September’s centenary has spurred me to learn more about the Women’s Institute, which has been an unexpected joy. All of the members I’ve spoken to, or met on my travels, have spoken so warmly about the confidence, friendship and fun they’ve gained from this organisation.
For the last 100 years, women all over the country have been serving their communities, and not just tea and cake, either, no. The more I learn about the WI, which is today the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the UK, the more I admire it. Giving women a voice, its members continue to campaign for the biggest issues affecting our lives. I might even join their ranks soon (if they’ll allow a bolshy single mum who doesn’t bake into their number, which, I’m told, they might!) So possibly see you there if you, too, are inspired by their story.
Now, as our children and grandchildren return to start a fresh year at school (see our Education supplement for more on this theme), thoughts turn to keeping them safe. So, I was very pleased to hear the good work done by local mum of two Rachel Moffat and want to share it with you. Rachel has recently set up Ladybird First Aid, a new business specialising in training parents, grandparents and carers in first aid for children and babies. On offer are a range of courses including a two-hour introductory baby and child first aid course. The two-hour course, run by Rachel, covers baby and child first aid from birth to puberty and will include Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), choking, recovery position, burns and scalds, meningitis, raised temperatures, febrile convulsions, bleeding and bumps & head injuries. Held at various venues in the Henley area including Henley Meeting House as well as Sonning Common, Goring and Woodcote, each course will have a maximum number of 12 attendees so people feel relaxed and able to ask questions. There is also the opportunity to host a course at your own home with a minimum number of four.
Aren’t you a creative lot, all you Henley people?! I was pleased to hear from Sally-Anne Fison Lenton, who is holding an art exhibition in The Old Fire Station Gallery in Market Place, Henley (RG9 2AQ), from Wednesday 17th September to the 22nd, 10am to 4pm. This will be Sally-Anne’s first solo exhibition of art and photography and some sculptures. The title is Juicy Lime Art and there will be free drinks on Friday 18th from 6pm to 8pm.
Are you interested in collecting stamps, postcards, postal history or old letters? Join Henley Philatelic Society this autumn to get more enjoyment and fun by sharing your hobby with like-minded people. This pastime covers many subjects, including nature, art and famous people to name but a few. Anne Stammers of the society says: “We are always delighted to see newcomers, and if wanted, advice is willingly given. There is always time for a coffee and a chat during the evening” The new season starts on Wednesday 9th when members will show their ‘Latest Acquisitions’ – up to nine pages or five minutes. This is a good introductory evening if you are wondering what Philately is about. After that the next meeting is on 23rd (speaker to be confirmed). Meetings are usually held on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at Bix Village Hall at 7.45pm from September to June inclusive. Visitors and new members are welcome. For details, call 01491 681739 or visit www.henleyphilatelic.co.uk
Back to the fuchsia! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one!) Yes, the Reading and District Fuchsia Society resume their Monday meetings again on Monday, September 28th, with a guest fuchsia speaker and, on Monday October 12th, the society offers an instructional given by a fuchsia expert. Guests are very welcome for just £1 at Maiden Place Community Centre in Lower Early (RG6 3HE) starting at 7.30pm until 9.30pm.
Just to prove my earlier point, more local creativity in full flow! You are warmly invited to attend the annual Watlington Art Exhibition on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th of September at Watlington Primary School in Love Lane (OX49 5RB). This event will showcase a unique collection of local art, offering a variety of genres. There will be about 400 stunning pieces of work on view, from professional and amateur artists. They will include limited editions, sculpture and ceramics, each depicting that artist’s individual style and diversity. Take this rare opportunity to see an impressive collection of colour and vibrancy from artists such as Diana Seidl, Stewart Clough, Martin Haywood Harris, Sue Cox and Ken Messer. A display of pupils’ art will also be on show and children can enjoy art-based activities and refreshments. Sheena Lowey said: ‘’It’s a truly wonderful opportunity to buy an affordable piece for your home or to merely browse and enjoy a coffee and cake, in a family-friendly atmosphere. In addition, all proceeds from the event go to Watlington Primary School to promote the artistic development of the children’’. Head there with your wallet from 10am to 5pm on the Saturday and/or 11am-3pm on the Sunday. Entrance is £1 per adult and children are admitted free.
We love to hear from competition winners who have enjoyed their prizes! After all, spreading a little sprinkle of joy among our readers is what makes it all worthwhile. Harriet Huband, winner of our Henley festival tickets wrote: “Just to let you know, we had a great evening at The Gypsy Kings – dancing in a lovely setting with a glass of champagne in hand. This was followed off by a fireworks display alongside human waterfalls – a lovely way to spend our anniversary.” Right back at you, Harriet – congratulations to you and hubby Mark on your sixth anniversary!
We’re quite used to this beautiful part of the world being used on the big and small screen, and now here’s another locally filmed highlight. Captain Webb, a film about the first man to swim the English Channel and featuring local people as ‘extras’, will have a special screening at Wallingford Corn Exchange on Sunday 6th at 7.30pm. Scenes shot in Goring Village Hall and Englefield, near Pangbourne, included supporting artists from Wallingford’s Sinodun Players, Goring Gap Players, Henley, Didcot and surrounding areas. The film depicts how in 1875 retired merchant seaman Captain Matthew Webb (aka The Greatest Living Englishman), braved treacherous currents and strong winds to swim from Dover to France. It is directed by Justin Hardy (son of actor Robert Hardy) and you can buy tickets by visiting www.cornexchange.org.uk or call 01491 825000.
Right, now, to clothes and dressing up! And this story has a fairytale ending. Have you heard of the Oxfordshire Drama Wardrobe Collection? This is a registered charity which had a bit of a ‘Cinderella’ patch – many months of difficulty meant the charity was close to closure. Now Lynda Hart has been in touch to say: “I am pleased to report ODWC has turned itself around and is now thriving in a new (smaller and cheaper) home. “There are more volunteers and we are able to increase opening times. We’re trying to provide an improved service to drama groups, schools, colleges and individuals, indeed anyone who needs a costume for whatever reason by offering an more open-door policy.” To the, ODWC holds an open day on Saturday, 26th, when you can browse the huge selection of costumes from Romans to 1950s, plus panto and show costumes and accessories, totalling 5,000 items available for hire. There will be two or three sale rails, refreshments and a good atmosphere, so pop by to Unit 25, Hanney Road, Steventon (OX13 6AP), 10am-4pm. Visit www.oxondramawardrobe.co.uk
What better way to end the summer holidays than with a celebration of the extensive culinary canvas that we are so lucky to have in Goring, Streatley and our surrounding areas. The inaugural Goring & Streatley Food & Drink Festival will take place on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th this year. It promises to be a fun (for all the family), interactive and indulgent weekend that will take you all over the villages to eat, drink and be merry! There will be competitions, demonstrations, bake-offs, an array of local producers to meet, music and maybe even pony rides! Fifty per cent of demonstration contributions will be going to charity.
Goring Gap Photo Club will be starting their new programme on Tuesday the 8th with Ruari Cumming ARPS presenting Another World, Another View, showing the visually stunning, amusing and absurd. On the 22nd, with tips, tricks and ideas, a tutorial will be given by Berni Raffe on Improving Your Family Photography, this will be aimed at complete beginners to the more advanced, concentrating on technique rather than camera settings. The meetings will be held at Goring Free Church Hall at 8pm. For the full programme of talks, tuition and competitions contact www.goringgapphoto.co.uk
Purley Players’ next production is On Her Way Out, a play by Fiona Roberton – a Murder Mystery Evening that will include a three-course meal. The performance will be at the Barn in Purley on Thames, on Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd October. If you don’t know the plot, and why would you, it focuses on Tim Seymour, facilities manager of Frimleys Potato Factory. He takes his five female staff for a weekend in Dedleigh Woods Outward Bound Centre. But secrets abound; there is a reformed criminal, an estranged husband owing hundreds in back maintenance, one of the ladies took a holiday with the boss, a victim of school bullying meets his antagonist, a cheque forger, a former arsonist and many other secrets all of which have been overheard by one or more of the others. So who can’t keep their mouth shut? Who deserves to die? Go along at 7pm for 7.30pm to find out. Tickets are £15 from 0118 954 8052. See the website www.purleyplayers.org.uk
Finally, and another mention for fantastic charity Style Acre which is hosting a fundraising event well worth booking this month. The inspirational Dame Stephanie Shirley and John Craven OBE will be the stars of a Getting to Know You event at Harris Manchester College on September 7th. Visit www.styleacre.org.uk
Windrush Innovation Centre, Howbery Park, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BA