us how she became a writer, the ideas, research etc, and the struggle to get work accepted by publishers.

April, due to a sudden illness, our Speaker couldn’t come, so at the last minute, the Committee arranged a social evening reminiscing about school days.

In May, we had a visit from Soham Heritage and Tourism. We learnt about the Civil War. What clothes were worn at the time; their beliefs; and some very odd medical practices. And that Oliver Cromwell’s real name was Oliver Williams.

June, a fascinating talk from Karen Goodman (Top Spin Tennis) on how top rank players have their rackets restrung after every game and practice. Each player has his or her preference as to how they want their rackets strung. At every top tournament throughout the world a team of stringers spend their whole time restringing rackets as most players have 8 to 9 rackets which keeps them very busy.

July, John Bedford spoke about his many years of farming in the Fens and how ‘Mechanisation’ has changed the ways of farming. What crops suit the Fenland soil, and showed us some of the objects dug up on the farm; bones, coins and pottery etc.

August, we celebrated 100 years of ‘Women Getting the Vote’ and Sue Slack told us of the struggles women went through, imprisonment, force-feeding etc, to enable us to have the right to vote. We also had a display to celebrate this centenary in Adams Heritage Centre window. This was in partnership with the Field Theatre Group. We also had a visit to the Houses of Parliament which was very interesting.

September was our Birthday Party, where we were joined by members from neighbouring WI’s Naomi Porter entertained us with favourite songs from the musicals. Brilliant! Of course we had nice food supplied by members.

Malcolm Busby joined us in October with folk tales from Cambridgeshire and explained how each county has its own version of some of the tales.

So ladies, if you are new to Littleport and wondering whether to give the WI a go, it’s a wonderful way to make friends. You will find us a very friendly group and you will not regret it.

Anyone interested in coming along, please contact: President: Pat Ollive – 01353 864830. Secretary: Linda Whytock – 01353 863761.

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